Storm, storm go away!

Storm, storm go away!

Just when we thought it was safe to go outside and replace the roof panels from the last storm, in comes Storm Doris and whips off another one! My partner had thought that when he had replaced the panel lost from Storm Angus he had tightens down the hatches on the rest of the roof. Unfortunately we weren’t expecting such strong winds, and once again it ripped off one of the roof panels from the chicken enclosure. Instead of taking the whole panel clean off, this time it snapped at an angle so it will take a bit more time to take off and repair.

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Storm Doris damage

After the wind died down the next day, I thought it would be a nice treat for the chooks to have the run of the garden. They loved scratching through the wood chip and grass to find all the tasty bugs bought to the surface by the rain. This meant that Smudge dog had to stay in but she was desperate to be out and playing with her friends.

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Mummy, I want to go out and play!

Despite the storm, the weather has been improving and getting warmer. With the girls being over their moult as well, egg production has started back up. I tried using them up in last weeks recipe for Chocolate Mousse but I can’t stay on top of how many we’re getting in. Going to have to start selling them again!

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Eggs Galore!

Speaking of moulting, a certain Smudge dog has started shedding her winter fur. We popped into the pet shop today to grab her a brush to help with the loose fur (and where she got fussed over by everyone). She also got a bone or two to distract her whilst I brushed her as I wasn’t sure how she would react to brushing but she seemed to be pretty chilled about it. Good thing as it looks like she really needed it from the amount I got off of her.

It’s been another busy, blustery week. Hopefully that’s the last of the bad weather for the year and we can get on with being happy, content chickens 🙂

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Mousse of the Chocolate variety

Mousse of the Chocolate variety

One of my favourite puddings of all time is Chocolate Mousse and being able to make a fresh batch in my own kitchen is everything. With it mostly being whipped up egg whites, having my own supply of fresh eggs to go in this yummy dessert is fabulous. Here’s my recipe to make a family friendly mousse that’s a winner every time and do those fresh eggs proud!

Ingredients

170g Dark Chocolate (at least 70% coco)

7 Egg whites

40g Caster suger

Juice squeezed from half a lemon

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water (or if you’re in the same boat as me and the bowl is too small for the pan, place it in a metal colander over the pan so the heat can still melt the chocolate).

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    Those oven-mits 😉
  2. Separate the egg whites into a large bowl and add the lemon juice which will help keep the volume in the eggs and reduce the risk of over whipping. Then whip those egg whites and add the sugar to make thick, stiff peaks with lots of volume.

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    My new best friend, a cake mixer!
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, add a third of the egg whites to the melted chocolate and whip it together. Then add the rest of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently to reduce the risk of loosing all that lovely volume.
  4. Dish up into glasses and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. It should make a family load!

Goooooood Stuff 😉

Bacon Egg Cups

Bacon Egg Cups

My boyfriend loves this bite-sized breakfast, if ever we have any spare eggs that I’m not going to sell he asks me to make bacon egg cups. They’re perfect for him as they have lots of protein so he often has a few before going to the gym. Also being small and easy to mostly prepare the night before, they’re the great for a breakfast on the go. It’s hard for these to look untidy as the egg usually shrinks into the cup, so they’re also good for entertaining when friends stay over as they look really professional. To be honest though we don’t need the excuse to make them, nor other people to help us eat them all!

Ingredients

6 slices of bread

12 rashers of bacon

Grated cheese

12 fresh chicken eggs

Method

1) Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with spray on oil to stop the cups from sticking once cooked.

2) Cut 12 circles out of the bread to create the base of the cups and place in the bottom of the tin. I use a drinking glass about the same size as the tin cases to cut of the circles and I can usually get two circles out of a single slice of bread. (The cut-offs usually go to the chickens so nothing is wasted)

3) Fry off the bacon so that it cooked through but still flexible to line the sides of the tins. The bacon will form the sides of the cups so they need to be tall enough to stop the egg spilling out. Where they shrink from cooking the rashers are not long enough to go all the way around the tin so I trim the bacon where it is taller to plug any gaps.

