Spring? Maybe?

Hyacinth buds

Hyacinth buds

It’s been a hell of a winter here on Long Island. And it has lasted far beyond the norm. But we’re finally getting real, warm(ish) days here. The garden is being planted, new fruit trees and bushes are going in.

And Jam season is starting.

Helleborus in bloom

Helleborus in bloom

 

You’ll notice that the available jams list is fairly slim pickings right now. That’s okay. It means that we were able to sell out of most of our stock, just in time for the season to get going again. For me, this is great news, and lets me expand and create more flavors this year! Some favorites will be returning, and some flavors are getting retired. And some new options are on the horizon! Current available flavors are as follows:

Available Jams, Jellies and Preserves: 8 oz jars- $6

Three-Chili Strawberry Mango Jam

Brown Sugar Clementine Marmalade with Vanilla

Autumn Pear Jam

Passion Fruit Jelly

Now available, Jammed In After Dark, which feature a special grown up taste- booze! These mature flavors actually don’t have an alcohol content (cooking and all that) but still taste like a night on the town. All After Dark flavors are 8 oz jars, and cost $7 each.

Grape-Port Wine Jam

You’ll notice that the Three-Chili Strawberry Mango is back on the list! We ran out of this flavor fast last year, and this year I’ll be making more to try to make up for it. Other favorites from last year that I will be making again as the fruits come in to season:

Strawberry Margarita Jam (After Dark flavor)

Plum Strawberry with Rosemary

Sweet Cherry Plum Chipotle

Peach Pie Jam

Peach Pear Ginger

Pear Cranberry with Sage

Chai Apple Jelly

 

And new flavors? Some were requested at events last year, and some are just things I’d really like to offer.

Strawberry Rhubarb (very soon!)

Apple Jam with Dried Cherries and Bourbon (After Dark)

Passion Fruit Ghost Chili (for my chili-heads)

 

Camellia

Camellia are just starting to bloom!

Happy spring is here? I am.

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We’re back!

After some serious back end issues that needed the professionals to fix (thanks Wes and Pete!) we’re back up and running. No recipe today, just a quick hello and an update on available flavors for the holiday season.

Available Jams, Jellies and Preserves: 8 oz jars- $6

Sweet Cherry Plum Chipotle (NEW)

Nectarine Chili Lime Jam

Scotch Bonnet Lime Sauce (limited quantity)

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Sauce

Autumn Pear Jam (BACK)

Pear-Cranberry Jam with Sage (BACK)

Plum Vanilla Jam

Strawberry-Plum Jam with Rosemary

Passion Fruit Jelly

Chai Apple Jelly

Now available, new Jammed In After Dark, which feature a special grown up taste- booze! These mature flavors actually don’t have an alcohol content (cooking and all that) but still taste like a night on the town. All After Dark flavors are 8 oz jars, and cost $7 each.

Strawberry Chianti Jam

Plum-Cherry Jam with Seville Orange Vanilla brandy

Grape-Port Wine Jam (NEW)

 

Several flavors that we sold out of over the summer are back: Autumn Pear Jam and Pear-Cranberry Jam with Sage. Flavors like Peach Pie, Three Chili Strawberry Mango, and Strawberry Margarita won’t be back again until their fruits are back is season. Sorry!

Other flavors will be returning though! The end of autumn is bringing back Apple-Cranberry Jam with Rosemary and Moroccan Pomegranate Jelly. Citrus season is on the horizon, which means marmalade! Look for Brown Sugar Clementine Marmalade with Vanilla as well as something new in the marmalade department!

We also have a couple of new flavors to introduce:

Sweet Cherry Plum Chipotle – This is a sweet and smoky number that offers the essence of summer barbeque any time of year. Just a little heat makes this jam particularly good for serving on crackers with cheese or for brushing over meat.

Grape-Port Wine Jam – Grape jam grows up- and it is bright, rich and surprisingly deep. Made with late season grapes, this Jam is perfect with brie, or try it on toast with almond butter. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Canning Basics Round-Up

Canning Basics Round-Up

Lately, I’ve had a couple people ask me why I don’t have any canning basics on Jammed In. Why do none of my recipes go in to the details of water bath canning, canning safety, acidity, sugar as a preserving agent, etc.

