Tag Archives: food

Chickens are smarter than you think. A reblogged article from Treehugger.com

I just had to share this article from Treehugger.com this is one of the reasons I refuse to eat chicken or eggs not from my own birds.  

“Chickens out-perform toddlers in math tests

The most recent outbreak of salmonella has got people talking a lot about poultry. With chicken still being shipped out of Foster Farms, the contaminated factory in California, and put onto supermarket shelves, it’s clearer than ever that consumers need to take responsibility for the quality and safety of the meat they consume (if they choose to eat meat at all). The industry only cares about itself. As Mark Bittman wrote last week in the New York Times, ‘This is not a shutdown issue, but a “We care more about industry than we do about consumers” issue.’

The reasons to buy high quality, ethically raised chicken go beyond the risk of salmonella. In an article titled “Are Chicks Brighter Than Babies?” Nicholas Kristof challenges the inhumane way in which most poultry is raised. Perhaps it’s harder to feel sympathy for a clucking, pecking hen than it is for a brown-eyed calf, but chickens and geese are truly fascinating creatures. While reading the following list, you’d think I’m talking about monkeys, not hens and geese.

 

  • Geese mate for life, share family duties, and even try to comfort each other when approaching the chopping block.
  • Hens can count at least to six. Even chicks can do basic arithmetic, so if you shuffle five items in a game, they mentally keep track of additions and subtractions and choose the area with the higher number of items. They do better than toddlers in these tests.
  • Hens can delay gratification. Researchers gave hens the choice of two keys, one that waited two seconds and gave the hen 3 seconds of food, and the other that waited six seconds but offered 22 seconds of food. Soon 93 percent of hens opted for the longer delay with more food.
  • Hens can multitask, using one eye to forage for food and the other looking out for predators.
  • Hens are social animals and recover more quickly from stress when in the company of others.
  • Hens have a “Machiavellian tendency” to adjust what they’re saying according to who’s listening. They can share precise information about the location of food and presence of predators using specific sounds and calls.
  • Hens have an intriguing ability to understand that an object, when taken away and hidden, continues to exist.
  • Hens can also recognize a whole object even when it is partly hidden. It was thought only humans could do this.

 

I’m not tackling the basic question of whether or not to eat meat, but I’m sure we can all agree that animals should not be hurt unnecessarily. These are not “birdbrains” that we’re dealing with, but intelligent creatures who do not deserve to spend their lives “jammed into tiny cages in stinking, fetid barns.” If our consumer habits are creating horrible environments for animals in captivity, then those habits need to change.”

© Katherine Martinko

Image

My old chickens enjoying a treat of Saskatoon berries.

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Butternut squash mac ‘n cheese – two very different recipes!

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I LOVE Macaroni and Cheese, honestly who doesn’t.. So when I heard there exists a recipe for Mac n Cheese with half the calories and the goodness of butternut squash I had to try it out! The first attempt at Butternut Mac and Cheese was okay… Sure in all appearances it was mac and cheese but in flavor it was squash. Also the recipe used a lot of nutritional yeast, 3 Tbs, and having not cooked with it before I was a little weirded out by the yeasty flavor.  I got the recipe off my favorite vegan blog and I’m posting it HERE just in case you would like to try it out. All in all it tasted very good. I liked the chunks of squash and I looked forward to my lunch when I brought it to work with me but it was not macaroni and cheese. I was still left with a craving for creamy cheesy noodles.

Two weeks later I ordered another butternut squash in my organic box and decided to try again. My boyfriend begged me to make the real stuff but I was determined to deliver a passable butternut squash mac and cheese. A girl at work had told me she had a recipe she liked which used milk, yogurt and cheese (1/2 the normal amount) definitely not vegan lol. A quick search on the internet and I found a recipe, which of course I tweaked since I can’t seem to ever leave a recipe alone. This one I’ll definitely be making again!

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese

Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny:
  • 1/2 cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 a onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 box (500g) uncooked elbow noodles
  • 1/2 a package soda crackers
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions. I used brown rice noodles and they turned out great.
  3. In a medium saucepan (or saute pan, if you’re lucky like me and finally have a full cookware set!) saute the butternut squash until tender, about 10 mins. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few more mins until browned.
  4. Add bouillon cube, milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. Pour mixture into blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Mix sauce with the cooked noodles and half of the cheddar cheese, season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Spread into 13 x 9″ casserole dish and top with crumbled crackers and the other half of the cheese.
  6. Cook for 20-25 mins on top rack.

