Month : January 2011

Main Dishes Recipes

Chicken Marsala

So, the Chicken Piccata was a huge hit!  I thought that I would share with you another equally delicious dish. Again it can be a crowd pleaser with the kids; minus the sauce that is.  I typically serve this with mashed potatoes but pasta works just as well.  Even if you are not a big mushroom fan like my husband, I think that you will still enjoy this.  I know my husband does!


1/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts-pounded flat
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2/3 cup beef broth
3 tablespoon Marsala cooking wine (I like the Holland House brand you can find it in the salad dressing aisle of your local supermarket.)


1.  Salt and pepper the chicken.  In a shallow dish, spread the flour and coat the chicken on both sides.

2.  In a large skillet, over medium heat add the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the chicken and brown both side cooking completely through. 

3.  Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.  To the pan, add the onion, garlic and saute about about 3 minutes.  Next add the mushrooms and cook until they are lightly browned about 3 more minutes.

4.  Next stir in the Marsala, beef stock and remaining butter.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced by 1/3.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Yes, There is a Difference

Over the past couple of months, I have been sharing some eggs with the neighbors and today I had my first sale.  People who see the eggs usually tell me that the eggs are beautiful.  I have to agree.  I also find the eggs’ beauty and uniqueness often bring about questions.

Supermarket eggs to the untrained eye all look the same.  They are sized, cleaned and need to pass various inspection points prior to making it into commercial egg cartons.  I can’t help but think about all those poor chickens confined to cramped cage conditions.  On the other hand, when the carton says “free range” it is not entirely what you would think.   Chickens able to roam free are housed in large warehouses with fans.  Instead of sunshine, green grass and rich soil, their feet will only experience the chill of a cement pad.  I will not even get started about their diet.  Lets just say that the chickens are fed ground up dead chickens.  Cannibalism.  They will never live longer than about 2 years.  If they are not laying eggs, then they are seen as no longer valuable.  They are culled.  I was not aware of all of these facts until I started researching chicken keeping.

Our fresh eggs are different.  As I have said before, despite variations, they all taste the same-fabulous!  People are not used to seeing things as nature presents them.  I thought our eggs should come with some basic information for those new to enjoying eggs that come from happy chickens.   Our happy chickens get fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.  Our chickens roam free on occasion and have plenty of stretching room.  They breathe fresh air and build loving relationships with each other.  They live their full natural lives.  They also eat a predominantly organic diet.

As of today, I am attaching an information sheet to all of the eggs that I both share and sell.  I hope that this proves to people that there truly is a difference.  I hope more people will start to think about their food sources and what they are feeding their families.  I know that I have. 

Here is the information we are sharing with our egg lovers:

We hope you enjoy your eggs. Here are a few facts about your  fresh eggs.

Our chickens are fed a 100% organic diet of chicken feed and scratch. They also enjoy fresh
fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.

Each of your eggs was laid by an individual chicken. Unlike store bought eggs, farm fresh eggs are all unique in size, color and shape. They do however, all taste equally delicious!

We do not wash our eggs, nor should you. The chicken laid an the egg with a protective membrane. This membrane prevents harmful bacteria from entering through the shell and also helps keep your eggs fresh by retaining moisture within the shell. Do not worry about any dried matter on the shell of your egg. The chicken has already taken care of it.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Our First Sale

Today I was at my son’s school helping in the classroom.  One of my friends was there as well.  Together with the group, we helped create a worm composter with the kids.  As we created the composter by adding layers of damp newspaper, soil, egg shells, kitchen scraps, cardboard and worms, we talked about what worms liked to eat.  Interestingly enough, I was quick to point out that they eat almost the same diet as the chickens.  The kids thought that was funny!  Amongst the giggling, I told them worms eat almost everything except for citrus and onions. 

My friend then asked how many eggs we were getting per day.  I replied about 4.  She asked if I would sell her some.  I knew I had an extra dozen in the fridge from this week.  “Sure, my chickens eat an organic diet too!”, I replied.  With that said, she asked the price for a dozen and I told her $4.  I never in a million years would have thought that while building a worm composter, I would have my first sale.  No wait,  I never in a million years would have thought that I would go from being a city girl in Los Angeles to a Cape Cod Mom raising backyard chickens!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

What Are You, Chicken?

