Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hamptons Chick featured as National Cover Girl.

Our Alaska State Fair-Palmer Division Champion hen, Walburga, is now a cover girl for the national magazine Backyard Poultry.

Walburga exhibits the blue phase of the blue-black-splash Orphingon breed.  Even though she is blue, her chicks can be any combination of the color phases.  The cover photo was taken at the Alaska Hamptons by Dorene M. Lorenz when Walburga was just a pullet, around five months old.

Two additional photos of Walburga were featured in the companion article, "Cook"ing up the Orphintons, a history of this rare breed written by Alaska Hamptons owner Dorene M. Lorenz.

Walburga was bred by Tori Yancy at the Sterling Meadows Hatchery in Sterling Alaska.  Tori's breeding program features rare heritage breed poultry, Walburga's sire is a beautiful blue rooster named Bob who took honors twice at the Alaska State Fair in Ninilchik.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Website Launch

Spring is here, as well as our new website.  Booking now for summer, $300/night with a two night minimum.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Art of Boiling Eggs

For most of my life, making a boiled egg was a haphazard event.  I wasn't sure how long to boil the eggs, how much water to use.  More often than not I ended up with eggs that were rubbery from over cooking, hard to peel, with a green yolk, or a bit on the raw side.

Then I discovered The Farmstead Egg Cookbook by Terry Golson, and all that changed.

I learned the science behind boiling eggs.  That creepy green yolk?  That comes to a reaction of the iron and sulfur in the egg yolks that occurs at high temperatures.

Boiling a fresh egg makes for a nightmare when it comes time to peel it.  As an egg ages, the membrane around the white begins to separate from the shell, allowing for easier peeling - but the flavor also deteriorates, so the best eggs to hard-cook are between one to two weeks old.

To hard-cook eggs:

1.  Place the eggs in a pot and cover with two inches of water.  Bring water to a simmer.  Don't let the water come to a rolling boil.  As soon as the water is simmering, cover the pot and remove from heat.  Set a timer for 12 minutes for small, 16 minutes for large, and 18 minutes for jumbo eggs.

2.  Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water.

3.  When the timer goes off, drain the water out of the pot.  Then shake the pot back and forth so that the eggshells crackle all over.  Immediately immerse the eggs in the ice water.  The water will seep under the shells and loosen them from the whites.

4.  When the eggs are cold to the touch, remove them from the water and peel.  Any tiny pieces of shell stuck to the eggs can be rinsed off under the tap.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to four days for optimum quality.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dani Babaneaux Pecan Pie

2 1/2 c. Pecans, chopped  
30 perfect Pecans for top
1 c. packed Darke Brown Sugar  
1 c. light Corn Syrup
1 stick Unsalted Butter  
2 T. Vanilla
1/2 t. Sea Salt  
4 large lightly beaten Eggs
1 Pie crust, edged with leaves, sides covered with egg wash.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Stir together eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until well combined.  Stir in chopped pecans, and pour mixture into prepared pie crust, spreading evenly . Garnish top with whole pecans.

Place dish on a rimmed banking sheet and bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set and crust is golden brown, about 90 minutes.  Tent with foil if pecans start getting too dark.  Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.  

Dani Babaneaux is a firey redhead I worked with 
on  several New Orleans Projects.
She is the Real Deal.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Moon Lake Apple Blackberry Pie

3 lbs. Granny Smith, Jonagold and Honeycrisp Apples
2.5 c. Fresh Blackberries
1/2 c. Baker's Sugar
2 T. Cornstarch
.5 t. Cinnamon
.25 t. Sea Salt
2 T. Cold unsalted Butter, cut in small pieces
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 T. Water
Cinnamon Sugar for decoration
2 Pie Crusts

Preheat over to 400 degrees with rack in low position. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add peeled, cored, .25" thick apple slices and black berries. Toss to coat. Pour into pie crust. Dop butter pats on top.

Mix yolk with water. Brush over edge of piecrust. Cover fruit with second layer of pie crust, leaving holes for venting. If you are using leaves like I did, cover them with egg wash to make them stick, overlapping them slightly. Brush entire surface of pie with egg wash, but don't allow the wash to pool. Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar. Freeze 30 minutes.

