Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Oh goodness me oh my. First, before I forget – and yes, I know this blog is all about chickens lately, but surely that won’t last forever – I recently spent some time bugging some other chicken bloggers about what they feed their girls because I was really unhappy with the long and unpronounceable list of ingredients on our bag of chicken feed from the feed store. Turns out that a lot of folks have this same problem but no easy answers surfaced, so next I did a bunch of research about what making my own chicken feed would entail. The best thing I read on this can be found here, and as you can see feeding chickens, at least according to this guy, requires some ingredients that might not immediately spring to mind. And some of them require grinding. And some of them you would probably have to mail order. And, and, and… But to make a long story, er, not quite as long, I ended up on the phone with a local guy who keeps 300 organic chickens, and he bulk buys ready to go organic feed. Jackpot! Yes, it’s more expensive than the other feed, but honestly the other feed was eerily cheap. The girls are foraging and we keep them in a steady supply of greens and scraps and such, so hopefully this will make the feed stretch some. Compared to grinding my own feed and ordering micronutrients, I am happy to go this route. So all to say: if anyone else out there is looking for ways to feed your chickens organically, talk to the people who do so on a big scale. My guy brings it to the farmer’s market and I pick up there.

In other really exciting news, we have been experiencing some serious lunch fatigue around here. Meeting B. had a major impact on my eating of the first two meals of the day. My entire adult life I have been terrible about eating breakfast and lunch. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at the clock and realized that it’s 3:30 and I have eaten nothing but a handful of rice cakes or something. True story. I would like to think that this means I will be very uncomplaining if food ever grows scarce, but I know better. Anyway. Now I eat breakfast every morning and I almost always have a packed lunch. Unless it’s leftovers from dinner, lunch is probably a sandwich made by B. How awesome is that? Anyway, we are really tired of the sandwiches we used to be really excited about. Think here of variations of turkey and ham with avocados and fresh garden greens and exciting cheese. Don’t forget the fresh ground pepper. I mean, our sandwiches are awesome. We’re just sick of them. So this weekend, I did the unthinkable: I made hummus.

Other than a slight hippie association (sorry hippies!) I mostly avoid it because I’ve just had so much bad hummus in my life at so many potlucks and picnics and whatever that I don’t touch the stuff unless I am in a Mediterranean restaurant. You know it tastes different there. All creamy and fluffy and shimmering with its glug of olive oil on top. Not at all like the deli case paste. But sandwich fatigue combined with the delivery of the new Cook’s Illustrated issue in the mailbox featuring, you guessed it: hummus, was enough to make me give it a try. Plus, I have been itching to use my pressure cooker that my mother gave me years ago (both because dried beans are cheaper and because of this article). It’s vintage and beautiful and I have kind of lived in terror of it, what with certain people in my family blowing chickens through the ceiling and such. Ahem. Anyway, my Granny and my mom talked me through it and it went swimmingly. My beans were beautifully cooked through, it took less than an hour (not including soaking time), and the gentle hissing noise of the pressure cooker was a lovely nostalgic trip for me, as my mum used hers constantly when I was growing up. And the ceiling is fine. Anyhoo, whether you bust out the can opener or brave your version of cooking dried beans, I am here to tell you that this hummus recipe is amazing. It’s all about the texture; I think you could fine tune the ingredients in whatever direction you want to and it would still rock. The secret is in the emulsification action, according to the Cook’s Illustrated geeks.

Hummus Wrap with three kinds of lettuces, strips of fresh peas, red pepper, and avocado.

Super Fluffy Creamy Hummus
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water (cooking water if you’ve used cooked dried beans)
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dried chickpeas, cooked however you do it (or 1 14oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin or to taste
cayenne to taste

Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl.

Whisk together tahini and olive oil.

Put drained chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne in the food processor and pulse until blended.

Scrape down sides, and slowly, slowly pout in the lemon juice and water mixture while the processor is running; just like a drizzle.

Scrape down sides, then repeat with the tahini and oil, drizzle, drizzle.

Season to taste. If you can help yourself, it really does taste better after sitting for at least a half an hour. I also think it’s way better at room temperature. Note that my version has less tahini and more garlic than the CI version. Tinker as you will!

Hey, and what do you eat for lunch? Something sandwich-y is good for us, because B. can’t heat things up where he is. Other spready things would be very exciting, lay ‘em on me.


dig this chick said...

So true about hummus and potlucks! Anyone who wants to bring pasty hummus and dry pita or chips and salsa (seriously!), don't bother.

Great news for your chicks! Turns out that my local co op will carry local organic feed starting this Saturday. It is made in Helena (about 150 miles away from Missoula) so I am psyched.

queenbeehoney said...

Yes, I totally understand the "sick of cool sandwiches" headspace. Since we opened the store I have been packing away like I did with you kids for years (until I figured out that you were throwing them in the garbage at school). I actually was thinking of making humus several weeks ago because it was the only thing I could think of that I hadn't put into a sandwich yet. I assume you guys have also beat the egg salad thing to death.(That one lasted quite a while with lots of pickle, celery, and onion going on.) Anyway, I intend to make humus now that I have read your blog. Final note: when we went to my yoga instructor's wedding potluck, there were at least fifteen separate entries featuring humus, chips and salsa. Ack!

Alan said...

hey chicken girl,

Sorry I missed out on the chicken feed discussion! Life seems to have gotten in the way of blogs and blogging. (My family would say this is a good thing!)

We feed our hens cracked corn, whole oats, kelp meal, and a small ration of organic layer mash. They are on pasture all the time, and they also get all the kitchen scraps from our house and from my mother-in-law. They love scraps!!! We only feed about a third of the recommended ration except in the dead of winter when they cant get anything from the pasture. They follow our goats and cows in the pasture and get lot from what is left in the paddock. They are way more adaptable than the books make them seem. More freedom will give you healthier, happier birds.

themanicgardener said...

Yeah, the real question isn't What's for dinner, it's What's for lunch? I do pasta salads for lunch sometimes, with chicken or salmon in them. (Chicken, celery, and mango or peach or nectarine and mint is great.) Just junk the sandwiches altogether, instead of trying to rejuvenate them. Or tabouli with a chunk of salomi or cheese (or both) on the side.

Glad you found a feed for the chickens.

I laughed at "surely that won't last forever"--the puzzelment over one's own actions. So true. I love your writing.

Oh--and, the first person to comment on this one lives here in Montana! Must make tracks for that blog--

Blog on--

cake said...

i had to laugh when i read your take on hummus. i feel the same way about it, and i know it is because of the store bought crap that is brought to potlucks. i've heard myself saying "i hate hummus, and pita bread too." this is almost sacrilegious, for a vegetarian. of course this isn't even true. i enjoy my own homemade hummus, and freshly baked, warm pita is to die for.

i can't wait to try your recipe.