Honestly, it is because I assumed that most of the people who find my recipes already have a basis in water bath canning. It was a poor assumption, because a lot of people stumbling across my little corner of the internet are new to canning and are just getting started. This is great! But also confounding to people just getting started because there are a lot of recipes that say “do this” (mine included) but don’t say WHY. And that why is important. Not just important, imperative. The process and the science of canning (both water-bath and pressure canning) is integral to the safety of the finished product. Understanding acidity, processing time, head space and the like are incredibly important when it comes to if that jar of stuff you just made is/will be safe for your family to eat six months from now or not. And this is the big, scary issue that frighten away a lot of would-be canners – the issue of safety and potentially poisoning their families.

Another reason that I haven’t really written a lot about the basics is because it’s already out there. There are dozens of good, reliable sites about canning safety and honestly, I can’t improve on what they have to say. But what I *can* do is help collect that information to make it more readily available to my readers. Below are a series of links, grouped as best as I can, by topic, to help guide you with the basics of home canning and safety. All of them are trusted resources and won’t steer you wrong.

Water-Bath Canning Basics

Home Canning @ National Center for Home Food Preservation

Getting Started Canning Guide @ Ball Jar

How to Get Started Canning @ SBCanning

Canning 101 @ Hungry Tigress

Water Bath Canning – Step By Step @ SBCanning

How to Check That Your Seal is Good @ FoodinJars

Why You Should Bubble Your Jars @ FoodinJars

The Importance of Headspace @ SBCanning

High Acid, Low Acid, Waterbath or pressure can – the fundamental decision of canning @ Wellpreserved

 

Canning Safety

How to Not Die From Botulism: What Home Canners Need to Know About the World’s Most Deadly Toxin @ Northwest Edible Life START HERE. Best write up. Ever. And there is an awesome infograph about it! With Iron Man metaphors! Seriously, can’t recommend this one enough, especially for nervous new-folk.

Ensuring Safe Canned Foods @ National Center for Home Food Preservation

Equipment and Methods Not Recommended @ National Center for Home Food Preservation

Waterbath Canning: The Two Keys to Safety @ Wellpreserved

Why Recipes call for Bottled Lemon Juice @ FoodinJars

How to Can Creatively and Still Be Safe @ FoodinJars

Why You Shouldn’t Can Like Your Grandmother Did @ FoodinJars

How to Get Rid of Canned Goods Gone Bad @ FoodinJars

The Multipe Problems Around Advice on Preserving Tomato Sauce @ Wellpreserved

 

Storage Information

How to Store Home Canned Goods @ National Center for Home Food Preservation

Storage Dos and Don’ts @ SBCanning

 

Canning Trouble Shooting

Why You Shouldn’t Double Batches of Jam @ FoodinJars

Loss of Liquid in Jars @SBCanning

This is not an exhaustive list of every article on canning out there, obviously. These are just some of the ones I find the most helpful, though all of the sites linked to have far more good information to offer.

One of the biggest strengths of the internet is the ability to share information instantly with millions of people. That’s also one of its biggest flaws. There is a huge amount of conflicting information about canning and its safety, many people stating that “I’ve always done it this way (and even though it isn’t recommended) I/my family has never gotten sick, so you can do it this way too.”

I have never made a recipe that had that sort of disclaimer in it. Never. And I never will, at least, not for preservation purposes. Because there are so many SAFE and TESTED recipes out there. If I am in doubt about the acidity of a preserve I am trying I will not risk my family, friends or customers health because someone else said “This is good enough.”

