Monday, September 17, 2007

Cook Stoves and Hidden Eggs

Aaron and I finally installed our new wood cook stove (a wedding gift from my parents), and while figuring it out has been an adventure, we've enjoyed the process. The idea of cooking predominately with wood came from many conversations about eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels, talking with people we know who use a wood stove for cooking, and the kicker, our gas stove finally died on us. When my parents offered to get us a new stove as a wedding gift, we didn't even bother looking at anything else. The very first thing we cooked our new 6-burner wood stove was, of course, eggs. (More about our egg news later). It has a small fire box, and a few different ways to adjust the airflow and thus the temperature for the burners and the oven. After some experimentation, I can say I feel comfortable with quickly starting a fire and making a meal, and I've even done some canning on it. We've attempted baking a few times now, and we're learning the subtleties of temperature control with fire. The last batch of zucchini chocolate chip cookies came out great (see recipe below for what has become my favorite cookie recipe these days)! Cooking with wood is certainly an art form...challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, truly amazing. Speaking of getting the hang of it, we visit the chickens every day, and have been finding about a few eggs a day. We just assumed that only a few had started laying and the rest would soon follow. Imagine our surprise when we peered underneath the chicken coup and discovered a pile of not three, not ten, not even a dozen...but 50 eggs! They had dug out a little hole underneath and were each laying their eggs there and taking turns sitting on them. We were thrilled, but I was worried that their eggs might not be good anymore since we didn't know how long they'd been sitting there. I used the egg test and discovered they were all still good! The egg test, if you've never heard of it, is a convenient way to judge the age of a fresh egg. All you do is gently drop the egg into a bowl of water and watch what happens to it. If it sinks and stays on the bottom it is less than a week old. If it sinks and stands up diagonally it is around 1 week old. If it sinks and stands up on end it is about 2 weeks old. Any egg that floats is most likely rotten. Luckily we have great neighbors who love eggs or I'm not sure what we would have done with that many eggs at once! They are beautiful eggs in various shades of brown, green and white so far. We are very proud of our girls, and we've decided to get them a rooster (we didn't end up with one in our order) since they show such good brooding instinct. That is something that can be hard to find in many chickens sold today because the "super layers" have had their brooding (or mothering) instinct bred out of them. Other than collecting eggs we've been busy with harvesting vegetables and herbs from the garden, preparing medicines, fortifying the chicken coop for winter, getting in some fall gardening and watching the leaves change colors. I for one am looking forward to fall (my favorite season) and to the slowing down and resting time that the season brings.
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Combine in a large bowl: 1 egg, beaten 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup honey 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Combine in a separate, small bowl: 1 cup unbleached white flower 1 cup whole wheat flower 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg Blend the dry mixture into the liquid mixture, then stir in : 1 cup finely shredded zucchini 12 ounces chocolate chips (I don't normally use quite this much) Drop by the spoonful onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. I would add, try not to eat them all in one sitting.



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