Our hearts are a little bit broken. Most of our chickens have died this year. Our flock lasted ten years, and then over the span of six months, they passed a few at a time, and now only two remain.
The Murray McMurray catalog just arrived, to ease our pain, and encourage us to look beyond our loss. The last time we ordered chickens from Murray McMurray, we got a selection of Cochins , Wyandottes and Orpingtons . Our intention with our flock is that we get farm fresh eggs, manure for the garden, and to rest our eyes on our chickens as they wander around the farm.
The Murray McMurray Catalog
The Murray McMurray catalog is a sight to behold! There are 48 pages of chicken choices! Do we choose according to the color of the egg? Do we choose chickens based on the beauty of the bird? It sounds like we are a vain high school senior thinking about a date for prom. “Is she cute?”
We only order chickens once or twice a decade, as we keep these birds until they pass. Because our order is so infrequent, we must make a careful choice. So a list of wanted traits is made. If you are considering raising organic chickens, other considerations must be made.
Our Chicken Criteria:
- Egg Color. We like variety and want wacky egg colors like green, blue and brown.
- Gotta be Cute! Our chickens roam the farmyard like they are training for a track meet. After we train them to stay home, we like to look out and see our chickens strutting around, enjoying a life that few hens have.
- Has to Withstand the Cold. We keep our chickens until they pass on and they have to be able to live through and roam in the cold winters of Iowa.
- Middle School and High School Seniors. The chickens we purchase are 4 to 22 weeks old. Yes, they are expensive, but we leave often to visit grandchildren, and just as you can leave your high school senior for a weekend with the neighbor checking sporadically on them, you can do the same with your pullet chickens. Baby chicks are just that, babies.
Below is a Chicken Chart based on Our Chicken Criteria. I’ve also included links to each chicken so you can rest your eyes on some good-looking birds! And who knows, you might want to start your own flock!
Chicken Chart based on Our Chicken Criteria
|Chicken||Egg Color||Cute?||Tough?||Middle School||High School|
|Cuckoo Morans||Dark Brown||Yes!||Yes!||Yes||No|
|New Hampshire Red||Brown||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rhode Island Red||Brown||Yes!||Maybe||Yes||Yes|
|Whiting True Green||Green||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Silver Laced Wyandotte||Brown||Yes!||Yes!||Yes||Yes|
We will ponder the list and make some choices soon. Our new chickens will be acclimated with our two surviving chickens.
Rice Raisin Pudding
Since I’m talking about chickens and eggs, you need to try Rice Raisin Pudding. This vintage recipe from the 1940’s is cheap, easy and doesn’t have a lot of sugar. You can eat it hot or cold, for breakfast or as an after-dinner desert. Quite honestly, it makes everyone in the family happy!
This is a brilliant get-your-kids-to-like-it custard/pudding! You will notice I have photos of white rice raisin pudding AND brown rice raisin pudding. Both are tasty! And the methods are the same! Yay for two similar outcomes with different ingredients! And yay for sneaking brown rice into your darling children’s bellies!
Rice Raisin Pudding
Tools You’ll Need:
- Wooden spoon
- Bowl & fork to mix
- 8X8 Pyrex baking dish
- 9X13 Pyrex baking dish
- 2 C whole milk
- 4 T butter
- 1/3 C sugar
- ¼ t salt
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 ½ C cooked rice (white or brown)
- ¾ C seedless raisins-soak in hot water
- ½ t cinnamon
- Nutmeg to taste – I use a sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar instead
Combine scalded milk, butter, sugar and salt in saucepan. Stir until the butter is melted.
Add milk mixture SLOWLY to the eggs, stirring with a fork constantly! Strain if lumps develop.
Stir in rice, raisins and cinnamon.
Pour the mixture in a lightly sprayed 8X8 glass baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. Set this in a 9X13 pan with 1 quart of hot water.
Bake at 325 for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Here are some notes about this process for people who don’t know how to cook. It’s okay. I started out that way too! I will spend more time writing about how to make this pudding than it will take for you to make it.
When you first look at the recipe, you may be daunted by the concept of scalding milk. Don’t be. Scalding milk is easy! Just put the milk in a saucepan and bring it just under boiling. That’s when tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Be sure to stir the milk with a wooden spoon during that process.
While I’m stirring the milk, I melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and dump the butter with the sugar and salt into the scalded milk. Just stir it up and then pour it in a tiny stream into the slightly beaten eggs. Be sure to use a fork constantly to mix the milk mixture into the eggs. Don’t beat the mixture hard with the fork, just mix.
Also, be sure to soak your raisins in hot water. (You can also soak them overnight if you’re a plan-ahead person.) If you skip this step, you might end up with a less than divine outcome…hard raisins. No one likes hard raisins. Ever.
Also, put the rice pudding in an 8X8 glass-baking dish and then insert it in a 9X13 glass baking dish with 1 quart of water to steam the pudding.
Don’t throw out plain leftover rice from the carryout you got today. We all know leftover rice isn’t that great to eat the next day. Use it to make this Rice Raisin Pudding.
We never get carryout because Chinese carryout is 12 miles away, so I make the rice for this pudding in a rice cooker. This way I can go to the bathroom while the rice is cooking and not worry about burning the house down.