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4) Grate the cheese and place on top of the bread base. If you’re preparing them the night before this is as far as you can go for now. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge ready for tomorrow.

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5) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Crack a single egg into each cup. Don’t worry at this stage if a little bit overflows as the egg will shrink back into the cup when cooking.

6) Place in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes (or a bit more or less, depending on how runny you like your yolk). Once cooked take the cups out of the tins and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, enough time to get yourself a coffee!

Enjoy!

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

As promised, here’s a recipe involving our fresh chicken eggs . 2016-05-13 22.19.24

As a great lover of gin, I couldn’t help myself from adding it to one of my foodie loves, cupcakes! These fabulous little wonders are a great evening treat that goes with a well deserved  G&T, and that doesn’t have to just be at the weekends 😉 . Whilst enjoyable any time of the week, with this weekend being a bank holiday, what better time to treat yourself. If these have caught your eye, here’s how you can make them. I’ve adapted the recipe from Bake It Instinct:

Ingredients

The cupcakes:2016-05-13 20.04.30

  • 175g unsalted butter softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 4 tbsp tonic water
  • 2tbsp gin

The icing:

  • 250g unsalted butter softened
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 4tbsp gin

The decorations:

  • 1 lime halved and thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170c and place 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin
  2. Add the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat together until light and creamy. Make sure to clean down the sides to get all the sugar2016-05-13 20.13.39
  3. To this, add the eggs in one at a time and whisking in, making sure each one is fully combined before adding the next2016-05-13 20.27.54
  4. Next, sift the flour in, being careful to fold it in and not to over stir it, then stir in the tonic water
  5. Fill the 12 cases about 2/3 full with the mixture, then bake for approximately 20 mins.They should come out golden, springy and a skewer should come out clean2016-05-13 20.52.03
  6. Once cooked, remove from tins and place on cooling rack
  7. Whilst still hot, pierce each one with a skewer 6 times evenly across the tops and brush as much gin as you like (I went a bit crazy with this step!)2016-05-13 21.18.53
  8. To make the icing, soften the butter with a whisk, slowly adding in the icing sugar and whisking until fully combined
  9. Add to that the juice of lime and the gin into the icing, whipping again until light
  10. Once the cakes are room temperature, pipe the icing on to the cakes using a piping bag and add the slice of lime on top to decorate

    If you have any spare icing, it’s very yummy just to eat on it’s own. Be careful though, it can get you pretty tipsy without you realising it! Happy Bank Holiday from all the chickens. Enjoy 🙂

Eggy madness

Eggy madness

This week I’ve been trying to use up the eggs that we’ve been getting from the girls. It seems that we’re getting about 4-5 eggs per day now so the fridge fills up faster than you think. So to get through them, for the first time in my life I’ve been cooking with eggs!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting up the recipes on how to make these scrummy yummy eggy so you can make these too and whatever else I get to making with the eggs.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been making:

Brownies

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Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce

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Victoria Sponge

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Bacon Egg Cups

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But because I still had loads of eggs left I’ve started to sell them at £1 for 6 eggs! Already had some good feedback about them so I’m looking forward to more satisfied customers!

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Don’t forget to get all the up-to-date news on the hen’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. To follow just click the links in the right hand menu. Happy clucking!

Eggs and Bedtime

Eggs and Bedtime

The chucks have been here for four days now and already we have eggs! I’m genuinely surprised because I thought it would take them longer to settle in and de-stress enough to produce eggs. It seems though that they’re getting to know where home is quicker than I thought.

About Wednesday lunchtime after their first night with us, I heard a lot of clucking from the coop. As this was the most noise I’d heard them make I thought I’d go and check out what was up and, lo and behold, I found our first egg in the nest box! I did a bit of Googling and I think that it came from one of the Black Rocks as they are the oldest and produce darker eggs with a few speckles on them.

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Our First Egg! From the Black Rock.