Place on rimmed baking sheet in center of oven. Bake 20 minutes until crust is golden, then lower heat to 350 degrees. Bake 50 minutes, then turn pie. Bake another 50 minute to an hour longer. Transfer to wire rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Service with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cook-ing up the Orpington and Australorp

In 1886, a large, bold, upright chicken stratched its way into being. English enthusiast William Cook wrote in the Fanciers Gazette that he crossbred Black Minorcas with Black Plymouth Rock, then crossed the progeny with clean-legged Langshans to create the Black Orpington. The end result was a table fowl with excellent meat, a prolific winter production of brown eggs, easy to breed and fast to grow.

Cook was born in St. Neots, Huntingdon, England in 1849. He worked as a coachman in Chislehurst, Kent at the age of 14, but the poultry on a neighbor’s farm soon caught his attention. Cook and his wife, Jane, moved to Tower House in Orpington, Kent, and began to breed chickens, two daughters, and three sons.

The business of William Cook and Sons grew to include a London office at Queens Yard, 105 Borough London SE. Cook invested his time in publishing his magazine, Poultry Journal, giving lectures, writing Poultry Keeper's Account Book, making an intensive study of poultry diseases, and selling medicines, food, and fattening powder.

Cook’s birds were introduced into various Dairy shows in England, and won much acclaim. At the 1886 Chrystal Palace Poultry Show, Cook won grand prize for his Black Orpington pullet. By 1888, Orpingtons were given their own classification, and Cook’s bird took home the cup.

1890 was a big year for the Orpingtons. The Cook family moved to Walden's Manor, which they renamed Orpington House, and Cook’s eldest child, Elizabeth Jane, took over the operation. Single Comb Black Orpingtons were first exhibited in America at the Massachusetts Poultry Association Boston Show, and the first consignment of Black Orpingtons were also imported to Australia.

In 1894 Cook created his most popular Orpington, the Buff, which became the symbol of the Orpington Rugby Football Club. The Buff was produced from crossing the Golden Spangled Hamburg with the Buff Cochin and Dark Dorking breeds.

Buff Orpingtons were one of the most popular varieties. Mature Buffs typically start laying at six months, producing large brown egg every two to three days.

1897 saw the introduction of the introduction of the Speckled or Porcelain Orpington, which was named “Jubilee” after the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, who accepted a pen of these birds. The Buff Orpington Club was founded in 1898. The late H M Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was Patron of the Club and showed regularly.

Cook and his children continued breeding Orpingtons to other color variations including Blue, Mottled, Spangled, Red, Partridge, Birchen, Chocolate (Bantam only), Cuckoo, Gold Laced, Lavender, Lemon Cuckoo, and White.

Cook made a large exhibit of Black Orpingtons at the 1895 Madison Square Garden Show in New York, but they were slow to gain popularity.

In 1896, four Blacks were exhibited at New York by C. S. Williams of New Jersey. William McNeil of London, Canada entered one Black cockerel at the Boston show in 1897, and five Blacks were shown in New York, by George M. Shaw in 1898. A careful examination of records shows no other entries at poultry exhibitions in the United States.

New Jersey’s Wallace Willett wrote that in October of 1897 Farm Poultry printed a picture of William Cook and his Black and Buff Orpingtons, along with Editor A. F. Hunter’s account of meeting Cook and touring of his Orpington poultry farm.

Hunter said that Cook's business included the shipment of 10,404 sittings of eggs in nine months. This instantly gave Willett “Orpington fever”, and he immediately took steps to import two sets of Black, Buff and White Orpington eggs from Cook.

Previous to 1898, perhaps a dozen Blacks had come to America. Willett imported the first of Cook’s Buff and White Orpingtons into the United States, but he wasn’t the first New Jersey boy with skin in the Buff Orpington game.

New Jersey’s Charles E. Vass imported Buff Orpingtons from another successful English breeder, and was the first to exhibit them in America at a show in Pennsylvania. Vass made two entries at Boston, and he and his neighbors made seventeen entries when Single Comb Buff Orpingtons were first exhibited at the Madison Square Garden Show in 1899.

There were 43 entries at the New York show in 1900. Willett made his first exhibit at Madison Square Garden, winning two firsts with his two Cook Blacks and nothing with his two Cook Buffs.