I have been canning for ten years now, and I will still consult the published canning books I own (too many/not enough, I never know) when I am trying something I am not familiar with. All of the sites linked above also have good, safe recipes that don’t skimp on flavor and that I highly recommend. Some preserves are easy to make and difficult to mess up (peach jam for instance) from a safety stand point, and you will get to a point where you can do them without consulting a recipe. But some require a very specific balance of acid (figs, white peaches, pickles) that make them safe to water bath can. Doesn’t mean you can’t make them and keep them in the fridge! Don’t let me stop you from doing that, please! My favorite gingery beet pickles I can’t can because the vinegar is too low, but I still love to make them as refrigerator pickles. Have a blast! But if in doubt, don’t can it.

The most frequent question I get when I am teaching is “How can I make sure I don’t kill my family with botulism?”. And that’s telling. Canning can be scary – if you don’t have the information you need. But done correctly, canning is an extremely safe and satisfying way to feed your family, extend your garden eating season and try some new and wonderful flavors in your kitchen. Canning isn’t an archaic masonic secret process. But it IS science. And science is awesome.

Canning can be time consuming and daunting when you are first getting in to it. Start small, and with things your family will eat (don’t make 20 pints of india relish if you don’t even know what india relish tastes like). So read up, take a class if you can (more and more are popping up), and get together with friends. Be safe. Have fun. In that order.

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Wonderful Weekend

Just a short note to let you all know that I had a truly amazing weekend at the Holbrook Carnival. Met a lot of great people, had wonderful feedback on the jams and generally had a great time. The available jams page has been updated to reflect what we sold out of, though the Peach Pie will make a reappearance since peach season isn’t over just yet!

Thank you everyone who came out and made the weekend just a wonderful experience!

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Vending at the Holbrook Carnival

We’ll have a table at the 19th Annual Holbrook Carnival this weekend! It is located at Seneca Middle School on Main St. in Holbrook, for those interested in joining us. The carnival runs from tonight (the 15th) until Sunday (the 18th), though we will only be vending on Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th. The carnival is open to all, not just Holbrook residents. It is free to enter, and has rides (tickets or a bracelet), games, food (oh, the sausage and peppers booth of the last two years, I dream of you all year), live music, raffles and of course, crafts and vendors!

We will be bringing with us jams (of course), but also one ounce, pre-packaged loose leaf teas as well. What exactly are we bringing?

All of our 8oz, $6 regular jars of jam:

Peach Pie Jam

Peach-Pear Ginger Jam

Nectarine Chili Lime Jam

Plum Vanilla Jam

Plumberry Jam with Rosemary

Three Chili Strawberry-Mango Jam (limited numbers of the 4oz size still left for this flavor)

Scotch Bonnet Lime Sauce

Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Rosemary

Brown Sugar Clementine Marmalade with Vanilla

Candied Tangerine in Cranberry Syrup

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Sauce

Autumn Pear Jam

Pear-Cranberry Jam with Sage

Passionfruit Jelly

Chai Apple Jelly

We are also bringing the new line of jams, called Jammed In After Dark, which feature a special grown up taste- booze! These mature flavors actually don’t have an alcohol content (cooking and all that) but still taste like a night on the town. All After Dark flavors are 8 oz jars, and cost $7 each.

Strawberry Margarita Jam

Strawberry Chianti Jam

Plum-Cherry Jam with Seville Orange Vanilla brandy

 

The carnival opens at noon on Saturday and Sunday, and we hope to see you there!

 

Posted in Events, Jam/Jelly, Marmalade | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Frugal Fridays: Chive Blossom Vinegar

Welcome to Frugal Friday. We’ll look into inexpensive, thrifty ways to get the most bang for your buck from your food. Either making high end, expensive condiments from scratch for pennies on the dollar, or utilizing parts of our food that would usually go to the compost or get thrown out, we’re going to look at easy ways to stretch a food lovers budget without sacrificing on flavor, and in some instances, improve upon it.

Some quick Jammed In news before we get to the recipe….

New flavors are available, and some old flavors have fallen off the map until autumn comes around again. I am discontinuing the 4oz size jams, and will be only offering the 8oz once the 4oz I have stocked are gone.

