Thor, the overheated rooster…

For those of you reading our blog who don't live in Traverse City, Michigan, I've reprinted this week's Foodie With Family column.  Enjoy!   No chicken recipes here But we sure do love our eggs     Last spring marked our first foray into the area of "keeping" animals. We have had a dog or two, a cat and a few various and sundry fish but that had always been enough.   We decided to follow the example of a few friends and ordered day-old chicks from a reputable hatchery and combined orders with those friends to save on shipping. When we picked up our box of live chicks at the post office our more knowledgeable neighbors sorted the birds and we went home with our little peepers.   This particular hatchery is in the habit of sending a mystery chick along with the others you order and our friends generously told us to keep it. The hatchery does not keep records of the breed or gender of the chicken they send. The "mystery bird" was a great source of excitement around here.   As we watched our chicks grow we all became chicken fanciers. We read up on the different breeds in an attempt to learn what our mystery bird was. All our reading was not without its uses. We realized fairly quickly that our friend had mixed up a couple of the chicks when separating our order. We had ended up with one of their meat birds while they ended up with one of our layer hens. Since they wanted another layer it was agreed that we would simply keep the meat bird and … {Read on...}

And the winner is…

The birthday boys clicked "generate" on our Random.org sequence generator and the winner of our $50 gift card Thanksgiving giveaway is Jen B.!    Congratulations, Jen B.!  We hope this makes your Thanksgiving a little bit more fun.  Happy shopping... … {Read on...}

Oeufs en Cocotte

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Be sure to read all the way through to the bottom.  We're doing another $50 gift card giveaway and the details are after the recipes...   Val and I were discussing food I know, what's new, right? over the phone the other day.  We were talking about some of the requests we had during our last gift certificate giveaway.  Most folks wanted recipes for quick, budget-friendly, family-friendly, gourmet items.  Well, shucks.  Can you say softball?  That's our raison d'etre in the kitchen.  With the economy in a bit of unrest, who doesn't want budget-friendly besides Warren Buffet or the Hiltons?  Inexpensive doesn't need to mean hard to swallow, though.  With a bit of planning you can turn out fabulous meals for a very low price tag.  We did rock, scissors, paper over the phone and I ended up with the first opportunity to share a favorite recipe that fits all of our criteria.    My first thought was Oeufs en Cocotte...   B.C., before children that is, and way back in the day, I was an exchange student in La Belle France for my senior year of high school.  And may God smile gently on those poor folks who generously shared their home with the rebellious punk twit that I was in those years.  They gave me a bed.  They ferried me all over the countryside, proudly showing me many sites of France, Switzerland and Germany.  They made sure I got to and from school daily.  But above all else, they sat me at their table and fed me the most amazing food.  Did I mention that … {Read on...}

Harry Potter Butter Beer

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In today's Record-Eagle column I ran the following recipe for Vanilla Simple Syrup.   Vanilla Simple Syrup   Once you make this you'll find all sorts of reasons to keep it handy. We put about 1 1/2 ounces in the bottom of a tall glass and top it off with cold plain seltzer for a homemade cream soda that beats the pants off of anything you can buy in the store. If you're so inclined, you can pour a wee bit in a glass with some brandy. And for you Harry Potter fans out there ... Tune in to www.foodiewithfamily.com for an amazing and delicious Butter Beer recipe in both grown up and house elf styles.   If you don't have access to a vanilla bean, just add an additional tablespoon of vanilla extract at the end of the recipe.   1 c. fresh water 2 c. granulated sugar 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise but not scraped 2 T. pure vanilla extract Add the sugar to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan with the vanilla bean and pour the water over the top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour syrup, along with the vanilla bean, into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cool completely before use.         ...After submitting the column to the editor, I promptly forgot to post my butter beer recipe here.  Sigh.  You might almost think I was really busy or something.   'Tis the season to be reading and I'm willing to bet … {Read on...}

Mandazi

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When I read Beccy's post yesterday, it immediately triggered a memory from my college years--well, my second round of college years. I had originally gone to college right after high school, but in my sophomore year, it was required that we declare a major, and I had NO idea what I wanted to focus on as my major. So, rather settle for 'whatever,' I left school, and didn't return until I returned to that same college town with my two young children, to work and to finish my degree. That small college town was home to many international students, and over the course of our time there, several of these students came into our home, some to share the living space for a while, some just to visit and share some home cooked meals. Some of them also introduced us to some of their favorite foods from back home, and one of the favorites that we have carried with us is Mandazi, an East African fried dough.  I remember standing with Patrick, a student from Kenya, in my small apartment kitchen as he walked me through the recipe from beginning to end. He and his wife and children, along with me, my children and a few others, happily munched through the evening on this fast and frugal treat from his home. I've made these several times over the years since then, and one of the wonderful things about them is their flexibility--they can be a breakfast bread, a snack, and even as a dinner bread made with less sugar and without the confectioners sugar topping. Since I had not made them … {Read on...}