Winter blues got ya down? My cure…fresh air and pets!

Dec. 6 is a snowy day.  The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

Dec. 6 is a snowy day. The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

December.  Bah-humbug. Okay, not really, but it could have been if I had allowed my attitude to venture that way.  I am not a lover of winter.  I am a sun worshiper.  When the days get shorter and the skies are more gray than blue and they have a tendency to leak tears over the lands, I get a bit of the blahs.

I decided in the early part of the month that I needed to let things that were bothering me slide off my back.  What was bothering me you ask?  Well, lots of things actually.  The biggest was not being able to spend time with my grandson for his birthday or any time over the holidays.  I also have a few issues with this house we live in.  It’s not easy living in a house of disrepair, and the thought of trying to bake and cook and decorate and bring it to holiday life was a bit daunting.  And of course, as always, there is the issue of living with chronic pain and the limitations that places on me and the various ways low energy and high pain levels have impacted my life.  No job, no money, no freedom to do all that I would want to do.   That’s just a few of the things…get the drift?

It started snowing here around the 5th of the month.  And it got cold.  Frigid cold for this part of the country.  We were in the teens and even some single digits for the first half of December.  Guess what???  My body had not felt so good since early June!  The dry cold air made my hot tight joints and tissues feel so much better.  So I started my baking.   We were nearly snowed in for a couple of days, because the combination of 6 inches of snow and then the freezing temps made the streets impassable.  There just weren’t enough plows and other equipment for the city to keep things clear.

Anyhow, we got a tree, and the decorations came out, and the baking continued and before I knew it Christmas had arrived.  My guys two youngest were with us and we had a nice, yet quiet and low-key holiday.  I let the messes roll off my back.  I didn’t look at the parts of the house that are still broken.  I ignored the untended leaves all over outdoors.  I just enjoyed my pain levels being down, being able to bake and cook and interact with friends.

And then it was the day after Christmas.  My boyfriend wanted me to travel with him to take his daughter to the airport.  It was a 10 hour round trip drive.  I don’t do riding in the car well.  I typically break up any trips I take into 2-3 hour driving segments each day!  I warned him that I could well end up in bed for a couple of days.  The weather also had taken a turn.  It was foggy and the humidity was up.

I got home and went to bed and stayed there for a little over 2 days.  And guess what?  The blues came over me with a vengeance.  Each time I would hobble out of the bedroom to get a glass of water or use the bathroom or just say hi to everyone, I noticed everything that is still needing fixing in the house.  And of course the post holiday messes, with all the extra food and new appliances taking up space and the decorations looking not quite as festive but instead a little more cluttering.  It just would hit me in waves.  Then the limitations of energy and the pain being bad really knocked those negative thoughts into full speed.   I was not liking where my thoughts were going.  Not at all.

Yesterday I got out of bed and went to my regular support group meeting.  I shared how I was concerned about my thinking and how I needed to probably get a little help with it.  I promised to make an appointment with my doctor and to talk to her about maybe doing a little counseling.  I realized, I’ve had quite a bit on my plate in the last 3 years and having a professional to talk to and give some perspective might help.  I told my group of friends to hold me accountable, because I have been here before, in a dark depression and I know how to put my smiley face on for everyone else to see, and that will get me no where in a hurry.

When I got home from my meeting, I was tending to the chickens when my little feral kitty, Muffin, came around the corner.  I decided to go grab my new camera that I had got for Christmas and do a little photo session.  The cool air felt good on my face.  It was a fairly decent day out.  I looked around at the leaves and the remnants of things that had once had life, but were now just brown decaying bits of debris in my flower boxes and decided to do a little work.  I grabbed my gloves and away I went.  I pulled up all the dead and decaying matter and threw it into the corner of the yard.  I raked up all the leaves under the apple tree and hauled them over and dumped them into the chicken run.  I figured that might help keep the mud down for a little while.  I got the shovel and tended to the doggie droppings.  When my guy came out to see what was going on, I got him to clean off the lawn chairs and put them away for the season.  I cleaned up the area where we had spent a few summer evenings having BBQ’s.  Then more photos of the animals that were out enjoying the weather with me.   I love my animals.  They always can bring a smile to my face.  And the fresh air and being outdoors…..that helps too.  Gets me connected to God.  I beat the blues for another winter day.