I will be vending at the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce Carnival on August 17th and 18th. It is located at Seneca Middle School in Holbrook. There will be rides, games, live music, craft vendors and some great food, not to mention fireworks! Come on down and have some fun with us :)

 

Chive blossom vinegar. How is it that I have not made it before this year? I’ve been growing chives in my yard as long as I’ve lived here…. they were a plant left behind by my mother when she lived here. So I really have no excuse. Every late spring, when the chives would flower their cute little purple pom poms, I would enjoy them for a couple weeks as they were, or I would bring some inside as cut flowers. And when we ate them, it was usually just sprinkled over a green salad, or if I was feeling fancy, mixed in to chicken salad.

Chive Blossom Vinegar @ Jammedin.com

I had been missing out.

Chive blossom vinegar is very easy to make. And since chives are such an easy perennial herb to grow, anyone, even those of you with the blackest of thumbs, should be able to handle them. Chives need partial sun at least, though they do best in full sun, handle drought well (i.e. once established, I water mine maaaaybe once a month, and that’s only if it doesn’t rain around here for two or three weeks), and will come back every year. You can even grow them in pots with a well draining soil mix! I divide mine every couple of years to keep the bunch happy and healthy, though I’ve run out of friends and family who want chive plants, so now I guess its time to start ding-dong-ditching them with the neighbors, huh? Or guerilla gardening. Hmmm, that has merit……

Chive Blossom Vinegar @ Jammedin.com

Anyway, chive blossom vinegar is easy and *delicious*. It has a moderate flavor of oniony chives, and a beautiful purple colour that looks really impressive if you choose to gift it. I’ve found that it is great for making salad dressing especially, but you don’t have to stop there. Use it in homemade mustard, fresh ketchup, in coleslaw or potato salad, quick refrigerator pickles, or anywhere you are using vinegar with a light application of heat. I have found that the chive flavor doesn’t hold up as well with long cooking times, so in dishes that do have long cooking times, try adding the vinegar toward the end of the process to preserve the flavor.

My favorite way to use it? Whisked with a little sugar, black pepper, and salt and used to dress a salad of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, thin sliced radishes and red onions. Mmmmmm……

You know what else? If you grow the chives, it’s *cheap*. They charge an arm and a leg for fancy, gourmet vinegars at the stores. You could use really expensive vinegar to make this, but really, you don’t have to. Just don’t use the cheapest stuff, that turpentine that’s really only good for cleaning with (you know what I’m talking about). The chive flavor is pretty punchy, so you don’t need an expensive, delicately flavored vinegar for this. I used a fairly inexpensive bottle of white wine vinegar for mine. You could use what you like, so long as it doesn’t taste like liquid gross. And a little goes a long way in recipes. Splash it in and marvel at the amazing flavor.

The recipe below is a scaled recipe, and really more of a process than a true recipe. You can make as much or as little as you want, and it keeps well in the cabinet for over a year.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Makes however much you want.

Chive blossoms

Vinegar (White wine, cider, rice wine, etc)

1. Harvest your chive blossoms right before you are going to use them. Wash them lightly but thoroughly and really look at them- sometimes ants like to hang out in the chive blossoms at my house, and while they won’t *really* adversely effect the vinegar, I prefer to avoid them. Dry them well using a salad spinner if you have one, or pat gently with a tea towel.

Chive blossom vinegar @ Jammedin.com

2. Get a glass container of whatever size you desire. Could be a pint, could be a quart. I made a half gallon myself. You will want the container to be small enough that the chive blossoms you have will fill it half way when gently packed in. Don’t crush the heck out of them, but its okay if they are a little scrunched.

Chive blossom vinegar @ Jammedin.com

3. Pour your vinegar of choice over the blossoms. I like to use white wine vinegar for these, but really any kind you like best will do. I’d avoid plain white vinegar because of its harsh flavor, and red wine vinegar which will mask the lovely purple, but that is completely up to you. Use a chopstick or spoon to stir, making sure that most of the air bubbles are out of your packed (now likely floating) chive blossoms. Cover tightly.

4. Put the jar in a dark place. Whenever you think about it, take it out and shake it a little. Your vinegar will be done when the liquid is purple and the chive blossoms are pale and sad looking- about 2 weeks.

