Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

It was only last Sunday that I learnt how to fry chicken blood to serve as a tapa. Before then, I had always given it to the neighbour’s dog – but not any more. Sorry dog.

When you kill the chicken and cut the neck, drain the blood onto a plate with a sprinkling of salt. Once the blood has congealed, sprinkle a bit more salt on top and cut into squares.

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Get 5 or so large cloves of garlic and cut into thick slices, skin and all. Fry gently in a frying pan until golden.

Fried Chicken Blood
Fried Chicken Blood

Gently add the blood squared and fry until they have puffed up. It is important not to fry them for too long or they will taste like rubber.

The blood has completely different taste to what you might expect and tastes more like egg yolk.

Pour the contents of the pan into a shallow bowl and serve with small chunks of bread.

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

The chickens are now 12 weeks’ old and are growing well.

Chickens at 12 weeks

One of the male chickens: he’s developing white-coloured ears like his father

 The males have started to adopt male posturing and one of them has even tried to crow – although the noise that came out was more like a warble.

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

None of the females has laid an egg yet.

About 10 days after the photo was taken we killed two of the males. We are going to have to kill them at some point so thought that now was as good a time as ever. They did not have much meat on them and there is massive difference between these and the chickens we kill for eating at about the same time. Still, we ate one (chicken casserole and chicken soup) and put the other in the freezer for later.

Chick update: chicks are two months old today

young chicks

Chicks after 8 weeks

It was only when I looked at photos of when the chicks had hatched that I realised that they were born exactly 2 months ago today (27th May 2013).

I have now taken the rooster back to the neighbour and the three older chickens keep the young ones in check.

A couple of the young male chickens have already started play-fighting but it’s not serious and they soon get bored.

The total count is 4 females and 5 males so I’m really pleased: the whole point of increasing the flock of laying hens has been achieved.

8-week-old chicks

Chicks at 8 weeks: female on the left, males in the centre and on the right

Because I was going to be getting some more eating chickens we cleaned out and disinfected the greenhouse in preparation. However, the shop won’t be getting eating chickens in until the middle of August.

I’ve closed the door to the greenhouse and yesterday the chicks ventured inside for the first time.

Killing chickens

Killing chickens using a cone

Killing chickens using a cone

Today I had to kill one of the eating chickens. It hadn’t been eating and spent most of its time hiding beneath the feeder which meant that it would be attacked whenever one of the other chickens came for food. I bought the chicks on the 8th May 2013 and when I asked the shopkeeper how old they were at the time, he said 2 or 3 weeks. By my calculation, therefore, they were born on about 24th April 2013

Last year, we killed the chickens when they were 12 weeks old and they were quite big by then. The chicken I killed today was about 8 weeks old. It was pathetically puny but I didn’t want to wait for it to die like last year when we lost two.

Most people recommend killing eating chickens at around 10-12 weeks. Any longer than that and they are really getting too heavy and spend most of their day eating.

I’ve found the best way to slaughter a chicken is to use a chicken cone and a poultry dispatcher (which is a cross between a clamp and a pair of scissors and which I bought from Ascott Dairy Supplies). The cone is mounted on the wall above a table where you can put a bowl to catch the blood. If you want to use the blood, put a pinch of salt in the container to stop it congealing.

The best time is early in the morning when the chickens are calmer and before they have been able to eat or drink too much. Catch the chicken and hold it upside down by its feet. Put them head first into the cone so that the head comes out through the hole. Still holding the feet, clamp the neck with the dispatcher so that you cut off the blood supply to the brain (you may need to use two hands). Wait until the chicken stops moving and then bleed it by cutting its neck – just below its ear on the side, avoiding the throat. Leave the chicken in place until it has stopped bleeding. Cut the bird’s head off completely.

PLUCKING THE BIRD:
The next step is to pluck the chicken. Heat some water in a saucepan which is large enough so that you can completely submerge the bird. The temperature should be about 68-70ºC. Dunk the bird 3 or 4 times and you’ll then find that the feathers come out really easily.

PREPARING AND GUTTING THE BIRD:
1. Cut off the feet
Lay the bird on its back. Using a sharp knife, cut off the feet off by cutting between the joint and through the tendons.

2. Remove and loosen the crop
Unlike mammals whose food goes directly into the stomach, chickens first store their food in the crop which is a sack just above their right breast. From the neck end, using your fingers, find and hook out the crop, pulling it slowly away from the bird. 

3. Remove the oil gland
The oil gland is just above the parson’s nose and looks like a lump of fatty tissue. You will need to cut down into the flesh and then follow the line of the parson’s nose. It is quite small.

4. Open up the back end of the chicken
The idea is to make as small a hole as possible and not cut through any of the intestines. Pinch and lift the skin directly above the parson’s nose and carefully cut round the rectum to detach it from the rest of the body. Insert your fingers into the hole and hook them round the intestines. Pull away carefully to remove all the innards and intestines. Feel inside to check that everything has been removed and then rinse out.

Plucked chicken

Plucked and prepared chicken

Rice pudding made with goats’ milk

Rice pudding with goats' milk

Rice pudding with goats’ milk

INGREDIENTS:
2 litres goats’ milk
1 large cinnamon stick
1 orange, remove peel into strips
4 heaped dessert spoons sugar
300g pudding rice

Gently heat the milk in a saucepan until just below boiling point. Turn down and add the cinnamon and sugar and stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Add the strips of orange peel and sprinkle in the rice. Stir well. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Divide the rice pudding into small bowls and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on each one. Serve with strawberry jam.

Vanilla ice-cream made with goats’ milk

Vanilla ice-cream made with goats' milk

Vanilla ice-cream made with goats’ milk

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups goat milk
2 vanilla pods, split and scraped
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/3 cup sugar

METHOD:
Gently heat the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla pods.

Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour for 2 minutes.

Pour some of the heated milk over the egg mixture, whisking well. Pour in the rest of the milk and then return to the pan.

Continue to heat the mixture for about 10 minutes until it has thickened and it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

You can either use an ice-cream maker or put the mixture in a container in the freezer and whisk well every 30 minutes or so to stop ice crystals forming.

Rearing the chicks

recently hatched chick

28th May 2013: recently hatched chick

 Although one chick hatched on the 20th day of incubation (28th May 2013), by the morning of the 21st day another seven had hatched. One was still chipping through and followed shortly after. 

After hatching, I left the chicks in the incubator to dry out. I then moved them to a box with paper shreddings and some food and water, putting them back in the heated incubator at night.

recenytly hatched chicks

28th May 2013: chicks had hatched during the night

I then transferred them to a larger box with a sprinkling of sawdust on the floor. The feeder was an upturned plastic lid with a smaller glass to stop them walking through the food. I put some water in a flan mould filled with clay baking beans so that they wouldn’t drown in the water.

1st June 2013: chicks are four days old

1st June 2013: chicks are four days old

 For more about the incubation process, see this: incubating the eggs

The Wagtail’s Nest

bird-nest

Wagtail’s Nest: 27th April 2013

We have had a wagtail’s nest  in one of the windows behind the geraniums. It is hard to know what type of wagtail laid the eggs because she always flies away very quickly. There are about 5 eggs in the nest. 

pied wagtail's nest and chicks

Wagtail’s nest: 12th May 2013

The chicks hatched on 11th May 2013 after about 2 weeks. Today when I opened the curtains they were all there waiting with their mouths open.

The most amazing thing about the birds was the colour of their beaks and the size of their big black eyes in relation to the rest of their head.

wagtail nest with chicks

Wagtail’s nest: 21st May 2013

UPDATE:
On 25th May 2013, the bird had flown the nest and there was no sight nor sound of them.