When I started writing this it was going to be more about just sharing photos of the animals…but then I got carried away.  I started sharing my thoughts and feelings.  I guess that helps with the blues too.  If you are having some wintertime blahs and blues, I encourage you to get outdoors and get some fresh air, pet a dog or cat, and talk to someone about it.  Sharing really is a great way to lessen the burden of blues.   I hope you enjoy the photos!  They are a variety that was taken over the course of the last month!

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The year of the chickens.

A year of learning.  About chickens and eggs and what goes with them.

What came first?  For me it was chickens..but for some it's the egg!

What came first? For me it was chickens..but for some it’s the egg!

What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, at my house that is an easy question to answer.  The chickens came first. It was a year ago to be exact!  One year ago this week  I went and brought my first flock to live with me on the farm I lived on out in Applegate.

I caught the chicken bug the first month or so of 2012.  I had been told where I had been living that I was going to have to wait at least until spring of 2013 before my desire would come to fruition. Then, the end of the summer of 2012, I moved.  I no longer had any constraints to keep me from getting the object(S) that my heart desired.  My landlord gave me the thumbs up and I went to work cleaning out and renovating an old coop that was next to my barn apartment.

It was my first time doing any construction of any kind.  Fortunately I had a friend who came to help.  He brought his tools and his strength and his knowledge, but the ideas were all mine and I did my fair share of measuring and cutting and hammering and setting screws. Of course I had cleaned the coop out before we started renovations.  There was old straw and chicken poop all over that needed to be shucked out and scrubbed down and disinfected.  That’s right.  I learned you need to disinfect the coop when you are going to be bringing in a new flock.  So…it was sprayed down with Basic G from Shaklee and I let that dry for a couple of days before adding bedding.  I decided to do the deep litter method using straw on the bottom and pine shavings in their nesting boxes.  Every so often I would add more straw and also some shavings to the floor.  I had no smell and didn’t have to clean the coop from October to May.

I had never even held a chicken before the day I went to pick them up.  The gal I bought them from was going through some really rough times and needed to move her kids to California and couldn’t take the girls.  She was so sad about it and I did the best I could to reassure her that they were going to be loved and loved and loved.  And they were.

So, things I had learned before I even retrieved my girls was that they needed to have a place where they were safe from predators, especially at night.  They needed their coop to be dry and not have chilling drafts.  They needed food specific to their age and calling in life (mine were on Layer Pellets) and fresh drinking water.  I had read they needed to have roosts and laying boxes and ladders to get up in the boxes and special treats and lots of other things.  I quickly found out they don’t.  The will find anywhere to roost or sleep if they feel safe and the same can be said with laying eggs.  But I made sure my coop had plenty of laying baskets and they had plenty of roosting space and a locked coop for night-time.

I had decided I wanted my Layers to be free ranged.  That means that they were free to roam as far as they chose to.  Since we lived on a 13 acre piece of property they had quite a wide expanse of territory.  They mostly stayed in the 3 acres close to my barn apartment and the main house.  While letting them free range during the day does increase their risk of being struck by a predator, I felt it was a more natural and kinder life for them.  I did loose one of my hens to a hawk about three months after getting them.  RIP Grace.  I realized that was part of the deal.  Life and death.