5. When done steeping, strain out the chive blossoms. A second filtering, through a coffee filter or doubled cheesecloth may be done to get the smallest debris out of the vinegar. Filter the vinegar in to a clean glass bottle and cap it. Store it in the cabinet, no need to refrigerate.

Chive blossom vinegar @ Jammedin.com

You can use them method on just about any garden herb really. Basil, oregano, dill, whatever makes you happy. And the vinegar will keep for ages. Its a great, simple, way to put up the flavors of these herbs and they make excellent gifts.

*****

Shared at Little House in the Suburbs

 

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I’m in the Garden

This time of year is a busy one for me.  My home is not a farm, but these days it resembles one. The garden is producing every day and missing just a day of activity results in missed opportunities. The majority of our produce comes from our yard, between the months of May and October, but July and August more than any other time. We’re still eating snap peas, arugula, radishes and lettuce, but now the pole beans, shelling beans and string beans are all coming in to their own. The smallest varieties of cucumbers have been sharing with us for a week now and summer squashes are slipped in to most dishes. Carrots and beets abound, while celery, lovage, chives, basil, parsley, oregano, sage and other herbs are being constantly harvested. Tomatoes are green on the vine, but the earliest are just starting to blush and winter squash is blossoming with promise. This has been a bad year for peppers in my neck of the woods, but the hot peppers are gamely giving it their all and I expect serranos along with thai dragon, and scotch bonnets.  A lone ghost pepper plant is flowering now, which is rather exciting as I’m still unsure if we have enough warm days for the peppers to ripen, but it will be an interesting experiment in them nonetheless.

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Every day sees blueberries and raspberries in the house, which is wonderful, because my son and daughter eat them by the handfuls. Rose will eat them right off of the bushes, but my son is interested this year for the first time in actually helping to bring in some of the food destined for the table and he has been an attentive learner. Everybearing strawberries offer a berry or two a day, but then there are only two window boxes planted with them and they are more for the novelty than anything else. Currants and sour cherries have been harvested, while gooseberries are in that process now….. I harvested 10 pounds of gooseberries this past weekend and still have at least that much again still on the bushes. We are still looking forward to the shiro plums, though the heavy rains of two weeks ago knocked all of the developing fruit from the persimmon and quince tree.

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The quail are doing what quail do best- eating and, well, you know. We have yet to see eggs, but they are just six weeks old, so I’m not worried. It could still be two weeks before that happens. We had an unfortunate experience where one of the males killed one of the others and injured a second. The reality of raising livestock animals was very, very clear to me while dealing with the aftermath. Culling the injured quail to ease his suffering and then the perpetrator to protect the rest of my flock was both easier and more difficult than I was expecting. Making the hard decisions for the sake of your animals is just that- hard. But utterly necessary if you are going to be raising animals for food. Responsible animal husbandry is important, and something we will strive to accomplish at every turn, from the moment an egg is laid until the animal is ready to be processed. Humane living and humane dying. But still, it isn’t easy. And it never should be.

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Of course, preserving is going on. Dehydrating, freezing, canning. Batches of gooseberry jam, strawberry chocolate sauce, strawberry-chianti jam, strawberry-blueberry jam, beet and carrot pickles, Chive blossom vinegar, plus a half dozen others have paraded through my kitchen. Dried herbs for the winter, frozen greens and fruit, and new combinations for blended teas join them. Plans for mustards, strawberry cordial, chai apple jelly and other keep parading through my head. Some of these are for our family, some for Jammed In. I am preparing for a rather large event in August and still have a ways to go before I am happy with the stock situation for the fair.

On top of all of this, we lost our bloody minds and decided to get a puppy. Our dog Fil, an elderly, wonderful poodle, passed away of old age several weeks ago, and while getting a puppy was not strictly an intention, we fell in love with a Great Pyrenees/ Australian shepherd mix and Kai (short for Chimera) joined the family. We had a close call with him when he came down with pneumonia a few days after he came home with us, but he’s well on the mend and the vet was fantastic. He and Cammy (our Staffordshire terrier) get along swimmingly, and he’s a sweetheart all around. He and Rose are in cahoots however, trading toys through the kitchen gate I have separating them. It will be interesting.

