Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sourdough Rugelach

Since I was travelling early in December and then got sick, I didn't get much Christmas baking done.  I decided to try my hand at Sourdough Rugelach after seeing them on December's Sourdough Surprises.  Rugelach are a filled, rolled cookie/pastry.

The original recipe was here and I took my filling ideas from here and here.

Ingredients for dough
1/2 c butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sourdough 
1 c flour (I used 1/2 c whole wheat and 1/2 c white)
fillings - I checked out the fillings above and adjusted them to go with the jams I wanted to use.  You can change them to suit your taste.

filling #1
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp chopped raisins

filling #2
blackberry jam
chopped chocolate chips
chopped walnuts

filling #3
chopped walnuts
chopped dried cranberries

filling #4
chopped raisins
chopped walnuts

filling #5
chopped raisins
chopped walnuts
chopped dried cranberries

Beat butter and cream cheese together.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat again.  Add sourdough and flour and mix on low speed until mixture becomes a sticky dough.
Knead gently a few times on a floured surface.  Form dough into flat ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Cut dough in half and place rest back in fridge.  Work quickly so dough doesn't get sticky.  Place dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 14" by 6".

Since I wanted to try several fillings, I cut the rectangle in half.  For the first half, I mixed together the jam and chopped raisins and walnuts.  I spread the mixture on the dough leaving space at the edge.  Having the raisins and nuts mixed in made the rugelach easier to roll.

Filling #2 called for mini chocolate chips.  I only had regular ones and tried to chop them in food processor - not too successfully as some of the chips turned to powder and others stayed whole.  Plus the food processor was sticky to clean.  Here I spread the jam and sprinkled on the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Roll the dough starting on the long side.  Cut slices about an inch wide and place on parchment paper.  In the original recipe you sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on the jam mixture which I thought was unnecessary.  In one of the recipes, they brushed the unbaked cookies with an egg wash and sprinkled on cinnamon sugar which I didn't do either. 

For the second half of the dough, I decided to try rolling them crescent-style.  Again roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface.  I used an 8" round cake pan to cut the circles.  Press scrap dough into a ball and refrigerate until ready to use it.

For the next filling I used jam, chopped cranberries and walnuts.  Spread almost to the edge.


Cut dough in half and then in half again.  Cut each quarter into thirds and you will have 12 cookies.  Start rolling each piece from the outer edge. 

I found these a little more finicky then the long roll.  Again place on parchment paper.

I then tried a cinnamon - sugar mixture with chopped raisins and nuts.  This was much harder to roll as the filling wasn't sticky so it fell out instead of sticking to the dough.

You can see the mess on the parchment paper.  It was much harder to keep these intact.

The last filling was jam and the leftover chopped raisins, cranberries and walnuts.  I just rolled the leftover dough into a rectangle and rolled and cut the rugelach as before.

Bake at 350°F for about 15 or so minutes until cookies are brown around the edges, turning pans after 10 minutes.  Some people sprinkle the cookies with icing sugar.  Cool rugelach and enjoy!

The rugelach were a big hit.  They tasted part pastry - part cookie.  I enjoyed the spice jam ones and also the ones with chocolate.  The filling variety is as broad as your imagination.  ;)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lulu and Wheatgrass

Last year I brought some sod indoors for Lulu to eat during the winter.  It worked alright at the start but as we got less sunlight, the grass began to go dormant.

Someone suggested I try wheatgrass for Lulu.  I grew several trays of it for her.

She loved her fresh greens.

By having two trays, I could alternate them so the grass could grow in between feedings.

She did a good job of keeping the grass down in height.

I keep the wheatgrass in a sunny window and bring it down to Lulu on her end table.

I do not leave the grass there all day.  She only gets it once a day for a treat.

Often she stops what she is doing when I am snapping pics but not when eating her wheatgrass.

Lulu is a very happy camper when she gets her feed of wheatgrass.

"Yum, yum, yum!"  mumbled Lulu with her mouth full, "I love this stuff!"

"It is so fresh and green." Lulu chortled.  "And I don't have to go out and get my feet cold!"

"I'm so happy, I could crow!"  chuckled Lulu.  "If I was a rooster that is!  Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Snowy Night

A couple of weeks ago when we got a heavy snowfall, I stood in the doorways and took pictures into the night.  I thought some of them turned out quite interesting so I hunted up a poem about nighttime in winter to share with you.  Enjoy!

The storm puts its mouth to the house
and blows to get a tone.

I toss and turn, my closed eyes
reading the storm's text.

The child's eyes grow wide in the dark
and the storm howls for him.

Both love the swinging lamps;
both are halfway towards speech.

The storm has the hands and wings of a child.
Far away, travellers run for cover.

The house feels its own constellation of nails
holding the walls together.

The night is calm in our rooms,
where the echoes of all footsteps rest

like sunken leaves in a pond,
but the night outside is wild.

A darker storm stands over the world.
It puts its mouth to our soul

and blows to get a tone. We are afraid
the storm will blow us empty.

by Tomas Tranströmer
translated from the Swedish by Robin Robertson

Monday, January 21, 2013

Garden Gossip with Lulu

Here are a couple of Lulu garden stories that I didn't post last year but thought were cute.

