gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Close encounters of the feathered kind

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It’s been a lovely Easter. The weather has been perfect with leaves and blossoms bursting out by the hour. On Easter Monday we took a walk around Hillsborough Lake, a local beauty spot, known for it’s pretty forest and plentiful wild birds. Being the holidays families were there to feed the ducks, geese and swans as I remember doing there as a small child.
Naughty Lucas certainly enjoying finding any crumbs the birds left behind, and was very interested in checking out the majestic mute swans, of which there are many. When one swam by to give him a closer inspection however it was a different matter, he turned tail and ran away.
You’ve probably never eaten swan. Neither have I. Did you know that in the UK only the Queen is entitled to have swan for dinner? A quick google of swan recipes comes up with very little to tempt the modern palate however, describing the taste as moist, wet and muddy.
At godecookery.com there is a recipe should you happen to be in royal company and have nothing but swan in the fridge.
PERIOD: England, 14th century | SOURCE: Utilis Coquinario | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Roasted swan with Chaudon

ORIGINAL RECEIPT:

11. For to dihyte a swan. Tak & vndo hym & wasch hym, & do on a spite & enarme hym fayre & roste hym wel; & dysmembre hym on þe beste manere & mak a fayre chyne, & þe sauce þerto schal be mad in þis manere, & it is clept:

12. Chaudon. Tak þe issu of þe swan & wasch it wel, & scoure þe guttes wel with salt, & seth þe issu al togedere til it be ynow, & þan tak it vp and wasch it wel & hew it smal, & tak bred & poudere of gyngere & of galyngale & grynde togedere & tempere it with þe broth, & coloure it with þe blood. And when it is ysothe & ygrounde & streyned, salte it, & boyle it wel togydere in a postnet & sesen it with a litel vynegre.

– Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

GODE COOKERY TRANSLATION:

For to prepare a swan. Take & undo him & wash him, & do on a spit & lard him fair & roast him well; & dismember him on the best manner & make a fair carving, & the sauce thereto shall be made in this manner, & it is called:

Chaudon. Take the issue of the swan & wash it well, & scour the guts well with salt, & boil the issue all together til it be enough, & then take it up and wash it well & hew it small, & take bread & powder of ginger & of galingale & grind together & temper it with the broth, & color it with the blood. And when it is boiled & ground & strained, salt it, & boil it well together in a small pot & season it with a little vinegar.

Enjoy!

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Unwrapping the Chocolate Egg

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It never fails to make me smile that as shops are taking down the tinsel and packing away unsold crackers the day after Christmas, they are unpacking chocolate Easter Eggs. Apart from the store’s commercial reasons why are we in such a hurry to get that baby to the Cross? And what is the link with chocolate eggs?
For the Christian Easter is a celebration of Christ’s rising, but this holiday has pagan origins. The coloured eggs, cute little bunnies, baby chicks, leg of lamb dinners, and lilies are all symbols of rebirth and the lamb was a traditional religious sacrifice.
Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.
The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for a long time. A notation in the household accounts of King Edward I showed an expenditure of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts. The first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written five hundred years ago. Yet, a North African tribe that had become Christian much earlier in time had a custom of colouring eggs at Easter. Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. Later, Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence.
Our oldest Gillyboy has been faithfully keeping off sweet things for Lent so he is eagerly awaiting unwrapping his chocolate eggs today.
After a week of deepest snow and freezing temperatures, we all long for winter to end and Spring to arrive with longer days and warm sunshine. Today, on Resurrection Sunday, I am celebrating the unwrapping of the grave clothes, the cracking open of the tomb and the victory of Christ over death.
He is risen!

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Easter Greetings

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Easter greetings to you all from Mrs Gillybirds and her girls!
Bet you didn’t know there is actually a variety of laying hen called “Easter Eggers”. They are not a breed per se, but a variety of chicken that does not conform to any breed standard but lays large to extra large eggs that vary in shade from blue to green to olive to aqua and sometimes even pinkish. Easter Eggers vary widely in colour and conformation, and are exceptionally friendly and hardy, making great family pet hens.

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They do look quite different to the Gillybirds, though they can come in any colour at all. I would love it though if they looked like this –

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