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This time of year, my world revolves around food. Growing it. Putting it up. Preparing it. Eating it. I dream about the garden, about the quail, and wake up in the morning with a mounting list of things that must be done. TODAY! Even if, really, I can do them tomorrow and the god of beets won’t be too terribly upset. The tomatoes won’t shrivel and fall off the vine. Certain chores cannot be missed and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing something that I know I’m just going to have to do tomorrow too. It’s repetitive. It’s wonderful. It’s exhausting and exhilarating.

But mostly, it’s delicious.

So please forgive me for not posting new recipes lately.

You see, I’ve been in the garden.

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Lady Grey Tea Cake with Honey drizzle

I have this particular relationship with cakes. I tend to not like them very much. It was really as simple as that. My past experiences have made me, at best, disinterested in most cake. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a good cheesecake or even a funky coloured frosted cupcake at a kid’s party, but a regular, frosted cake? I’ll pass and let someone else have my slice. Either the cake is dry or the frosting is too rich or half a dozen other reasons to not like it and I get very ‘first world problems’ about this lack of decent cake. Other than one wonderful lady I know who makes a fabulous chocolate birthday cake for her family, I haven’t had a decent homemade cake probably ever. Not that I can remember at least. So I’ve decided that cake just isn’t for me, and why waste my time on what I have perceived to be a rather finicky and uncertain project when I can bake cookies or something?

Except that a couple days ago I woke up with the idea in my head that I was going to bake a cake. And not just any cake. But *that* cake. The one I’d seen on Pastry Affair and has been haunting my dreams for weeks now. It looked light, just sweet enough, and I could sub out the buttercream frosting for something else. Honey? I wished that I had some lavender honey steeping in the cabinet, but the amazing local honey I had from an apiary less than 10 minutes from my house would just have to do. Oh woe is the chef. ::cough::

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Anyway, I went rooting around beneath my cabinets for a little used piece of kitchen paraphernalia. I knew I had one. Where was it? Beneath the box of extra wine glasses? No. How about behind the pot lids? Not there either, huh? Whoops, there it was! All the way in the back beneath a glass saucepan. I really need to organize this better, I thought to myself as I pulled out my spring form pan. I wiped it down, looked it over and proclaimed it good. Now, here is something that rarely happens in my kitchen…. my kitchen is small, so I don’t tend to keep around specific use items if don’t use them. But I had this spring form pan that I have never. Once. Used.

In over seven years.

Yup, this pan has been kicking around my kitchen (my last three kitchens in fact) for over seven years. I got it from a would-be beau who was trying just a bit *too* hard to impress me. He came over with this brand new pan and made me an admittedly pretty good cheesecake. But I was newly divorced at the time and had no interest in a relationship. Despite that, he let me keep the pan. And there it sat, unused but waiting, until I had the manic desire to bake a cake.

So I got out my ingredients, made a single substitution to the cake recipe itself (Lady Grey tea instead of plain black tea)…. and had to resist the urge to just sit and eat the batter with a spoon. Well, I could content myself with the beaters. And I did, happily enjoying the bit of batter left behind after I had popped my cake in to the-

What was that?

*Plop HISS*

What in the world?

*Plop HISS*

That cake just went in, it couldn’t possibly be rising that quickly.

*Plop- SIZZLE*

It was the damn spring form pan. It was LEAKING. Out the bottom. All of my precious cake batter. And not a little leak… leaking like a faucet. I may not use them often, but I’m pretty sure I closed it right. I know that a lot of spring-form pans leak a bit, but this was ridiculous. So I swooped in and rescued the cake-to-be, transferring the batter to a regular round glass cake pan. Maybe I’ll get another spring form pan… and maybe I’ll get a silicon cake pan. Who knows. For now, I just wanted to get the cake in the oven.