This morning when we let them out we found another egg! This time it was a plain white one and considering the next oldest are the Mottled Leghorns we reckon it was one of them (and after another Google search I’m pretty confident it was one of them).

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Our second egg from the Leghorn.

Egg number 3 arrived shortly after at lunchtime (another Black Rock dark speckled egg) and just before popping the chucks to bed we found egg number 4! This again was a plain white one but it was a bit misshapen and not formed very well. This is probably the first egg that one of the Mottled Leghorns had lain as, even though they are  second oldest, they are only 24 weeks old and have only just started laying so she has probably not quite got the hang of it yet. In a week or so though they should be perfectly formed though. They’ll still taste wonderful though!

Speaking of getting the hang of things, we had to teach them when and where to go to bed. On the first night they needed a little persuading to go into the coop. In fact we had to herd them up and pop some of the younger ladies, our Warrens, in by hand because they didn’t like the ladder.

We did that Wednesday and Thursday night too but tonight we made progress! We didn’t have to pick up any stragglers or even herd them into the corner by the coop. As soon as they saw us come into the enclosure, they knew it was bedtime and all went up one by one (despite the hold up at the entrance because they all wanted to sleep at that end but a bit of pushing past sorted that out!).

Breakfast on the other hand is an easier affair, where all you have to do is open the coop door and everyone is out and ready for breakfast! Here’s some of them making their way out:

Morning march for breakfast! #chickens #breakfast #happychickens

A post shared by Hannah's Hens (@hannahshens) on

So all is well in our little chicken haven, they’re settling in really well and seem really happy. The next steps are to get them used us and to being held so it makes health checks easier and most importantly, finalising names for our lovely ladies! Happy clucking all!!

Speckled eggs: On trend for Easter 

Speckled eggs: On trend for Easter 

This Easter, the trendy design that seems to be everywhere is speckled eggs. There are so many sweet treats along the speckled egg theme, from cupcakes to cookies, macaroons, and obviously the original speckled egg product, mini eggs! That’s not to mention all the Easter decorations: wreaths, table centre pieces and even nail art! Speckled eggs are definitely in! 

Egg wreath, Table centre piece, Nail polish from Models Own.

Cake recipe, Macaroons, Cupcakes and Mini eggs available from Tesco.

As with many of our trends, speckled egg products are something that we’ve taken the idea for from nature. As many birds produce eggs during the Easter period, it’s makes sense that we associate eggs with spring and Easter. The beauty of speckled eggs has not gone unnoticed until now though, they were first made popular by Victorians trying to obtain many specimens for their collections. Many of these collections are now kept safe in private collections and museums. Due to the law of 1981, all wild birds eggs are now protected and must not be taken from the nests, so if you do come across any wild bird eggs, please don’t go moving them (for more info see the RSPB website).

There are many birds that produce speckled eggs, including some breeds of chickens, robins, blackbirds and many ground dwelling birds, such as quails.


It is commonly thought that they produce speckled eggs to help with camouflaging the eggs and concealing them from predators that would see them on the ground. Quails have this down to an art, by selecting an area to lay their eggs in that matches the speckled pattern on her eggs (summary of the study here). However, new ideas have arisen that suggest that the specks indicate where the shell is at its weakest and actually help to strengthen the shell, as seen in great tit eggs (for a summary of the study click here).

Cuckoos are possibly my favourite example though of why their eggs are speckled. If you’re not aware, cuckoos lay their eggs in another species’ nest so that the cuckoo offspring are raised by the host parents and not the real cuckoo parents. To ensure that the egg is not detected, cuckoos can imitate other bird eggs right down to the speckled patterning to conceal their egg’s identity within a host nest! More information on host species and cuckoo egg mimicry can be found here.

Whilst pretty to us, speckled eggs are an adaptation to the environment and situation that the birds are in. Hopefully with the protective laws, they’ll be around for us to admir for years to come (and make tasty chocolate treats that look like them)!

From us all at Hannah’s Hens, we wish you a Happy Easter!