Month: April 2014

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As any new parent will tell you, there is a steep learning curve when new family members enter the house. This is certainly as true for Alan and me now that we’re caring for young chickens as it was when we brought our baby boy or our rescued kittens home.

We’re still learning, but there are some things that are pretty clear.

Harumi and Kotori love each other beyond all else. They are fond of me because I bring food and because I know just where to scratch their heads.

Both girls enjoy being up high (hey, one thing we’re not sure about is that Harumi is a girl!), and Harumi is better at hopping, flapping, and otherwise getting up than Kotori.

Kotori moves like a ballerina!

Kotori is wonderfully systematic and neat when she eats. She will eat a row of millet with such precision that I imagine the ding of an old fashioned typewriter at the end (I hope someone over the age of 50 is reading this!).

Harumi is a messy eater!

They both enjoy pooping in their water dispenser immediately after I clean it. I clean it about six times a day.

They both enjoy pooping in their food dishes immediately after I clean them. I just picked up more dishes at the thrift store so I can offer a clean dish right away.

They love chickweed, kale, millet, sesame seeds, and oats. They really don’t like bananas or red lentil mash.

I’ll figure out more as we continue to care for them, but I know for certain that caring for them has been one of the greatest honors and pleasures of my life. They are just that perfect!

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Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk

It is cool and cloudy today, so I decided to make something that would warm me and the house up.

This Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk did the trick!

I don’t quite remember where I got the inspiration for this recipe. I’ve been making it for years. It is very easy and very filling. Enjoy!

– Linda Nelson

Ingredients:
two small diced yellow onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil or water
2 cups red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 can coconut milk (I used the light which makes this dal plenty creamy and rich)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Melt the coconut oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and soften, stirring often, for about five minutes. You can substitute water for the oil.

Add the lentils, coconut milk, water, and spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer for about 35 minutes or until the lentils fall apart.

I often add a chopped potato after I’ve softened the garlic, onion, and ginger, and I sometimes add chopped spinach at the very end.

Serve over rice or eat on its own.

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 11

If Harumi and Kotori were “broiler” chickens, they would already be dead. Their legs, breasts, and wings, so clearly defined beneath their immature feathering, would have been dredged, and fried, or broiled, or stewed. They would be sauced and slathered and consumed without a thought to the individuals they belonged to.

They are months away from laying eggs, and though they will eventually lay them, they will never be “layers.” The essence of who they are will not ever be about what I or any other can take from them.

We at Triangle Chance for All aren’t waiting for a return on our investment. We seek to give rather than take, and all we want from Harumi and Kotori is that they be safe and well.

– Linda Nelson

Diary of a Mother Hen – Extra Entry

I was telling my mother about Harumi and Kotori’s separation last night when she said, “You talk as though they have the same feelings as people.” “They do, Mom, they do!” I replied.

I talked about how it is easier for people to kill farmed animals if we pretend that they don’t have the same emotions as our human family members or dogs and cats. It is easier to deny their feelings than own up to the tragedy of killing and using sentient beings.

“And, when they are part of a big flock, you can’t know each one,” my mom added. She went on to tell me about the 25 chicks she had ordered when she was a 10-year-old farm girl. She let me know that they had all seemed the same except a very special rooster who became her pet.

I asked if she had been miserable when my grandpa killed this rooster. “He never did; I wouldn’t let him. He was just like my dog,” was her response.

And so Kotori and Harumi help to shed light where there was not enough.

– Linda Nelson

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 10


I went in for my final check of the girls last night to find Kotori quite upset. She was peeping shrilly and urgently, and as I followed her gaze, I saw Harumi on the highest level of our cats’ tower. Clearly her flying skills are improving!

Harumi was less disturbed than Kotori, but she didn’t protest when I picked her up gently and placed her on the floor next to Kotori. She brought to mind the kitten in my son Ian’s favorite book from toddlerhood whose mother had to constantly remind “don’t go up, if you can’t get down!”

Both girls were clearly relieved to be together again. They spent the next twenty minutes before day turned to night trying to shimmy under each other’s wings. I left them sleeping nestled closely together feeling so glad they have each other.

– Linda Nelson

Classic Banana Bread

bananabread

Banana bread brings back memories of childhood for Rosemary and me. We both remember having slices with butter as kids. Nowadays, banana bread is pretty easy to make vegan, and we found a delicious recipe for marbled banana bread in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest cookbook, Isa Does It.

The entire book looks amazing, but we were in the mood for something sans chocolate (believe it or not, neither of us are big chocolate fans), so I fiddled with Isa’s recipe a little and came up with what serves as a pretty darn good version of your classic banana bread. (I could have also called it “Rosemary’s Favorite Banana Bread EVER,” but “classic” does the job.)