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Despite the tribulations, the cake turned out beautifully. Absolutely lovely. It has a great texture, fine crumb, its lightly sweet, and I love it drizzled with honey. This cake is very versatile, and could be used for a number of occasions. I think it would be good for a grown up birthday cake with frosting (like the original honey buttercream), served with afternoon tea, or even dessert for a week night. I admit, it was breakfast for me one morning. And it even keeps fairly well. I consumed the last slice this morning, four days later, and it was still soft and moist. Even the kids liked it, and since I can rarely stand the types of cake my son prefers, I call that a win.

Lady Grey Tea Cake with Honey Drizzle

From Pastry Affair

Makes a 9 inch cake

1 cup  milk
3 tablespoons (or the loose tea from three tea bags) lady grey tea
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

honey

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

2. Warm the milk to near boiling (don’t let it boil or burn) on the stove top. Add the loose tea to the milk. Stir and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. In one bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in oil and vanilla. Pouring gradually,  fold in the dry ingredients. Stir in the brewed tea milk until the batter is smooth.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.

5. To serve, drizzle each slice with about a half a tablespoon of honey.

 

 

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Raising Quail Chicks

Quail chicks still in the incubator, so very tired.

Quail chicks still in the incubator, so very tired.

It has been almost two weeks since the quail chicks hatched. And the rate they are growing is pretty amazing. Knowing, academically, that quail mature in 6-8 weeks is very different from actually seeing it. We had nine chicks hatch and at almost two weeks, all nine are still with us. One is fully half the size of the others, and I’ve been watching him (her?) with some trepidation, but the little bugger is doing well and I am very pleased so far by the whole experience.

Before going any further, I am not an expert. This is a whole new ball game for me, but its been fun, exciting and pretty eye-opening. You can google raising quail chicks and find all sorts of official looking suggestions. I’m going to touch on the basics, but also put my own experiences as I go.

- Start by hatching your quail eggs!

Two day old quail chicks.

Two day old quail chicks.

Two day old chick.

Two day old chick.

- Have your brooder ready before the chicks even start to hatch. A brooder is anything that the quail can live in with high sides that can be kept easily cleaned. I used a large storage container that we used to keep Christmas decorations in. Some people use aquarium tanks. I would shy away from anything that can’t be wiped down, like cardboard boxes.

-I lined the bottom of my brooder with old bath towels at first. You want something the chicks can get traction on so that their legs don’t keep sliding apart- this can lead to a condition known as splayed legs. Yup, pretty much self explanatory in the name, I know, but it’s serious and can lead to serious health conditions as the quails get bigger. Easiest way to deal with it is to avoid it. You can switch to newspaper and shredded paper later to make clean up easier. I added a layer of shredded paper after the first week to make cleaning easier.

-Have a waterer and feeder ready to go. The waterer should have marbles or other smooth, clean stones in it. This is because, as cute as they are, quail chicks are not very bright and can drown themselves. After the first week I removed the marbles without any mishaps. Food should be a non-medicated Game Bird Starter. This has a higher protein content than regular chick starter, and the quail need that. I had to grind mine further for the first week and a half. A mortar and pestle works just fine, or you could use a food processor. Think sand, not powder.

Top: Game Bird starter crumbles. Bottom: ground up crumbles, better for tiny birds.

Top: Game Bird starter crumbles. Bottom: ground up crumbles, better for tiny birds.

How often to feed and water them? Whenever the waterer or food bowl is empty or soiled. Don’t skimp on fresh food and clean water. These guys are doubling in size every week or so and they need it.

-You will want a heat lamp. I have read differing accounts of the best temperature newly hatched quail prefer. It seems to range between 92-98 degrees. I accomplished this with a regular 100 watt incandescent bulb. The type of bulb is important because many of the newer, energy efficient bulbs put off very little excess heat, and it is the heat, not the light, we want here. Though some people recommend a 250 watt red light bulb (which I purchased at the feed store), I found that it kept the brooder WAY too warm and I had to switch to a lower watt bulb. If you are keeping them in the house, the 250 watt is probably not necessary. If you are keeping them in an unheated garage, barn, etc, you might want the warmer bulb.

