Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tomatoes, Lemons and Limes

One store had packages and packages of tomatoes marked down today. I ended up with several packages so I am canning tomatoes today. I am also dehydrating lemons and limes which were also marked down. I had seen a post on another blog about making lemonade with dehydrated lemons so when I saw the lemon and lime packages marked down I got one of each.

In other news: On an egg swap on a forum, I have been a member of for some time now, I received some lovely Muscovy and Welsh Harlequin duck eggs. I can't wait to see if they are fertile and hatch. Only 26 days to wait, sigh. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Canning Carrots

I like the bags of baby carrots and when they are on sale I get some to can. It is pretty easy. Wash them, put them in a pot of water and bring it to boil. Boil 5 minutes.
Fill your jars with carrots, then add boiling water leaving a half inch head space. Add a half teaspoon salt. 
Take out the air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids. Pressure can 25 minute at 10 lbs pressure. 

Let's Talk Quail and Pickled Quail Eggs

It occurred to me today that I have told you that I raise quail to eat but had not really told you about the quail themselves. Corturnix or Japanese Quail are a species of Old World Quail (a mid-sized bird in the pheasant family) from East Asia. They breed in Europe, Manchuria, Southeastern Siberia, the Korean Peninsula and northern Japan then migrate south to winter in southern Japan,southern China and even Africa. They are terrestrial and grasslands are their normal habitat.
The first record of domesticated are from 12th century Japan where an Emperor claimed to obtain relief from tuberculosis after eating quail. This caused quail to be bred more for meat and eggs. By 1910 eating quail and quail eggs was widely spread throughout Japan. 
Male and female quail can be told apart by the plumage on their breasts. Males will have much redder breast than females. Males also have an odd gravely crow which is rather startling when you first hear it. Males are usually mature by 10 weeks, females slightly sooner at 8 weeks. 
Corturnix quail eggs are cream color with brown blotches or speckles. Corturnix are extremely good layers and lay almost daily.

Cortunix will not hatch their own eggs in captivity so an incubator is needed if you are going to raise them from eggs. The eggs take 17 days to hatch and then the quail need to be brooded at slightly lower temperatures than chick though I have brooded quail and chicken chicks together successfully.  Quail are said to need game bird starter for the higher protein but I feed mine laying mash and have no problems.  I have my breeders in cages we made from hardware cloth and wood; one on top of the other; 4 ft x 18 inches. 
Quail can be butchered at any time after they are full grown. I cut the heads off mine, let them bleed out and then wait 5-10 minutes before dry plucking. If you pluck too quickly the skin tears but if you wait too long the feathers don't want to come out. If the skin tears wait a few more minutes. I don't like to skin my quail because they have very little fat on them and need the extra juice the skin provides. We have found we need three quail each to make a satisfying meal. I like to bake my quail with cream of mushroom soup poured over them and extra mushrooms in the pan. 

The eggs can be used any way you would use chicken eggs but, of course, you have to use more of them. When I have a lot of them I like to make pickled quail eggs. Today was a day that I had a lot of them. I had a hatch today of 10 more quail and by the time the hatch gets finished and  I get the incubator cleaned and ready for more those that had been sitting here would have been bad so I pickled them. 
I boiled them just like I would regular eggs and peeled (and peeled, and peeled) them. 
Then I used just your standard pickled egg recipe:
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp pickling spice
2 cups white vinegar
2/3 cups water

I also added some chili powder on that never ending quest for a hot pickled egg. 

Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a native of South America, most likely the highlands of Peru. The perennial green plant produced small green fruits. One species of these was taken to Mexico where it was grown by Mesoamerican civilizations. It is not know when they were domesticated but the first domesticated tomatoes may have been a small yellow fruit the size of a cherry tomato, grown by the Aztecs. Tomatoes were later transported to Europe possibly by the Spanish explorer Cortez after he conquered the Aztecs in 1521. The word "tomato" comes from the Nahuatl (a group of languages spoken by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples) and means "the swelling fruit". The Spanish brought the tomato to their colonies in the Caribbean and also the Philippines but the tomato was not grown in England until the 1590's. John Gerard cultivated it though he believed it to be poisonous. Because of his influence the tomato was considered unfit for eating in Europe and the American colonies for many years. Today, of course, we know this is not the case and all sorts of varieties of tomatoes are grown in almost every backyard vegetable garden.
Mine, however, did not produce many tomatoes for me. I got lots of grape tomatoes and a few yellow tomatoes so when I saw some on sale today I got some for canning. Canning tomatoes is fairly simple if a bit messy. First you have to get the peels off. To do this you put the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes.
Then you are supposed to put them in ice water but I never seem to have any ice so I just put mine in a colander and run cold water over them. If the tomatoes skins haven't split, you can slice through the skin with a knife and then the skin just slides off. As I said, it is a bit messy.  I then cut them in half and cut out the core but making a V cut around the core.
Larger tomatoes I may cut in quarters and those the size of Roma tomatoes just in half. Then put them in another pot.
Add just enough water to cover them and bring it to a boil. Boil approximately 5 minutes.