– Justin

Classic Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup well-mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
1/2 cup vegan sugar (add 1/4 cup if you prefer sweeter items)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas with sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and gently mix until well combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 4″ x 8″ loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (It might appear a little sticky, but as long as it is not coated in batter the bread is done.) Let cool on a cooling rack … if you can.

Be sure to try some homemade vegan butter with your bread!

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 9

Most people will never see chickens as anything more than the severed body parts they prefer to eat and the eggs they claim as their own. They can’t know these tiny descendants of dinosaurs as anything more than what they can take from them. I pity their blindness.

Kotori and Harumi have established a comfortable rhythm with us. With their physical needs all carefully attended to, they have the chance to be individuals. This is a chance their sisters, mothers and brothers caught up in the hell of animal agriculture will always be denied.

Kotori is a careful eater. She meticulously and forcefully addresses each morsel of food so there is no waste. Harumi
sweeps in, and food flies!

Kotori doesn’t get distracted by much. If she is eating, she eats; if she is drinking, she drinks, and so on. Harumi flits from eating to snuggling back to eating with a drink thrown in.

Kotori loves to snuggle on my lap though she doesn’t seem to crave it as Harumi does. She is satisfied with a pet to the head in passing while Harumi will interrupt what she is doing to seek my lap and my touch. Kotori has a quiet confidence while Harumi is much quicker to startle.

They are so much more than their body parts. They are so much more than the eggs they will produce. They are so much more than the cost of their care or my limited ability to fathom just who they are.

My mother said to me the other day, “I never thought I’d have a daughter who loves chickens!” and though this was meant to be slightly mocking, it struck me as a very beautiful thing.

Yes, I do love chickens, and I always will.

– Linda Nelson

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 8

I love this photo of Kotori and Harumi looking out at the wide world together, and I assume it represents what their lives will be from now on.

They will be able to feel the breeze on a spring day while hunting in the grass for good things to eat. They will be able to join a flock and take a dust bath before dashing to the next thing that catches their fancy, and each will have her sister by her side.

Kotori and Harumi will be able to stretch their wings as they explore greater horizons. The window is open to a very good life!

– Linda Nelson

Diary of a Mother Hen – Day 7


I woke last night at about 2am startled and concerned. I feared that I had failed to close all of the windows in Kotori and Harumi’s sunroom and that the overnight temperatures would hurt them.

I had no choice but to get up and check on the situation just as I had when our son was small or when we had a new kitty at home. The young are so vulnerable.

I turned on a light in the next room before entering the room where I hoped the chickies were sleeping soundly. They were nestled together in one of their boxes, but they began peeping softly and sweetly as I came closer.

All of the windows were closed and all was well, so I stroked their little heads and wished them a goodnight.

I had no thought of assuring a return on my investment when I left my cozy bed. I’m not safeguarding their health because I’m counting on eating their eggs one day. I’m not looking forward to disease free meat once they are bigger and plumper. I will never take anything from them.

I got out of bed because I love them, and I want to assure I do right by them as any mother should.

– Linda Nelson

Simplified Vegan Butter Recipe

The first time I looked over the recipe for vegan butter at www.veganbaking.net, I was completely intimidated. I set out on the daunting task of reading through the many paragraphs of instructions before realizing that something very simple had been made to look hard.

Now I don’t blame the recipe developer. If I was clever enough to come up with such a superb recipe, I’d want people to know the thought and the skill that went into making it, but all I wanted was a good substitute for butter for baking without resorting to the popular commercial brand made with palm oil.

I realized after my first scary time making this butter that it would be fast, simple, and far, far, far less messy, if I tripled the recipe.

I bake a great deal for vegan outreach and as a means of fundraising so I use each batch of butter up quickly, but even if you bake once a year, this will work for you. This butter freezes beautifully.

Here is my demystification of Mattie’s superb recipe:

Decide what mold you will use for your butter. I use a Tovolo extra large mold since it measures out to six 1/2 cup cubes. This makes it so easy to measure for recipes. I have also used star and heart shaped molds and emptied vegan cream cheese containers.

Ingredients.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 rounded teaspoon salt

1 jar 14 FL. oz. jar refined coconut oil (it is fine to use unrefined though it will have a very coconutty taste)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon liquid soy or sunflower lecithin
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Directions:

Curdle the milk by adding the vinegar and salt, and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Warm the jar of coconut oil in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Please make sure to remove the metal lid first! When it is softened enough to be easily removed from the jar, add it along with the canola oil to a food processor. Process until smooth.

Add the curdled soy milk, the lecithin, and the xanthan gum to the processor, and process for two minutes, scraping down the sides half way through.

When the butter is smooth, pour into your mold, and freeze for a couple of hours. Pop the butter out of the mold, and store in freezer proof bags or closed containers.

Your butter will last for about a week in the refrigerator. It will last for a year in the freezer.

– Linda Nelson