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Enjoy your healthy mac and cheese! We did!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Frosting and our Organic Box

Our cat Nuri is also smitten with fall, her first ever =)

So I seem to be completely smitten with fall! I don’t what it is.. Maybe it’s the crisp country air or the abundance of leaves blowing around our yard that rustle underfoot. Maybe it’s that distinct smell that only lasts until the first snowfall or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never really taken the time to notice these things before.. but whatever it is fall seems so magical this year!

Even though it was just Thanksgiving not long ago and we had just finished up the last of our homemade pumpkin pie I decided more pumpkin was in order! And I put in an order for another sweet cooking pumpkin from our Organic Box:

A perfect cooking pumpkin, not too big, not too small.

Which is what led to these pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese icing! I adapted the recipe from The Baker Chick’s Triple Pumpkin Cupcakes to use my fresh pumpkin and voila:

Pumpkin Cupcakes

So I’m not the best cake decorator.. But these little guys are delicious and I can’t wait for my boyfriend to get home so he can try them, and hopefully eat all of them before I can.. Best tip for cooking with a fresh pumpkin is to bake the pumpkin first!! Don’t even try peeling, chopping, scrapping anything before you cook that baby in the oven at 375 F for at least an hour. The stem will become wiggly and that’s when you know it’s fully cooked. I had to add some extra flour to compensate for not using the thick canned pumpkin but I think they still turned out great!
Along with sharing this great pumpkin recipe I’d also like to encourage everyone to see if their local community has a program such as The Organic Box that I mentioned earlier! Signing up for our weekly delivery of organic produce has made such a difference in my grocery shopping habits and taken so much stress out of trying to choose the best products from the grocery store. They do all the research for me, coordinate with local farmers, and ensure that anything not locally grown is certified organic and fair-trade. They also let me choose what I want in my box each week so I can plan our meals ahead of time and keep me trying new fruits and veggies that I would not normally try from the grocery store (kuri squash, sunchoke and rapini to name a few).

And if I’m feeling really lazy and not wanting to go to the grocery store at all they also carry milk, eggs, cheese, bread, sauces, spices, grains for cooking and cereals for breakfast and even a whole section dedicated to chocolate.. It’s kind of unreal the amount of stuff they have. Some weeks you may not be able to get everything you ordered due to the nature of organic farming but they always either substitute you something else or give you credit back on your account. It’s a pretty great deal. Plus all the sauces, mixes, and extras are made locally so you’re supporting other local businesses as well! I feel like I sound like a paid supporter/advertiser for the organic box.. I swear I’m not! It’s just really that great!

Our Organic Box

We get one singles box delivered every wednesday and it’s more than enough veggies and fruit for the week!

In the summer we like to go to the Farmers Market for fresh produce as well but that shuts down in the fall. I also like that the organic box I buy allows for transitional products as well. That is, produce from farms that are transitioning to organic methods. Did you know it takes 3 years using organic methods for full certification? It’s to ensure that all the pesticides and residues are removed from the soil but I like the idea of supporting these farmers during the transition period.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Frosting

**makes 28-30 cupcakes***

  • 2 cups all-purpose enriched flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • One med size cooking pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk

Pumpkin Frosting:

  • 1/2 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Cook pumpkin for at least an hour or until soft. Let cool for 1/2 hour. Gently peel off skin (a spoon works great for this!) and then slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Save seeds to roast later for a delicious snack.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl beat the pumpkin flesh (save 1/4 C for icing), brown sugar and eggs at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Beat in the oil and milk. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture, adding more flour if needed until you get the right cupcake batter consistency.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan- filling each tin 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a rack for a few minutes and then pop them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add the 1/4 C cooked pumpkin and mix until well mixed.
  3. Add the powdered sugar gradually until fluffy. Mix in spices. (add more powdered sugar if needed for thickness.) Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.

**recipe adapted from TheBakerChick

~EcoCouple