Soft-Boiled Egg, Anyone?

Shell-less eggs at Farmhouse38.com

Yeah…so that happened.  And apparently, it’s something that does happen.  For anyone who cannot tell, this is an egg without a formed shell; the guts are all intact and held together by the thin membrane that usually lines the inside of the shell.

Shell-less eggs at Farmhouse38.com

This circus-sideshow of an egg was in the bottom of the roost box when I let the ladies out for the day.  I have found one once before: right after Millie first started laying, there was one in the roost box, like it accidentally slipped out while she was sleeping.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  So to whom did this fine specimen belong?  Sure enough, Gertie, Millie, and Eloise all laid a normal egg at their designated squat-spot times throughout the morning.  All signs point to Clementine, as she left no egg in the squat-spot.

Shell-less eggs at Farmhouse38.com

A nice, solid Gertie-style egg up against the abomination of nature.

Shell-less eggs can, apparently, be indicative of a couple of different chicken-situations.  Chronic shell-less eggs can mean that you have a very stressed-out bird, or that there is some repeated environmental stress being inflicted upon her (extreme heat, cold, house-music being piped into the surround-sound in the coop).  It can also mean your bird needs a little more calcium in her diet; a deficiency that is pretty easy to fix with oyster-shell supplementation.  But an occasional rubber egg is, I guess, not something to be too concerned about.  I’ll have to keep an eye on her and make sure this doesn’t become a habit, but I think Clem is just getting her egg-mojo going.  She’s allowed a bum egg or two.

But maybe I am jumping to conclusions.  Maybe Clementine is being falsely-accused of the rubber-egg incident.

Shell-less eggs at Farmhouse38.com

Shell-less eggs at Farmhouse38.com

Yep. That’s a guilty face, if I ever saw one.

Garage to Studio, Phase III

My apple butter bribery worked….the Texan and I got back to business on my art studio this weekend.  It’s a big moment….the front of the garage is the part we see from the house and the view has been a bit too deep-woods distillery for my tastes (if it was actually a distillery you know my feelings would be different).

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Front of garage before.

In addition to pure aesthetics, we needed a strong dose of function.  Those old barn doors (though lovely with their eons of peeling, different colored paint) were so gap-toothed that full-sized tumbleweeds could blow in through them (in addition to a lot of dirt and dust).  Additionally, we had a frightening wind storm last winter that actually ripped one in half, and, as a quick fix, we screwed support boards to the inside that rendered one whole set of doors inoperable. In a nutshell, those doors needed to go (though I am keeping all that glorious chippy, painted old wood for other projects).  In order to use this space as an art studio, I need to be able to shut the dirt and debris from the outside world out, and shut the mess I make in.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Oh man….those hinges: a study in every kind of bad bolt and flathead screw known throughout history. All painted into place.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

The Texan removes each bolt by hand and loses quite a bit of knuckle in the process.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

The Texan, mid-curse, as he deals with the dreaded flathead screws.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

After he frees one side of one hinge (of ten), we get a close-up view of the layers of paint. Am I the only one who thinks this is pretty? The Texan doesn’t.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

WHY!? Why do these exist?!!

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

This project is flushing a lot of these out to play.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Finally! One door is off….but the hinges defy logic.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Millie does quality-control on the trim for the new doors.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

At the end of the day, the doors are off…but the hinges are still taunting the Texan.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

The white dog weighs in on the hinge. She decides we’d better bust out the reciprocating saw.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Millie manages the job site.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Routing out plywood for the new doors.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

The router is my new obsession in life.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

I am starting to regret allowing chickens in the construction zone.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Millie rocks the catwalk. Then she and the rest of her cohorts get banished to the back garden. I don’t need chicken**** on my freshly-painted doors, thank you.

The good news is that, since Phase IV is the interior of the studio, I’m not going to wait until after that to reveal the outside of the garage/studio.  The bad news is that Phase III took a lot longer than we anticipated, and it still isn’t ready for the big reveal either.  :-(  I know I am really dragging this out (not intentionally!).  So for now, how about a glimpse at the ‘after’ of the doors to tide us all over.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

New weather-proof (hopefully), easy to operate, snazzy-looking carriage doors on my soon-to-be art studio.