So, the chicken came before the egg, but once the eggs started….woah Nellie did I have eggs!  It only took a few days from their relocation before I think each Layer had laid at least one egg.  They do not lay an egg EVERY day.  Each breed has an approximate number of eggs they will lay in a lifetime.  Most of them lay an egg about every 24-30 hours during their peak laying years.  So with a Bakers Dozen girls I would get about 5 dozen eggs a week when they were all in prime laying.  I have learned that their laying habits can vary based on many things.  When they molt (lose their old feathers and grow new ones which occurs once a year) they generally don’t lay.  Some chickens have a hard molt and they look pretty rough.  Miss Donna, my Golden Laced Polish hen, hardly looks any different during her molt, but she hasn’t given me any eggs during her molt.  I’ve also learned that stress will decrease egg production. Decreased light will also cause low productions.  Over the hardest part of the winter I was only getting one egg every other day per hen.  Also, this summer when we were having so much smoke from our fire season and the temperatures were soaring above 90 degrees and into the low 100’s for weeks on end, I did not have good production.  Moving them stresses them.  Adding new chickens to the flock is stressful.  Essentially I have learned that hens like things to be constant and the same and not to be upset if you want to have good output.

My girls and their eggs have brought so many new and wonderful things to my life.  I started my community Facebook page and have met so many interesting and knowledgeable people who enjoy chickens and sustainable living and healthy eating and many things I enjoy also.  I started doing this blog and the Layers and Littles, or their eggs, had a star role often.  I sold some of my eggs, which led me to meet others who sold eggs and had chickens.  And of course…with all those eggs…I did a LOT of egg cooking.  I made stuff for myself and for others.  The eggs became the basis for my Barter Basket that was my payment for my physical therapy once a week.

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About 4 months after becoming known as “that crazy chicken lady” by my friends, I bought some day old chicks.  I decided I wanted to start from scratch.  My first batch was 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes (SLW) and a Welsummer.  The following week in February I bought a pair of Speckled Sussex (SS).  My landlord bought 35 babies and let me tell you..that many babies makes a real racket and a stench if you don’t keep up on them. My five Little’s were kept up in my apartment with me until they were 5 weeks old.  I just used a clear plastic tub and had their food and water and a heat lamp hanging above it.  You have to help keep them warm, so a heat lamp is the easiest and least expensive way to do it.  From the first week of having the SS chicks I knew they were different.   From each other that is.  There was just something about them.  Low and behold, about June, the one that had a bit larger comb began to crow!  I had a pair that I could breed and I was excited to think about hatching eggs.  I had a rooster!  And what a handsome cocky boy he was.

I started introducing the Littles to my Layers when they were about 6 weeks old.  I would take them outdoors and have them in a pen where the big girls could get a look, but not get at them.  Then when they were about 12 weeks old I moved them to the coop, but kept them sequestered in an area of the coop to themselves and only let them out when I was in attendance.  I did this for about a week and then one evening after they had all been outdoors for the late afternoon, I let them all go in to find their spots at bedtime and they all just were together after that.

Then life changed and I needed to move.  To town.  I knew I couldn’t bring a rooster to town and so I relocated Pumpkin and 5 of my older Layers with someone out in the country.  I  packed up the 4 Littles and Miss Donna and Sweetie (she’s an Austrolop) and brought them to town and they joined my boyfriends motley crew of 14 hens.  We ended up rehoming 8 of his and were back down to just a dozen.  They haven’t been as happy here and our production as been down.  They have to be in an enclosed chicken yard and I don’t think they like that as much as running free.

I have learned that chickens LOVE treats.  In the winter I would give them warm oats with apples or raisins in them.  Sometimes I would add some scrambled eggs for extra protein.  Some people think you shouldn’t give chickens eggs or chicken meat.  My girls love both!  They have yet to show any signs of cannibalism, but they love having some warm scrambled eggs on a cold morning.  I also started growing and giving them sprouts when they weren’t getting out to free range.  They also like scratch, sunflower seeds and fruit and veggie scraps.  My girls get a wide variety of diet with their base being Organic Layer Pellets from the Grange.  I love using the bags to decorate their coop as well as I used them to line planter boxes this summer!

