KENTUCKY - After I went through my phase of raising pygmy goats, I decided to try my hand at raising chickens. I borrowed a few friends that had knowledge of how to build roosting boxes, it helped that they also knew how to use a hammer and a drill. We built several boxes and mounted them inside the barn which once housed my goats. I then got feeders and water containers ready for my new chickens. Now, all I needed was chickens.
I made several trips to the local flea market and to a few friends chicken coops and soon acquired my first group of chickens. After introducing them to their home, I started naming each of them-Tammy, Loretta, Tanya, Patsy and Reba. After settling in, they started laying eggs for me and I felt like I was going on an Easter Egg hunt each and every day. The girls loved their big barn and huge field that they could roam in anytime. I was enjoying the chickens so much, I decided to add a few more to my flock-Wynonna, Dolly, Shania and Martina.
I soon started to wonder why it was taking me so long to gather eggs and why I couldn't find them all. I had eight chickens, but I could only find four or five eggs each day. Sometimes, a chicken does not lay an egg each day, but in warm weather, a healthy chicken will usually lay one egg each day. After some research and checking in with my fellow chicken friends, I discovered that the barn that provided enough room for goats provided way too much room for chickens. Chickens do not need much room for their housing and roosting area, less is more. I found this out the hard way.
I loved sitting on the back porch and hearing the sounds of my girls clucking around the barn area. I also loved gathering the eggs and having fresh brown eggs for cooking at any time. But somewhere along the line, the girls got together and had a meeting. They decided to make the daily egg hunts harder and harder each day. I knew when I started seeing them hanging out in the hayloft; about 10 feet up off the ground, that I had been outsmarted. I called a farmer friend of mine who was a guru of the chicken world. We gathered up all the chickens and moved them to his little farm that had several nice chicken coops that had easy access for the gathering of the eggs.
I enjoyed having chickens around but once again, my barn sits empty. I think about my girls each time I buy a dozen farm fresh eggs from a stand on the side of the road......or when I eat a chicken leg.
Here are some of my favorite chicken recipes.
BLUEBERRY CHICKEN SALAD
2 c fresh blueberries
2 c cubed cooked chicken breast
3/4 c chopped celery
1/2 c diced sweet red pepper
1/2 c thinly sliced green onions
1 (6 ounce) container lemon yogurt
3 T mayonnaise
1/2 t salt
Set aside a few blueberries for garnish. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, celery, red pepper, onions and remaining blueberries. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and salt; drizzle over chicken mixture and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve on lettuce-lined plates if desired. Top with reserved blueberries.
GRILLED ORANGE CHICKEN
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c olive oil
2 t lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt, optional
2 T chopped fresh orange segments
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/4-inch strips
Combine the first nine ingredients in a re-sealable plastic, add chicken and turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain and discard marinade. Thread meat on metal or soaked wood skewers. Grill uncovered, over medium-hot heat for 6-8 minutes or until juices run clear, turning often. Serve with rice or noodles.
AVOCADO MANGO CHICKEN
1 T soy sauce
¼ c Worcestershire sauce
2 t adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chiles)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 Oz each)
1 large mango, coarsely chopped
1 large avocado, coarsely chopped
1 T finely chopped cilantro
1 T finely chopped onion
1/2 t sea salt
4 white-corn tortillas
Mix Worcestershire, soy and adobo sauces with juice from 1 of the limes in a bowl. Place chicken in a sealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350°. Combine mango, avocado, cilantro, onion, salt and juice from remaining lime in a bowl and store in refrigerator while chicken bakes. Transfer chicken and marinade to a baking dish and cook until tender and no longer pink, approximately 20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven, place each breast on a plate and top with 1/4 of mango-avocado mixture. Serve with tortillas.
NEXT WEEK—Do You Double Dip?
Remember......Life is short. Eat Dessert first!!
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