In 1901, Vass, Willett, and Doctor Paul Kyle increased their entries to nineteen single and one pen of Buffs. Orpington fever took hold in America. By the 1910 New York Show, 157 Single Comb Buff, 122 Single Comb Black, 134 Single Comb White, 17 Diamond Jubilee, 5 Spangled, 25 Rose Comb Buff, 13 Rose Comb Black, and 5 Rose Comb White Orpingtons were exhibited, for a total of 478 Orpingtons.

Orpingtons have a wide chest, broad back, and a relatively small head, comb, and tail; a combination which creates gentle contours that are attractive to the eye. Soft, profuse feathering, which almost hides the legs of the bird, creates a curvy shape with a short back and U-shaped underline. A heavy bird at eight to ten pounds, its fluffy feathers make it look distinctively large.

In 1902, Cook was honored with an award of the Poultry Club Medal. His thriving business interests included poultry farms from South Africa to America.

A New York Times article that ran on January 10, 1903, covering the New York Poultry, Pigeon and Pet Stock Association Annual Show at Madison Square Garden read:

“William Cook of Kent England, who has been very successful in the matter of prizes, spoke highly of the American judges and the American breed of poultry yesterday. He said that the judges here were vastly superior to those who officiate in the majority of poultry shows in England, and that their awards were in every instance very satisfactory. The Cooks, father and son, had a large number of Orfingtons on exhibition, and they won twenty-three first and seventeen second prizes for birds, and a first prize for eggs. In two classes they were beaten by the birds shown by the Willow Brook Farm, Berlin, Conn., which was awarded first prizes for its single-comb buff Orfington pullet and cock.”

Cook arranged his great string of English Orpingtons in a clever manner at one end of the show’s big arena, and the fulsome press notices of his exhibits in the daily papers launched a real Orpington boom in the United States and Canada.

Willett wrote that “as an advance agent, William Cook was in a class by himself; as a salesman he was a star, the prices realized by him for Orpingtons at that memorable show being exceedingly high. The purchasers were men of wealth, as a rule, who realized that aside from the fancy end, it would be a good business investment as well. A study of the comparative growth in popularity of Orpingtons…will justify the judgment of these shrewd fanciers who bought at that time.”

Orpington fever was running high when William Cook died in 1904. Cook was sick when he returned to England, went for a brief holiday to Skegness, took ill on the day after his arrival, and died from emphysema. He was buried with his wife in Star Lane Cemetery.

Wallace P. Willett became the editor and publisher of "The Orpington." He and Charles Vass, Dr. Paul Kyle, Frank W. Gaylor and William Davis were the early pioneers of the breed in America.

Few believed at the time that Orpingtons would thrive in a commercial climate in the United States. Objections to chicken with black legs and white skin were lodged against Black Orpingtons, and later the white or pink legs and white skin of Buff and White Orpingtons were considered a serious marketing handicap as Americans demanded yellow-skinned and yellow-legged poultry.

Cook’s masterful promoting and advertising for the breed was at work in England, Australia, Africa, and America. He took full advantage of great quantities of free advertising by cleverly writing on poultry topics, and demonstrated his shrewdness as a breeder and dealer as well.

With a blind eye to its defects, and a loud voice shouting its superior qualities, the result of Cook’s efforts was that for a while Orpingtons were the most popular fowl in England, and White Orpingtons were dangerous rivals of the American Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes , Rhode Island Reds, and Leghorns.

In Australia, the Black Orpingtons were bred with the Australian Lanshans. In a 1922-3 Papanui Test, a Orpington hen named Kismit Dot laid 342 eggs in 51 weeks. In 1923, Australorps Farms Ltd. imported the birds back to England. The Poultry Club refused to recognize them as a separate breed, first calling them Austral Orpingtons, and finally Australorps.

Elizabeth Jane Cook married R. Wakeman Clarke, and ran William Cook and Sons until 1933. She exported birds all over the world, and was one of the first to use airlines for shipping fowl.

The Orpington is a highly intelligent and docile bird and is suitable for families with small children. Hens mature at a young age, will set and rear chicks on their own if allowed to do so, and are attentive mothers.

Orpingtons are a cold-hardy breed and thrive well in both confined spaces and as free-range birds. They lay between 110 and 160 light brown eggs year round. Still considered a multi-purpose bird, it is bred for meat and egg production as well as for show purposes.

Orpingtons are listed as “Recovering” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, “Endangered” by the UK’s Rare Breed Survival Trust, and they are at Number Five in the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia’s Poultry Top Ten.