A few other things I’ve learned this year about raising chickens.  Sometimes you forget that you’ve put an egg in your pocket and it gets squashed.  Sometimes they don’t have “fluffy butts” but rather have nasty butts and need to get a good washing!  I wasn’t sure, but I found out that they will go out in the snow.  And they LOVE to take dust baths.  Those are just a few things I learned just by watching and enjoying my girls.

We inherited two new pullets a month ago.  My boyfriend’s cousin raises Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes and we are hoping when we are able to move back out to the country that we can start breeding them.  They are a beautifully marked bird and I have read about many  people who are trying to fine tune the breed so it can be added to the American Breed Standard.

Our Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes...all the way from Utah!

Our Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes…all the way from Utah!

So, while the chicken did come first for me, the eggs will be coming for quite some time.  And what does that do for me the most???  It makes me smile.  I love my chickens.  They fill so many areas of my life.  They give me food.  They are one of the things I do in my life towards being self-sufficient.  They are a wonderful conversation topic.  They have brought me new friends which has opened doors for many other new things.

My next post will explain why I need them.  You see…production is at an all time low for me.  And I’m not talking about eggs.  Check back soon and see what I mean about low production!  Thanks for reading friends.  Now go pet a chicken or eat an egg!  It will improve your day…trust me…I know it for a fact!

Capturing wild yeast and making sourdough bread!

This starter was created the beginning of the second week in May.

My list of new things to learn to do is always growing. When spring approached my research said it was a good time to capture some yeast and start my own science experiment on my counter. I read many different articles on how to make a good sourdough starter. The one I decided to follow was this one Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Collecting Wild Yeast.   My first capturing yeast was done in early April and it was growing well and I had been feeding it for a few weeks. I had put it in the refrigerator while I was gone from home traveling and when I tried to “fire it up” and reactivate it after a few days it developed some pinkish yuck so I threw it out. I started a new batch around May 10th and have kept it going on the counter ever since. I have tried four different Artisan sourdough bread recipes over the last few weeks and this weeks batch turned out the best in my humble opinion. My starter lives on the counter and I feed it daily with 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup WW flour. I toss 1/2 the starter about every 3 days. I feed it with AP flour the day before I intend to use it as that seems to create more yeast. The rest of the time the feeding is done with WW flour.

I have a little experience in bread baking over the years and anyone who knows how I am about recipes knows I have to go with my own flow and typically just use a recipe for some inspiration. That is what I did this time. I found yet another slightly different recipe and tweaked it to suit me using traditional American measurements since I have not acquired a scale yet. I found my inspiration with this recipe at Them Apples and I hope you take the time to check out this writer’s blog. He and I share a similar taste for foods! Lots of yummy stuff to be found and I love his layout!

I made my sponge using 1 heavy cup of my starter, 1 cup WW flour and 1 cup AP flour and 2 1/3 cups water. I mixed it with a fork and covered it with a cloth and it set on the counter from noon until 8pm. I wanted to have my bread ready to give a loaf to my physical therapist and my appointment was scheduled for noon the next day! I have learned over the last few weeks that baking good sourdough bread really is about taking your time and allowing the fermentation of the yeasts to develop. I love my set of Vintage Pyrex bowls and the large one was just perfect for this process!

While the sponge was doing it’s thing on the counter I tidied up my kitchen and prepared for an interview I was schedule to do at 2pm one of the reporters from the local newspaper. They are doing a full spread article on compulsive and problem gambling. I have been interviewed about problem gambling a few other times in the past.  I am happy to say this is the first interview I have had where I have significant recovery under my belt. The two other times for newspapers occurred when my life was in a shambles or I was literally sitting on my hands white knuckling it so I wouldn’t go place a bet. There was also a time I was interviewed for a TV newscast, and that occurred when I had been at a treatment facility and was at about day 45  and still trying to figure out how I was going to manage life once treatment was done. This time I am doing well today and it felt good to know that.  I am sure the article will focus more on the devastation that occurred during my 16 year battle rather than all that is good, and that is ok if the story helps educate the general public on the devastation that gambling can bring on a life. One other thing that is significantly different about this interview is that I chose not to remain anonymous. I am allowing the paper to use my name as well as my picture. Not because I am anyone special. Quite the opposite. I am just another person, who lives in the country and raises chickens and likes to cook and bake and has life challenges and loves people and is emotionally and mentally sound and happy with life. In a nutshell that is. I have nothing to hide anymore and it felt very liberating to say yes when asked if my name and photo could be used.

