My Thanksgiving Tradition

I love Thanksgiving – I love the traditional meal (the roast turkey, the peas, the potatoes, the stuffing, the pumpkin pie) – and I love having family gathered around a dining room table. But, like for many others, the holiday fantasy doesn’t fit the reality. We don’t have family to fill our dining room. In previous years, I’ve had friends over, but once they married and had kids, their in-laws fought over them, and they couldn’t come here. I’ve made the Thanksgiving feast for just the four of us (me, husband and two boys) and, honestly, they couldn’t care less about the formal meal.

We’ve gone away to inns and been the “orphan” family at friends, but it just didn’t satisfy my craving for a food and family filled house. So, I created my own Thanksgiving tradition – The Sunday after Thanksgiving Pie Party.

When everyone else is done with their family dramas and travels and don’t want to eat another bite of turkey, they come here and eat pie. There’s always room for pie. I love making pie, and for this party I make many, many pies. Everything but pumpkin. This year I made: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Raspberry Framboise Tart, Key Lime Pie with Blueberry Glaze, Lemon Chess Pie with Strawberry Topping, Chocolate Cream Pie with Marscapone Whipped Cream, Brownie Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie, Cherry and Cranberry Peek-a-Boo Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie, Apple and Pear Pie, and Apple Pie with a Nut-Streusel Top.

We ate. We drank coffee. We chatted. We cooed at a baby. We watched the little ones build legos. We chatted. We ate some more. It was the perfect Thanksgiving.

pie party

Technical Difficulties

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been haven’t been up and running here at HenCam (and if you haven’t noticed, then you’ve managed not to become addicted to watching the girls…yet.) We (actually it’s more “my husband” than “we”) go to great lengths to keep HenCam on the Web. There’s a very expensive dedicated line and all sorts of wires and equipment and software. Lately, my husband has been having conversations with people at Verizon (the phone company) and we’ve met several linemen, and he’s chatted with Covad folks out in Colorado. Anyway, not to bore you with it, but do understand that we live on a street that sees frequent phone outages. The repairmen come and shake their heads and say things like, “I’ve never seen a phone line that old,” or, simply, “squirrels.” We think the problem has been resolved and thanks for your patience.

Tyson Foods

I subscribe to a poultry industry e-newsletter that provides a daily list of pertinent worldwide articles. What people who buy a dozen eggs a week, or a broiler a few times a month, don’t realize is how huge, international and powerful this industry is. This newsletter gives a window into that world.

But, despite the incredible volume of poultry products on the global market, it’s organic poultry that is getting a premium price. The other segments of the industry have miniscule profit margins – they make their money by selling on a huge scale. Also, it’s hard to develop brand recognition in the supermarket. Chickens and eggs really do look alike. So, the big producers want a part of that organic pie – they want high profits and high volume and they think the key to that is to tap into the organic market.

Tyson Foods wants to be able to charge more for their chickens. So, they went to the USDA and got a label approved for a chicken raised without antibiotics. They’ve spent tens of millions of dollars promoting their new line. They’ve got big plans for introducing prepared foods using it.

Then, someone at the USDA blew the whistle. Tyson uses an “antimicrobial” feed additive. They say it’s not an “antibiotic.” Tyson thinks the issue will be resolved soon and they can go on making the American housewife feel that she is a hero to her family for buying such a pure, clean food. (I’m paraphrasing – but that’s what the Tyson ads are touting.)

The American public hasn’t gotten wind of this yet. But, when they do, once again, the consumer will become wary and jaded. They won’t believe anyone’s claims. Which will leave the small producer who is truly raising a good product, yet again having to convince the public that their poultry and eggs really are different. The consumer needs to do more than pick up a package because it says “no anitibiotics” or even “organic,” but that’s too much work for most harried customers. The PR job will be left to each small farmer, and that’s a hard job (when farming is hard and time-consuming enough!)

To read the full text of the article go here. Scroll down until you find the Tyson Told it Can’t Use Raised Without Antibiotics Label.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey (that is, my American HenBlog readers who celebrate this national eating fest.) And for those of you with poultry in your backyards, especially the lucky ones who have some big bronze turkeys strutting about, toss them an extra handful of corn for me.

My Thanksgiving celebration involves pie. A lot of pie. More on that in my next blog.

High Style in the Coop

Yes, you can be chic with the chicks (ouch, sorry!!) We all need a pair or two of muck/mud boots. Right now, colorful rubber boots are in. Last weekend, I was in Cambridge, MA (the hometown of Harvard University), which not only believes that it is the hub of the universe, but also the center of hip. One of the trendy shoe shops in the Square had a display of rubber boots right in the window. I’m probably the only buyer of these polka-dot beauties that’s actually going to wear it somewhere other than walking on pavement. My hens, my ever-appreciative audience, think that they look great!

fancy chicken boots

Egg Coddler

I bought this kitchen item at a flea market, and had hopes of making beautiful daisy-like coddled eggs. A coddled egg is simply an egg that is cracked into a mold and set over simmering water. Rather like a hard-cooked egg (or soft-boiled) without the shell.  (Coddled eggs differ than poached, in that the poached are submerged in water.)

But I need help! This coddler was made in England by the Nutbrown Company. Perhaps one of my HenCam viewers in Great Britain is familiar with it? Am I missing a part? Is the hole in the handle there for a purpose – perhaps to suspend the coddler in the water? And how the heck do you grease it so that the egg slips out? I’ve used lots of butter, but it still sticks.

However, even without knowing exactly what I’m doing — isn’t it pretty?

egg coddler