Chickens, Choughs and chickpeas

It’s been an interesting week at Chez Fork. The older chooks have finally started laying again after nearly 6 months rest and our little black hen, having laid eggs for a month has now decided to go broody and get some ‘me’ time in the nesting box.

Earlier in week the chickens got quite a shock when a family of six White-winged Choughs decided to drop in for a breakfast visit. I know from a health perspective that having wild birds in the chook pen isn’t ideal, but when we let the girls into their larger run there isn’t much we can do to keep other birds out. In this case the choughs weren’t accessing the feeder, but were cleaning up some partially wet pellets I’d cleared out of the feeder earlier in the day.

Choughs
The choughs are very relaxed about helping themselves to some chook pellets

We have seen the chickens drive wild birds out of their pen so we found it a bit odd that they seemed quite intimidated by the choughs. I mean there are four chickens and even our smallest chicken is twice as big as a chough.

c&c
The confab at the Chez Fork Corral “What do we do now?”

On the cooking front I’ve been testing out some new recipes developed by the Queensland Country Women’s Association to promote a healthier approach to the afternoon tea table. The recipes they have been promoting include Bean Brownies and Orange Pistachio and Chickpea Cake. As you may gather from the title, the recipes incorporate alternative ingredients, as well as lower quantities of sugar. These two recipes are also gluten-free. I tried the bean brownies first. Although the flavour was good I found the actual brownie quite fragile in the way that most gluten-free baked goods are. As we do not have problems with gluten I plan to re-make this recipe using plain flour.

From the outset the Orange Pistachio and chickpea cake was much more successful. For a start I didn’t waste any time going gluten-free, I just substituted an equal quantity of plain flour for gluten free flour. I also used tangerines rather than oranges, as I had some that my friend had given me.

OPCcake
Dense and moist with great flavour

This cake has proved popular with all who have tried it. It has a moist crumb which is flavoured with the pistachio nuts and citrus. To finish it off I made a drizzle topping using some more of the tangerines. This one is staying in the repetoire.

Finally tonight we had a hearty vegetable soup including lots of greens from our garden.

vegs
Broccoli, broccoli leaves, bok choy flowers and leaves and parsley

Add in some smoked ham hock, courtesy of my partner’s annual pig processing and for additional flavour some of the dried mushrooms we foraged for earlier in autumn.

ham'n veg
Ham hock and veggies ready for the soup

Finally we had an extremely tasty bowl of hot soup.

soup
Soup for dinner!
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Ginger

The love of ginger is strong in my family. My father loved ginger, my sister loves ginger, I love ginger – ooops where was I? All my ginger eating instincts came to the fore when I read David Lebovitz’s updated recipe for Non-fat Ginger Snaps

Non-fat is good but in this case there is a stack of sugar involved so don’t kid yourself that this is a ‘healthy’ recipe. Just go along for the ride and enjoy that ginger-fueled goodness. Did I mention it’s also full of warming spices and as a special added extra, finely chopped crystallized ginger. The mix is really easy to pull together, simple and without fuss.

David’s recipe requires you to chill and then roll individual balls into even more sugar to make seperate biscuits. I did think about it, but luckily I came to my senses. I made this mix into a slice, no chilling, just straight into a lined small slice tray and in the oven for close to 30 minutes. I did take David’s advice and made a lemon icing to go on the top. That was worth the two minutes it took to prepare.

Now in the Australian vernacular this slice could never be described as a Ginger Snap – those rock-hard biscuits of my childhood, reputed to break teeth and the only biscuit in the country that is exempted from the ‘no-dunking’ rule. So David’s Ginger Slice it is from now on. Give it a go.

Ginger slice, yuummmmm!
Ginger slice, yuummmmm!