After the interview I hoped on my motorcycle and ran to town to check the mail for my guy while he is out of town and then back out to Applegate Valley Lavender Farm. I had promised my new friend Deborah Thompson, the proprietor, that I would help her do some preparing for the upcoming Oregon Lavender Festival. Check out her webpage and learn more about the Lavender Festival. Aside from enjoying this sweet ladies company, who wouldn’t want to hang out at a lavender farm and enjoy the scenery and the scents and the animals? I love it there. We played with her farm animal friends and pulled some weeds and ate some watermelon. It was a great couple of hours.

At 8pm I was back home and done with phone calls and little things that occupied my time for a while. It was time to make some dough! I dumped the bubbly mass of sponge into the bowl that goes with my standing mixer. I added 1 cup of WW flour, one cup of AP flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal flour (that I grind myself with Organic Oats) and 1/2 cup of whole oats. I sprinkled in 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and started up the mixer. Nice and slow at first. I didn’t want flour all over the place! It is a very wet batter as you can see from the photos. I added maybe another 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour after about 3 minutes because it was still sticking too much on the sides of the bowl. Once it all started to come together I amped up the mixer and let it fly for about 5 more minutes. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It probably is the most used appliance I have ever owned. It is started to get a bit wobbly from so much use. When I use the dough hook to knead bread I have to hold the thing still because it bangs all over the place. I just use it as a resting place for the time it takes to knead it! After about 8-10 minutes with the mixer into an oiled bowl it goes!

Now to let it rise. I always pre-warm my oven to 350 degrees for just ONE minute and then turn it off and set my bowl inside with a tea towel or loose lid on it. I have a gas oven so it always stays a little warmer. It is a good thing I am a bit of a night owl because this dough still needs attention. As Rich at Them Apples states in his blog, this dough needs attention for about 4 hours or so. I would just stick my hands in the bowl and punch it down and turn it over and punch it down a few times each hour. At about 1:30 in the morning when I was just about ready for a good sleep I shaped the loaves into nice rounds and left them on a piece of parchment paper. I did the tea towel trick for holding their shape and it worked well. I covered them up and went to bed!

I awakened at 9 and padded out in my bare feet and turned the oven on to 450C degrees. I had a few things to do to put my “Barter Basket” so set to that while waiting for a good solid 30-45 minute pre-heat. I placed my rack in the middle of the oven and had a loaf pan full of water underneath that was heating with the oven. I also threw in some oiled new red potatoes to let them roast utilizing the pre-heat temps! I had my favorite Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone preheating in there too. For those who are curious my “Barter Basket” is a basket of home cooked and home canned food I put together each week for my physical therapist. She is treating me sans charge except for whatever I choose to bring as a barter gift. It is working out well for both of us. She and her betrothed are getting married in September and she has just asked me to provide some of the food for her dinner, which is a BBQ as well as highlight her bridal breakfast with some quiches and muffins and such! I have been so excited and honored about this. I have been enjoying cooking for most all of my adult life and to have someone ask me if I will cook for them for their most special occasion is just wonderful!

At 10 a.m.  I was ready to throw them in and have them bake. I had covered the bottoms of the loaves with a good layering of the oatmeal flour before letting them rise and so they moved about on the parchment paper I had set them on pretty well. I opened the oven and gently lifted each one with a nice long spatula and closed the door gently! Baked for 10 minutes at 450 and then turned the oven down to 200. The loaves were  just barely brown after 10 minutes. I checked on them after another 20 minutes and they didn’t sound quite hollow when tapped so I gave them an additional 5 minutes. On to the rack to cool while I got ready for my appointment with my PT.