This all sounds very complicated, but really, the chicks will tell you. If they are all huddled up right under the lamp (in the warmest part of the brooder) they are too cold and either need you to lower the lamp or put in a warmer bulb. If they are scattered to the edges or laying about with their legs and wings all splayed out, they are too warm, and you need to raise the lamp or switch to a cooler bulb. I’ve noticed that, no matter how warm the brooder is, my chicks prefer to sleep all together, but they don’t pile up on each other unless they are chilly.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, you can drop to a lower wattage as they start to feather out. Our house is around 78-82F during the day this time of year, and at almost two weeks, I’ve just started turning the lamp off during the day and turning it on before I go to bed at night when the temps dip back to the mid 60′s.

One week old quail chicks.

One week old quail chicks.

One week old quail chicks.

One week old quail chicks.

One week old chick. Protesting this indignity.

One week old chick. Protesting this indignity.

 

-When moving the chicks from the incubator to the brooder- You need to, gently, dunk their beaks in the water to show them where it is and what it is. I did this twice, once when they first went in and again when they were all in the brooder since I had a pretty staggered hatch. Chicks can go a while without food…. not as long as chicken chicks, but they will survive if it takes them a bit to figure out the crumbles…. but they can die in a couple hours without water.

-Put a top on the brooder. Use mesh or an old window screen (that’s what we’re using), something that will let air through but keep the chicks from jumping/flying out. Mine are starting to flap and there have been a few near escapes because of it. Put the top on the brooder BEFORE you think they can jump high enough to get out. The softer mesh of the window screen is nice, because I know there is some give to it and they can’t hit it hard enough to hurt themselves.

-Clean the brooder. I do mine every 2-3 days, depending on how messy/stinky it gets. Clean the food dish and waterer everyday. Seriously, they get gross, and that can’t be good for them. If it looks too funky, feel free to do it more often.

-I handle the chicks every day. Every one gets taken out, inspected and held. Which means that while my chicks will still scatter when I reach in the brooder (they are prey animals after all) they are very calm once they are in my hands. I’ve found that they do not prefer to feel confined, but will sit calmly in my loosely cupped hands and let me handle them. They will cry if they get distressed, and will sometimes throw up if they get too wound up or frightened. This happened to me exactly once. It wasn’t as gross as expected, but it gave me a good idea the level of stress they can take while handling.

Keep an eye on their health. Their eyes should be bright, their movements perky and not sluggish and their butts fluffy without any feces stuck and dried there.

Two week old chick.

Two week old chick.

-The chicks will cry, especially when separated. This is heartbreaking and hilarious in turns. They have a very soft peeping sound that indicates they are happy and comfortable.

-The chicks will start to feather out and get scruffy looking by the beginning of the second week. When they are fully feathered out (3-4 weeks) they can go outside if the temperatures are warm enough. What’s warm enough? How warm is your house when their heat lamp isn’t on? Are they comfortable? Then that as a low nighttime temperature is warm enough. I think it will vary for how warm people keep the chicks in the last week or so. Even though they are only two weeks old, my chicks are pretty comfortable in the mid 70′s, because I didn’t lose my mind keeping them at 95F once they started to feather out. I watched them, not the thermometer, and once they started to feather out, they did pretty well. I’m hoping that, weather permitting, mine will be ready to go out between 3 and 4 weeks old.

-Enjoy. Seriously, that’s a step. Enjoy the little critters. Let any kids that you know enjoy them, whether yours or someone else’s. Just don’t get too attached if you are raising them for livestock purposes. For us, these are not pets. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think they are adorable.

Calm and happy.

Calm and happy.

 

Raising Japanese Coturnix Quail Chicks on Punk Domestics

 

 

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Fluffy Little Nuggets

Short post just to let anyone reading know….

The quail are hatching! So far two are out, the first already in the brooder before the second one hatched. Two other eggs are pipped and we are very excited!

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