Last night we had a blizzard.  I was often woken during the night hearing the hail and sleet hit our skylight.  We had it all; snow, rain, high winds, sleet and hail.  We awoke to a winter wonderland and a snow day for the kids.  I went out today at 7:15am.  I shoveled my way to the coop.  The chickens were very quiet.  For a moment, the crazy thought that they might all be dead danced through my mind.  No, they probably had a rough night too!

With neatly shoveled pathways, I brought their morning fresh water and scratch.  I opened the door to the coop and no one came out.  Usually, they can’t wait.  I tried sweet talking them.  Still, I could see them poking their heads out but they did not want to come out.  I went back to the garage and grabbed some extra scratch.  I purposefully threw some into the run while the chickens observed.  They didn’t move from the coop.  Finally, I went to the end of the coop where there is no plastic tarp.  It was covered in a blanket of snow.  Maybe this is what the chickens feared.  After all, they are snow blind.

I gently brushed off the snow, did some more sweet talking and out Feathers came.  For one of my littlest girls, she sure does love to say good morning.  Usually, I expect the larger breeds or the rooster, Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine or Chocolate to come racing out.  Funny, I think they were too chicken!  After, brave Feathers gave everyone the okay, they all came running out to begin their morning routine.  Today, they were not happy about the snow, nor was I. But I know that they still must be happy overall.   I had a warm egg waiting in the box for me this morning.

Chickens Seasonal Care Stories from Our Nest

Jack Frost Nipping at My Coop

Earlier this week we had some of the coldest temperatures in years.  Two days ago, I awoke to find the thermometer reading 1degree F with a wind chill of -15 degrees F.  I certainly forgot how cold that truly felt.  The warnings on the TV said frostbite could happen in exposures lasting 10 minutes.

I was nervous to see how the girls were fairing in the weather.  I found the water dish in the coop was a frozen block of ice.  Some say the coop remains about 10 degrees warmer inside than outside in the night.  All I know, is that for the first time in a while, the water was frozen through.  The girls ran out into the run as usual.  They did not seem to be affected by the cold.

I then checked for eggs.  Suddenly, I heard an unexpected cracking noise.  Uh oh…what was that?  I put the lid down, revealing the weatherproofing cover I had made for the coop had become brittle and cracked; snapping into shards of little pieces.  I felt defeated.  My heart sunk.  I also knew that I needed to repair this problem before the afternoon.  Predictions said we were going to get snow and rain later in the day.  If I did not make the repair this morning, the flock would get wet.

As quickly as I could, I removed what remained of the old plastic.  My gloved fingers were like ice kabobs.  My nose was frozen and I knew that time was not on my side!  Into the house, I took some new plastic from the garage, what remained of the old original plastic and the screws.  After about 5 minutes, the plastic warmed up enough to regain flexibility.  Warm in the house, I used the old plastic as a template.  In the new plastic, I partially turned the screws into their preset locations.  Then back outside I went with my new cover.

As fast as my fingers could work, I screwed in the plastic.  It is not perfect.  Within 2 minutes of being outside, the new piece began to become very cold and lost most of it’s flexibility.  By the last screw, a corner cracked off when I mistakenly placed my hand there for leverage.  Oh well,  I thought, at least the coop is weatherproof once again.  I had a sharp reminder that I am not is Southern California anymore.  I learned what happens to plastic in the cold!  For now, the job that I did should last until Spring.  I just hope Spring does not take it’s time to arrive as it usually does on Cape Cod.

Main Dishes Recipes

Chicken Piccata

Here is a great easy recipe for you to try this week.  This is Tilly’s Nest’s take on the original classic.  It is great if you have fussy kids.  Just serve them the chicken and pasta without the sauce.  Your entire family can eat the same thing without you feeling like a short order cook.  Enjoy! 


4 boneless chicken breasts–pounded flat
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup Italian Seasoned Bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons or so of olive oil
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley
3 cloves garlic-diced
2 tablespoons of capers


1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium

2.  Whisk the egg and milk together in a bowl. 

3.  Combine the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of flour and parmesan cheese together and spread on a plate

4.  Salt and pepper the chicken breasts.  Dredge them in the egg mixture.  Coat with the breadcrumb mixture and place the pan with the heated olive oil.

5.  Brown the chicken on both sides.  Do not flip it too soon, wait for it to be browned.  After about 5 minutes on each side, check the chicken and make sure it is cooked through.  If so, remove from the pan and set aside.