What paint color is that, you ask?  It’s called ‘blood, sweat, tears and four-letter words’.  Exterior semi-gloss.

Candied Bacon, Apple Butter, and Gruyére Grilled Cheese

Candied Bacon, Apple Butter, and Gruyére grilled cheese from Farmhouse38.comYep.  It’s what’s for lunch today.  Because it’s totally normal to have some gruyére, homemade apple butter, and bacon sitting around just begging to be mashed together and melted.

If you’ve been following the blog for any length of time, you might have picked up on the alarming fascination I have with my kitchen torch.  I really like to brulée things.  A lot.  So anytime I can whip that fun little weapon out, I do.  Enter candied bacon into this recipe.  Cook your bacon as you normally prefer to (in small batches I do it in a pan, in larger batches, I do it in the oven), and maybe even leave it a little more under-done than you prefer it.  The brulée-ing cooks it a bit more.  When it’s done, spread it out on a piece of tinfoil, spoon granulated or baking sugar (I prefer baking sugar) liberally over the top of it, crank up the torch and caramelize those puppies!  Once they are good and golden brown and shmelty, let them cool, flip them over and do the same thing to the back side.  By the by, an awesome side-effect of the brulée torch is that no one seems inclined to bother me while I am using it.  Funny, that.

To build this sandwich:  smear the insides of your bread with a thin layer of sweet apple butter, then layer your gruyére and candied bacon however many layers high you feel like daring (today, I was feeling like only one layer of glutton).  Smear both the top and bottom sides of your sandwich with butter (I used french butter because I am pathologically obsessed with it), and grill it as you see fit.  My grill method is a bit high-maintenance, but I am going to share it anyway.  On a grill pan over medium-high heat, I grill both sides of the sandwich just until there are those lovely brown grill marks.  Then I pop the sandwich onto a pan and stick it in a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes or until that cheese gets good and gooey.  Crack a little sea salt over the top of that thing, and then put it in your face.  Immediately.

So good.  I do have a mild case of eater’s remorse right now, though, but….I’ll get over it.

Garage to Studio, Phase II

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.comIn true Labor Day style, we got back to business on the garage this weekend.  Phase II (of four phases) is focused around the west wall of the garage, which began as a modge-podge of poorly-fitted corrugated sheet metal tacked up around an off-centered, non-functioning, 100-year-old window.  Don’t get me wrong–I actually loved that window (and was devastated when, a week after closing escrow, the guys we hired to clear the jungle that was our yard shattered the bottom pane out), but for my new studio’s sake, we needed more windows, and the current one wasn’t going to cut it (especially with the chicken wire we put over the bottom of it to ‘replace’ the missing glass).

First things, first….that window had to come out:

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

The Texan strategizes.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Fingers crossed that the top portion of glass survives removal!

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Huzzah! The window survives….and joins my ever-growing pile of re-usable s-crap.

With the window gone, it was time to get at that metal siding.Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.comGarage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

A lovely view.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

We were sad to see this panel go….Racing bike-MEOW, indeed. I know it will shock everyone, but we did not write this.

Whilst the Texan swung away with a mallet at those panels (and disturbed the peace for miles around), I was busy helping like this:

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Oh, look! Pretty flowers!

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

And look at these pretty flowers!

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

So many pretty flowers….

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Chance was helping, too.

After getting yelled at for my lack of focus (Chance didn’t get yelled at), I was assigned to a very important task: rusty nail collection.  As they popped out like bullets, I had to duck and cover, then scrounge for them in the bushes.  I’m important, you know.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

My growing collection of rusty nails.

Finally, after A LOT of noise (there is nothing quite as beautiful as the siren song of a mallet on metal to win the good graces of our neighbors), the west wall was a nice little breezeway….

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Anyone else feel a little uncertain about the integrity of this structure? Just me? Allrighty, then.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Afternoon shadows on the garage floor.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

White dog inspects the missing wall.

The next step was, of course, to reinforce the existing studs, and frame out for the new windows.  Unfortunately, once again, this is where I leave off in order to not give away the end result.  I’m all about suspense.

Garage renovation at Farmhouse38.com

Oh, look! Pretty flowers!