I was canning these in pints and each pint needs about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Heirloom varieties may be acidic enough not to need any lemon juice but since I bought these, I added the lemon juice.

Put your tomatoes in your sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a plastic spatula or something similiar to remove the air bubbles from the jars and clean your rims like always. Water bath can pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Dozen Baby Quail

Yesterday's hatch resulted in a dozen baby quail. I could not get them all in one picture. Also in this picture is the one pheasant that I hatched plus one half grown quail that is the only one left from the 5 that I hatched not too long ago. I had those 5 in an outside brooder and something killed 4 of them. I found this one left in the brooder and brought it in. He/she (can't tell yet) could walk when I brought him/her in but can't seem to anymore. Its legs move fine so we'll just wait and see. It does seem to like the baby quail just fine and, of course, they think that one is "mama". The pheasant chick totally ignores all of them and just constantly jumps at the side of the brooder. The baby quail all seem to be doing fine although some are quite small and normally I wouldn't expect the little ones to make it but so far so good. They are all active and seem to be eating and drinking just fine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Raspberry Almond Bread

Raspberries were on sale this week. They don't taste nearly as good as the few that I got from my berry garden this year but they are still raspberries.

3/4 C. chopped almonds (I was all out so mine didn't get any)
1 pt. raspberries (about 2 cups is good)
1/4 lb butter, softened
2 eggs (I had to run out to the duck pen)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 3/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. sour cream (I did not have any and used homemade yogurt instead)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugar together, add eggs and almond extract. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, milk and sour cream(yogurt). Mix well. Add almonds (or not) and raspberries, gently mix in raspberries. Spread batter into a buttered 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour--until knife comes out clean. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quail Feeder

I was shown how to do this on a forum called DIYSeattle . This is a quail feeder made out of one 2 liter soda bottle. Just cut the bottle in half, cut the half moons (one on each side) out of the sides of the bottom of the bottle and turn the top upside down into the bottom of the bottle.
I really like it and plan to make a few more for the other quail cage and maybe a few for the bantam cages. It is a bit light so the bantams may knock it over but I can always put a wire around it and wire it to the cages. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Pretty Sure....

this is gonna be real, REAL good!
Yes, this is one of those roasters I showed you after I butchered it. It is about done and smelling quite nice. I am sure it will be used for several meals, sandwiches, whatever.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pine Needle Basket Part 3

Yes, I have finally gotten back to this basket. So this morning I started from here:

I added several rows until the bottom was as large as I wanted it to be. Now my V-stitches had gotten quite far apart and since I was going to start up the sides it was a good time to add more stitches. To do that I put two stitches in between each V-stitch so they would be the base for more V-stitches in the next row and I started putting the pine needle rows on top of the bottom rows to form the sides. This picture may help explain it better:

Now you just keep going up the sides and you can angle it any way you want. My sides are going to go fairly straight up then veer inward slightly at the top but of course you can make a bowl shaped basket as well. . I had to go out in the yard and get more pine needles and soak them a few minutes. Then I got several rows up the side. This was almost 2 hours worth of work. 

You have to be careful with the V's on the back of your work as well as the front so that they will all look right. 

Pheasant Chick

I finally have another pheasant. This chick hatched yesterday. He, of course, wouldn't hold still for the picture. I am truly hoping it is a "he" since my other one is a hen. I am also hoping that a couple of the chicken eggs that I have in the incubator hatch (two are pipped) so that he will have another chick in the brooder with him. He is lonely and peeps all the time.