6.  In the skillet with the remaining oil, add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.

7.  Next add the tablespoon of flour and whisk it into the oil.

8.  Next gently add the chicken stock whisking constantly causing the flour to become well incorporated into the sauce.  Add the white wine, capers and lemon juice.  Reduce heat to a simmer.

9.  Add the chicken back into the simmering sauce.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

10.  Serve over pasta, rice, risotto or mashed potatos.

Don’t forget, you can find all of my featured recipes combined in their very own cookbook.  Click on Tastebook here or the link on the right hand side of the page to see all of my recipes so far.  This helps me keep the recipes organized and easy to find.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Free At Last

Yesterday, I let part of the flock out for a little while to free range.  Those days seem so few and far between during the Winter.  Here they are in action.

Oyster Cracker


Oyster Cracker struts around the yard with a certain grace and attitude.  She commands attention from the flock just with her sheer size.  She is so graceful and dignified.  I think she knows it too.


Outside the run


Here the girls find snacks that my kids most likely dropped on the ground.  It is now fair game outside of the run!  I bet it is some scratch that the kids like to call chicken trail mix.   Chocolate was also incredibly sassy and bragging to all humans and the girls that he was feeling especially good.  I had to pick him up for a while and remind him just who is boss around here.  He was not too happy about that.

Finds in the grass

Sunshine loves to inspect every little details before she pecks.  She is cautious and meticulous with everything that she puts in her mouth.  She is also our noisiest girl.  Often she will do this call that sound like an angry yell.  She seems so upset about something and she want the world to know all about it.


Feathers                                                                                        Chickens in a row

Dainty and so very tiny, feathers is just that most adorable ball of fluff.  She is like a little black snowball flitting around the yard.  She is fast.  She is sweet and often comes to me first when free ranging for a visit.  Sometimes she likes to be picked up but most times she is just coming in to say hi and get a little reassurance.

Fluffy bottoms

One of my favorite things about the chickens are their beautiful fluffy bottoms.  The feathers are so different in this area; downylike.  When bending over eating, they remind me of light and airy clouds.  I love their fluffy bottoms!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Return of Dolly

Dolly our Lavender Silkie went broody on December 22, 2010.  I let her broodiness take it’s course.  Her broody period lasted until January 3, 2011.  She was broody for about 2 weeks.  She has not laid any eggs since she came out of her broody zombie-like state.  My research told me that it takes about 2 weeks for a hen to start laying again after a broody period.  Twenty days later, she laid an egg for the first time since she was broody!

I do have to say that we did miss her beautiful little silkie eggs.  As I cradled it in my hand this morning, it was like a little pearl.  Her eggs have a beautiful creamy sheen to them.  In fact, I know which egg belongs to which chicken based on their unique characteristics.  We missed Dolly’s eggs.  Chocolate missed her too.  She was not interested in any of his antics over this past month.  Slowly, she has returned to us with eggs, personality, and spunk.  Welcome back Dolly, we sure did miss you!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Cold Feet, Dirty Water and Monster Trucks

To say I am frustrated is a huge understatement.  I think that the chickens are also frustrated too.  I am having a dilemma with my waterers.  No matter the height of the waterers, the chickens keep scratching copious amounts of dirt into the water.   If I didn’t know any better, I would think that they are having monster truck shows in the run.  As the chickens drive these mini chicken sized monstrosities over the dust bath craters dirt shoots in the air everywhere. 

When I have been going out around 11am each day, I find a slurry of muddy sludge in the drinking part of the waterers.   It seems as soon as I refresh them, they are again filled with mud scratched up from the run.  The run itself is not wet or muddy.  In fact, it has stayed relatively dry because I have had it covered during the rain and snow.  When I clean the coop, I have been tossing the old shavings and straw into the run area as well.  It is composted rather quickly by the chickens and seems to be a source of busy work for them.  They love to scratch at the shavings and find goodies that were missed in the bedding when it was in the housing.

Today and tomorrow the weather is going to take a dive from the 20s to single digits.  I hope that the chickens are able to stay warm.  So far, without any types of heat in the coop, the chickens remain unfazed by the cold.  I do have to remember that our breeds are listed as “cold hardy”.  I also have to remember that I am a mammal and they are not.  They are birds.  They probably feel things differently.  However with this  weather, the waterers will likely need to be thawed a few times during the day.  I guess thawing the waterers repeatedly is one way to clear the dirt for now.  I am definitely going to have to figure out a solution come Spring.  At least when the snow disappears they will be able to free-range more often, taking their monster truck show on the road.