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November 8, 2014

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Killing a Chicken, Part 2

March 8, 2011

Warning – more gruesome content…

So last time I got as far as the pluck.  Now it’s time for knives.  Sharp ones.

I made the first cut from the neck down to the breast bone.  In here you’ll find the neck bones, the oesophagus, and the crop.  Apparently the crop is where they store their grain and bugs until they feel like digesting them.  The idea of doing the deed first thing in the morning to avoid this being full, but I guess the neck snapping put paid to this.  It wasn’t off or anything, it was just mushy.

IMG_0706 To clean this end, you reach in and pull the crop and oesophagus away from the carcass and gently tease it out.

Then, you cut a hole around her bum and continue this up towards where her belly button might be.

the cat, she was interested. And THEN, you get your lovely wife to stick her hand in there and pull everything out.

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This is very graphic, and 6 minutes long…

Not having done it myself, it’s hard to describe how to do it, but the article we followed seemed to make sense as we went.  Jilly says she just teased it away mostly, and it seemed to work very well.  You’ll note from the picture below that she did a very good job of keeping it all intact.

IMG_0715Note the yellow things – they were the upcoming yokes.  Next time, we’ll totally keep the kidneys and livers as they’re quite tasty and fun to eat, but this being our first we decided not to test our luck.  From this end, we could then finish off the job we started at the neck with getting the lungs, neck and oesophagus out.

End of Part 2.

Killing a chicken, Part 1

February 28, 2011

Warning, gruesome content.  We really did chop the head off a chicken, and photos of same are below.

Our puppy decided to ‘play’ with one of our chickens the other day.  Previously, a few weeks ago, he ‘fetched’ another one of the birds for us.  At the time we didn’t think he’d killed her, just brought the dead carcass to us for inspection, but now we suspect it was him all along.  As we didn’t know the cause of death, we were reluctant to try and eat her.

So fast forward to Saturday… He didn’t bite this one, but it seemed like he picked her up by the neck and shook her around a bit.  This all happened within the 5 mins it took for my wife to pick me up from the train station.  We came home to find this on the back lawn:

unfortunately, she wasn't picking at a worm

At first we thought she was dead, as she wasn’t moving and her head was hanging all over the place.  On closer inspection she was quite alert, moving her wings slightly and blinking at us.  So then we thought that perhaps she was just playing dead.  We put her in a warm soft box and gave her a few hours to sleep it off.

The next morning, she still couldn’t lift her head so we’d figured we had ourselves a paraplegic hen and decided that there was nothing for it except to put her out of her misery.

Luckily, my wonderful mother-in-law bought me a kick arse axe for my birthday last year (not for killing chickens mind, but rather for the pizza oven).

She was quite incapacitated, so it was an easy thing to lay her on the chopping block and do the deed.  Being a good heavy axe, it was very straight forward and she died on the first chop, though it did take another to remove the head completely.

good old axe, nothing beats axe

She did take us quite by surprise though by jumping back to life and running around, sans-head, for about 30 seconds.  We’d kinda forgotten about that old chestnut as she was all injured and figured she wouldn’t be up for it, but the blood stains on my wife’s pyjamas and my shorts tell a different story.

The head:some say she was too beautiful for this world

The stump:

note the drop of blood about to dropAfter it’d run its course and calmed down, I strung her up by her feet and started to pluck.  And yes, that handsome man with hunched shoulders and no shirt is in fact me:  hmmmmm, wtf do I do now?

Predicting this might all happen one day, I had previously found this excellent article covering what to do in this situation.  It (and others) suggests that you may need to scald the bird (dip it briefly into boiling water and then into cold water to stop it cooking) in order to loosen up the feathers to make the plucking easier.

However, I skipped this step as she was still quite warm, and I found that it was easy enough to pull the feathers out when only grabbing a few at a time.  After all the years of seeing this done and hearing about it, I always thought this would be the most difficult part, but it turned out to be quite easy.

One difficult area though is the wings.  They kept getting in the way, so I trimmed the feathers to free up some space.  The problem with this is though that the extra length actually gives you a bit of purchase, which I found out too late.  So after realising my mistake, I decided to just chop the wings off instead of plucking them as there isn’t all that much meat to reward the effort.

Another tricky area was around the vent.  The cliche of animals evacuating themselves at the time of death is a cliche for a reason.  I gave her a good rinse around the rear under the tap before tying to do this area, but even so there was more to be squeezed out.  So next time I might wear gloves.

All told, it probably took about 20 minutes to half an hour to pluck her clean.  Note the absence of wings as I explained earlier.

almost as naked as I was!One thing I found real interesting was how they seem to have feathers in strips.  I always thought that they must just have feathers all over their bodies, but there were distinct patches of clean skin.  You can see what I mean a bit in the photo above just above it’s wing stump.

Another fun fact is how small these birds are when they’re naked.  I would say easily half of their shape and bulk comes from their feathers.

End of part 1.

Steak and Chips

August 18, 2010

Shit hey, it’s been a while.  More has happened to me in the last 3 months than the 26 years leading up to it, so the blog has slipped down to about last on my priorities.  I figure an easy post is probably a good way to ease back into the routine, so here goes…

I was left to my own devices this evening, so I decided to treat myself for dinner.  We roasted a duck last week, and have a nice amount of duck fat left over, so I figured some chippies were in order.