Lulu liked picking her own grapes.  Some of the newer grapevines grew grapes closer to the ground so they were within her reach.  Whenever she felt like eating grapes she would wander over to one of these low growing vines and help herself.  She was quite independent and preferred picking her own grapes rather then being fed grapes by me.  It was quite cute to see her tail sticking out from among the grape leaves and to hear her chattering to herself as she ate grapes.

Lulu also starting eating potatoes last year.  When I was digging potatoes, she would come and watch for worms and bugs.  Sometimes she would start pecking at a potato and eating chunks out of it.  I would try to give her smaller ones to peck at but she always headed for the biggest ones.  I stored the extra potatoes in the shed until I needed them.  One day I went out to get some potatoes and guess what I found.
Lulu had been snacking on the potatoes when I wasn't looking!  What a stinker.


Lulu sometimes got lonely out in the yard alone and would keep me company when I worked.  We have a triple sink outside to wash the produce.  Lulu would sometimes stand around the sink and I was afraid I might accidentally step on her.  I would get her a chair and she would sit and contentedly watch me work.  After she had enough company, she would jump down and carry on with her chickeny duties in the yard and garden. 
Lulu is very independent but likes to have company as well.  She has a mind of her own.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sourdough Sharing - Brioche/Babka

This month the sourdough recipe for Sourdough Surprises is to make a brioche dough and use it to make a babka.

I've never made either brioche is rich bread with high egg and butter content or babka.  Babka can be a twisted loaf with cinnamon and/or chocolate or a Urkraiain sweet bread usually containing raisins often made for Easter.

I was not able to participate due to illness and time constraints but wanted to link to the blog to have easy access to the recipes.  I do plan to try these breads someday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Update on Lulu

Well, no egg has appeared but Lulu seems back to normal.  I'm not sure what to think.  She had many of the symptoms of being egg-bound but nothing has come of it.  Lulu is eating, grooming, chattering and performing other normal chickeny behaviors.

She has been pooping alot so I am wondering if she could have been constipated.  I noticed her eating grit lately so perhaps that was part of the problem.

Lulu has had several long dirtbaths and now her feathers smell normal - which is to say - they don't smell of anything.

I have been giving her calcium and decided to continue this every day or two.  Helping Lulu consume enough calcium for strong shells is important if she continues to lay eggs on occasion.

Lulu has become very clingy though.  She sleeps beside me on the couch and usually has to be cuddled right up next to me.  If she is on the ground and comes to stand at my feet and if I don't pick her up, Lulu will peck at my pant leg as if to say, "Yoo Who!  I'm down here!  I want up!"

Lulu also doesn't like when I'm gone when she returns to a room.  She wants to know where I am at all times.  In the morning, when I am still in bed, Lulu is content to slip into my room and sleep behind the bed quietly.  But if she goes into the kitchen to eat, Lulu wants to know I'm still where she left me when she returns.  If I have moved, Lulu will start squawking and causing a fuss until I return or call to her from where ever I am.

The other day, Lulu stood outside the bathroom door causing a ruckus while I was having a bath.  When I opened the door and let her in, she was fine.  She is like a little kid who can no longer see her mom and starts to cry.  I never thought I'd have to share the bathroom with a chicken!

Since we had all the snow and cooler weather, Lulu doesn't go outside at all.  When I took her out on a sunny day, she just stood on the spot I set her down and wouldn't walk anywhere.  If I go out and leave her in the house, I find her in her kennel when I return.  I'm not sure if she needs the comfort and protection of her kennel or if Lulu is getting ready to travel with me.  When we go travelling, I often carry Lulu out in her kennel.  Wouldn't it be nice to know what a chicken actually thinks?

We are heading back to Alberta for awhile as I have to pick up my car.  We left it at my sister-in-laws and I returned home with Barry when I was sick.  Lulu won't enjoy the travelling as much as usual because there will be nowhere she can stand on the grass to stretch her legs the whole trip.  She will be content to be travelling with me though.  Me and my shadow - a chickeny one at that - will be on the road again.  Until next time - safe travelling.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Worried About Lulu

I have had several anxious days with Lulu lately.  Last week she laid an egg without a shell while sleeping on her end table.  She had been standing up and broken yolk and the rest were spread all over her bedding.  She has done this on several previous occasions when she wasn't expected to lay.  Lulu has been molting so no eggs were expected.  I was worried that the shell hadn't been expelled but later that day she got rid of a crushed very soft shell.

She seemed fine after that and all was back to normal.  Then one day earlier this week, she seemed restless and listless.  She would climb in and out of her nesting box and spent much time in her kennel.  She seemed to move with a more pronounced limp and just didn't look right.  Lulu also didn't seem to have an appetite which is very unusual for her. 

I did some research on the net and came up with the possibility that she might be egg-bound.  She had many of the symptoms that were described.  There were a number of suggestions on various sites that I tried.  I gave her a warm bath and blew dried her butt.  She seemed to like this.  It is supposed to help relax her and maybe help her lay.  Another site mentioned massaging olive oil around her vent.  This was tried and again she did not fuss.  We brought in the heat lamp that we used when the chicks were young and hung it in her corner of the kitchen.  Lulu stayed under in enjoying the heat.  I also sent Barry to the pharmacy for some dissolvable calcium and gave her a dose of that.