My “Barter Basket” contained a jar of Marsala Chicken that I had cooked overnight in the crock pot, the roasted potatoes, a jar of canned peaches, a jar of Blackberry Plum jam, a plateful of Lemon Bars a loaf of this lovely Artisan Sourdough Oatmeal bread and a dozen of eggs from my Layers! My wild yeast starter is still growing on the counter and I believe I will make this same recipe again next week. I had a slice of this bread and it is very good, but I will add a little more salt next time. I think with the WW and Oat flours salt requirements increase! I hope you enjoy learning about Capturing Wild Yeast and making some good sourdough bread!

 

Luscious Lemon Curd

A beautiful jar of yellow sunshine...Luscious Lemon Curd

A beautiful jar of yellow sunshine…Luscious Lemon Curd

Buttery luscious lemony goodness…and it has a name!!!  Have you ever heard of Lemon Curd?  Have you ever tasted Lemon Curd?  If you love a tangy lemony flavored pudding you will love Lemon Curd.

The beginnings to something decadent!

The beginnings to something decadent!

I think I had seen a jar of it in my grandmother’s or someone’s kitchen along the way but I don’t recall ever having been served it.  When I saw the picture of this Tangerine Curd ( http://www.simplythesweetlife.com/2010/12/food-tangerine-curd-recipe.html) last year on Pinterest I thought it sounded pretty yummy.  I re-visited that picture this last week and decided to give curd making a try.  This is a good time of year to buy citrus and I wanted to do something a bit different.

I knew if I was going to do this I wanted to at least make a few jars.  There was my first issue.  I didn’t have any of the 1/2 pint jars but one.  Jars is something I am still collecting and will be for some time I’m sure.  Fortunately I have a close neighbor (thank goodness for M&E) that was hesitantly willing to do a trade.  Canners want their jars.  I traded her 2 of my pint jars for 3 or her 1/2 pint jars, and she gets one back filled with curd.  Sounds like a good trade to me!

I had done a little research on the origins of citrus based curds.  It seems that it is a British preserve or jam type spread.  Something to serve with bisquits or scones.  Or even slathered on a big thick slice of toasted sourdough bread!  Yummy…my tummy is excited for this lemon explosion of taste and color.  It is mentioned in cookbooks and writings from the mid 1800’s.  It has also been refered to as a cheese.  It really is hard to decide what to call it, because it has components of a pudding, a butter spread, a filling, or a jam type substance.

I read a number of different recipes and they all seemed to be describing the making  of a slow cook scratch pudding. So that is the way I decided I would put this concoction together.  Like a pudding…that I was going to can.  Yes, I intended to can a couple of the jars.

First, get your jars ready.  I had 4  1/2 pint jars, an old glass lidded 1/2 pint jar, and a regular pint jar.  I intended to can the conventional 1/2 pint jars, freeze the pint jar and will eat out of the other jar first.  This will allow me to see how the curd holds up with different preserving styles.   I sterilized the jars and had them kept hot in an oven.  I also had my rings and lids simmering on the stove.

To make the Curd you need:

6 lemons (Meyer’s are the best, but whatever is available will work if they are juicy)

6 eggs (I had a few of those around)

1 cup butter (I used regular sweet butter)

You also need:

A zester or small grater for the lemon rind.  A medium sized saucepan with water about 1″ deep  and a bowl (I read somewhere that metal is best)to sit inside the pot without touching the bottom.   Or…you can use a double boiler! Also collect a whisk, juicer, measuring cups, wooden spoons, a strainer or jelly bag or cheesecloth to strain the pulp and seeds out of the juice.

First I zested the lemons.  Zest doesn’t stay fresh and colorful very long so don’t do this step until you are ready to put this together from start to finish.  I got about 3 tablespoons of zest from my lemons.