It’s pretty simple really.  First, I sliced and parboiled the potatoes.  15 mins later, I took these out of the steamer, and then slowly fried these in a pan with the duck fat until crispy…

Before:

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During:

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And after:

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Digging out some eye fillet from the freezer, my method was thus:

  • Season steaks both sides with salt, pepper and rosemary (taking notes I hope, Cha Cha Char)
  • Put the heaviest pan I have on the highest heat I can for about 10 mins (until it’s smoking)
  • Throw the steaks on with a tiny amount of oil for about 2 mins each side
  • eat.

Steaks before:

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And the finished result, served with salad (and beer):

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The chips didn’t turn out as crispy as I might have wished, but they were still damn tasty.  So tasty that I have to confess I actually cooked about double the amount shown on the plate, they just didn’t make it that far…  To make them crispier, next time I might try turning up the heat on the oil.

More on okra

May 1, 2010

I wrote this post a few weeks back, excited about my first attempt at cooking my Okra.  It’s been a bit of a success story in the garden, proving very easy to grow (zero maintenance), and quite prolific in its yield.  From 4 or 5 plants (about 1 square metre), it has produced enough to be the main component of at least 5 or 6 decent meals (as well as my lunch today, but more on that in the next post).

This is him when he first germinates:

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And this is him now (3 months later):

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The okra plants are the tall skinny stalks poking right up in the air.  I’m growing these in raised beds, so the height is slightly deceptive, but to give you an idea of how tall these actually are, those beams are above my head (I’m over 6 feet tall).  I have to climb up on the bench seats to harvest them now.  In terms of growing, I gave them plenty of neglect, and they seemed to do fine.  I should point out though that the past 3 months in Brisbane have been quite wet, so they’ve received plenty of water.  Also, my soil is quite sandy, so this might have an impact.

Here’s a close up of the vegetable itself.  Note that mine are quite fat compared to the ones you might see in the stores – not sure if that’s a result of picking them too late, or just a different variety.  Don’t let them get too big though, else they’ll become quite tough and woody.

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The vegetables form where the flowers drop off. Some of my friends have said they almost look like flower pods, ready to open, but I assure you this is what you’re meant to eat.  Here’s what the flowers look like before the pods form (quite nice I think):

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And even though I’ve been harvesting regularly, there’s still plenty more to come…

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When harvesting, its important to note that you should WEAR GLOVES!!!!  I cannot emphasise this enough people.  Okra is quite spiky all over, on both the vegetable and the plant (similar to the spikes on pumpkin vines).  This irritated my skin quite badly when picking, so be careful.

From what I understand, Okra is used in the cuisines of Africa, India, and the southern United States (by way of the slaves no doubt).  It’s an essential ingredient in the famous dish Gumbo, which is a soup whose body is made from the gelatinous texture that you get out of Okra.  Some people think it’s slimey and off-putting, but for me it’s not that bad.  It just gives soups and sauces a bit more body, and provides a slippery mouth feel as you eat.

Flavour wise, it doesn’t have a strong flavour.  But what it does have is something reminiscent of capsicum – it’s very subtle, but definitely there.

I’ll put up a few recipes that we’ve tried using Okra after this so you an see how it’s used.

Pfeiffer’s Winery

April 28, 2010

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The first of our orders was placed, and some tasty wines arrived.  More on our original visit can be found here.  The wines, in the suggested order of drinking:

  • 2 x 2009 Reisling – very smooth, very nice reisling.  It’s probably a good place to start if you aren’t big on this variety as it’s not too acidic.
  • 2 x 2009 ‘Carlyle’ Chardonnay Marsanne
  • 2 x 2009 ‘ Ensemble’ Rose
  • 2 x 2008 Shiraz – We were asked to age this a bit, if we had the willpower.  We did not🙂
  • 1 x 2005 ‘Christopher’s’ VP – Excellent!
  • 1 x NV Classic Topaque
  • 1 x NV Muscat
  • 1 x ‘Seriously Pink’

Which makes a neat dozen.  They didn’t have any of the Gamay unfortunately, but thankfully the rose turned out to be quite nice.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  You can definitely taste the red grapes that go into it.

This ‘Seriously Pink’ thing should be interesting – the label says we should try it in cocktails or in an apertif, so we’ll see.

So yeah, if you’re ever nearby Rutherglen, pop in and visit.

Okra

April 8, 2010

To begin, a collage.

Onion and Garlic:

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Beef:

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Tomatoes:

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Simmer with the toms for about 30 mins.  Up to now, it’s been pretty standard really:

16-dr evil

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  You head into your back yard, and pick some okra:

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And you slice it up:

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Bung it in, and cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve with something – rice was in the original recipe here, but my plate looked a bit Italian (what with all those tomatoes!), and I was watching Italian Food Safari on SBS, so I decided to have it with bread instead.

It was yum.  To go with, I drank a few glasses of Henschke 2008 ‘Cranes’ Eden Valley Chardonnay.  It too was yum.

Note:  Having okra growing in your backyard is optional, but very easy so I highly recommend it.