The result of all this were several large poops but nothing else.  She still didn't perk up much and wasn't too interested in food.  The nearest vet is 2 hours away in Kamloops so I got on the phone.  Most of the vets had no experience with chickens and I was finally given the number to the large animal clinic.  They said they dealt with farm animals but mainly horses and cows.  They were very helpful and gave me some phone numbers on the coast for vets that deal with birds.

I called one and the assistant took all the info and then passed me on to the vet.  She said to repeat the calcium and instead of olive oil use KY Jelly with finger cots and gently insert some into her vent. 

That night was tense because I was so worried about Lulu.  I sat up with her for hours while she slept beside me on the couch.  I finally went to bed but my sleep was not restful.

The next morning she seemed a bit perkier.  She had pooped several times through the night and had an appetite that morning.  Another warm bath was given, this time soapy to try to remove the olive oil as her butt feathers hung in a greasy mess.  Blow drying and KW Jelly followed. 

She seemed much more normal as the day went on - eating, sleeping and chattering normally instead of anxious behaviour.  I gave her another dose of calcium and have decided to do this on a regular basis from now on as she has often had softer shells than the other chickens. 

I'm now not sure about my diagnosis of her being egg-bound.  She did show all the symptoms that day but they have all disappeared without the appearance of an egg.  Her back end seems larger than normal but I'm not sure if that is because I'm noticing it more now or if it is actually larger.

Yesterday she even enjoyed a long dirtbath.  Since she had been sick, her feathers seemed to have a slight poopy smell to them.  Before this, they always had almost no odor to them.  After her dustbath, Lulu smelled better and got busy grooming herself.  I think she was happy that her butt feathers were now fluffy again instead of so greasy and scraggly.

I'm not sure what to do yet.  I'm still not completely at ease with this situation.  I am keeping a close eye on her but she seems to be acting quite normally.  Lulu and I have to go back to Alberta with Barry when he goes to work so I can pick up my car.  (I left it there and rode home with him when I was sick  )If I am still concerned, I have the numbers for several vets there that deal with birds.  An appointment might be in order to put my mind at ease.

We will see what happens as time goes on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Snow Day

Yesterday Barry was pruning the fruit trees as he leaves to go back to work in Alberta next week.  It started snowing in the late afternoon and continued all night.

By morning the yard looked like this.


No pruning today!   

The temperature was hovering around 0°C so it did melt some. 

Look at the snow hanging in the grape arbor.

Everything was weighted down from the moisture-heavy snow.

No ground was left uncovered, so poor Lulu won't be able to go out.  There had been some bare patches under the trees so she would go out on sunny days.  No chance of that for a fair while.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lulu's Sleeping Habits

Lulu has changed her sleeping arrangements.  Before I left for the prairies, she used to sleep on the roost that my son made for her.  There she could nibble on her food when she awoke and wasn't ready to get up yet.

However, she had fallen off a couple of times before I left.  I think she was turning around and lost her balance in the dark.  I didn't like to see Lulu sleeping on the cold, hard floor so would sometimes let her sleep on her end table in the living room.  She seemed to like it as it is covered with bedding and is soft to lay on.  The only downside is she can't eat anything until she gets down and goes into the kitchen.

While I was gone, Tina put Lulu on the end table every night so that is now her new place to sleep.  When she wakes up in the morning, she jumps down onto the couch but has trouble jumping down onto the floor.  Once on the floor, she heads into the kitchen and has her breakfast.  

Lulu then heads into my room to catch some more zzzs with me.  (I am a late riser during the winter.)  She quietly comes into the bedroom and goes behind the bed.  If she is lucky, the quilt is hanging down and she cuddles up to it.  Otherwise she sticks her head under the bedskirt and goes to sleep.

Lulu then decides when she wants to get up.  Often I will be up and gone and she stays behind the bedOn occasion, Lulu has even slept until noon!  

I find this funny that a chicken will stay up at night because we are (she is too noisy to sleep when we are still up) and sleeps in when the sun is up.  Lulu is losing her chickeny habits. ;)

 What a funny girl!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Chickadee

When I was visiting my sister-in-law, Barb at her acreage outside Edmonton, AB we were able to hand feed the chickadees.  Here are some pictures and a poem about the sweet little birds.



Just out of doors, beyond the pane,

He flits from twig to twig, his air

A jaunty grace, yet, apt to deign

A visit of the morning fair,

He calls to me,

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee !
And blithe all wintry days is he.


His garb is plain, his sable cap

Fits to his skull, and all his mien

Bespeaks his mind that scorns the lap

Of plenty, while full oft, I ween,

He laughs at me,

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee !

He loves life's care to spurn and flee.


Light little vagrant of the sky,

He fears not want nor heeds the cold,

Yet through his pranks he casts an eye

Within betimes — so slight yet bold —

And chirps to me,

Chick-a-dee- dee- dee !

Please, sir, a crumb! and wins his plea.

by C. C. Lord