Rolling the lemons gets more juice out!

Rolling the lemons gets more juice out!

I then rolled each lemon under the palm of my hand back and forth a few times to get the juices easy to express.  I cut the lemons in half and using my handy dandy hand juicer I squeezed and twisted and pressed and swirled those lemons extracting as much of the zingy juice as I could. As the reservoir filled I dumped the contents into my jelly bag that was sitting over a 2 cup measurer. The juice and rinds were set to the side.

Fresh zest and lemon juice being strained.

Fresh zest and lemon juice being strained.

I took the metal bowl and cracked 3 whole eggs into it.  I also seperated three eggs and poured the yolks into the bowl with the other eggs and set the whites aside for another use another time.  I whisked the eggs quite vigarously.  I then added the sugar and all the lemon juice (this was 1 1/3 cups for me).  I whisked it some more and then added the butter and zest.

My sugar was a little beat up.  I had hauled baking supplies with me on my travels the week before Christmas.  Evidently it got a little damp in the box in the back of the pickup.  Whoops!  I hope the chunks will cook out.  This is the last of a 10 lb. bag I bought in August!  Over 4 months for one bag, and that was with holiday cooking!  Not bad in my conversion to honey, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners.  But not today.  Today was the real deal day!

Chunky Sugar.  The last of a bag I bought in August.

Chunky Sugar. The last of a bag I bought in August.

The water in the pan is on med-low and is barely at a simmer.  Just a few little bubbles causing the water to move slightly were visible.  I had placed a canning ring in the  bottom of the pan to keep the bowl from touching the bottom and for stability of the bowl. I put the bowl inside the pan and the process had begun.

Metal ring in bottom of pan.

Metal ring in bottom of pan.

This requires gentle stirring and NO RUSHING.  If you rush, you will have flecks of cooked egg in your curd.  A visual distraction to the beautiful smoothness I was working towards.  I used the whisk and just kept stirring in a figure 8 fashion, being sure to swirl up against the edges of the pan frequently.  If you hear the water bubbling…it is too hot.  You should not hear bubbles. If you do, turn the heat down and keep stirring.  You will see the lovely color and smooth richness before your eyes as it cooks into a molten pudding.  I cooked mine for about 10 minutes.  I used the metal spoon test.  I dropped some hot pudding onto the back of a metal spoon and it clung nicely to it, with no runniness and lumps.

A nice coating on the back of the metal spoon..it is done!

A nice coating on the back of the metal spoon..it is done!

I poured the curd into the prepared jars and placed the lids on them.  I put the 4 1/2 pint jars into the water canner.  They require a 20 minute processing time.

Canned lemon curd

Canned lemon curd

Now it was time for the taste test.  I made a piece of toast and slathered some of the sunshine yellowy goodness across it and had a bite.  Amazing.  A bright happy taste happening in my mouth.  Zingy but not too puckery. I see a cake in the future, with this as a filling.  But for now, I will just lick my lips after each bite of my elegant toast.

I need to find a few more jars.  I also have Tangelo’s and Grapefruit I wanted to try next!  I intend to just substitute the juice and zest from these other fruits and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

This recipe left me with lemon rinds, egg shells and egg whites that needed using.

All but 2 tbspns. of the lemon rinds were sliced and put in a crock and covered with vinegar.  They will become a lemon cleaner after sitting in the crock with a bag tied over the top for a few weeks.

The remaining lemon was chopped up very very fine and put in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tbspns of grapeseed oil.  I mixed all of this up and used it as an exfoliating scrub in my bath.  Made my skin feel so clean and smooth.

The egg shells will either be used in one of the chickens treats, or I may use them to start some of my herbs in.  The egg whites will be used in a chicken snack or in something I cook the next day or so.  Nothing got thrown away.  🙂

Off to finish up the Pork and Lentil soup that is in the crock pot.  Maybe that recipe will show up later.  Hope you all have a lovely day.