Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 1956 “Brownies, and Chocolate and Chickens…Oh My!”

I have mentioned this before and shall, most likely, do so again in the future: Why use box or prepared when it is easier and cheaper to make your own?
I think often we modern women (well when I was a modern woman I did) think, ‘Oh, it’s just easier to use prepared’. However, every day I try another pre-packaged item home-made, I am always more pleased with myself and the product quality.
Cake mixes are fairly easy to make ahead, in fact I have blogged about it before. There are some good dry mixes from my vintage books and even modern versions such as THIS which you can store in the icebox or freezer and is easy to ‘whip up’ as it has the butter already in (hence icebox/freezer storage needed).
chocbrownie I just made some homemade brownies yesterday and they are quite easy. I did not use any homemade make ahead mix, for it is so simple to whip these up.chocbrownieupclose
Yummy Brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan or round pan (I used an 8” single layer cake pan to make fun cake slice servings.)
    2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. I always ‘undercook’ brownies, because as with all foods, they continue to cook when you remove them from the oven.

Again, on the ‘homemade’ track, I often will be in my kitchen using something store bought and will think, “Hmmm, can I make this?” Which has happened with everything from Catsup to Mayonnaise. So, when I wanted some chocolate syrup the other day I thought, “Why buy it?” First of all, most syrups are corn syrup not sugar. They also have odd preservatives and a higher quality would be more expensive. Yet, if you use a good quality unsweetened powdered baking chocolate, then you have the base for homemade chocolate syrup.
I don’t know about you, but my basic pantry supplies always contain powdered unsweetened baking chocolate. It is the base for many wonderful foods and again, the more we reduce our foods to their basic ingredient components, the less we really need to buy and the better quality and healthier our food will be.
chocsyrup1I came up with this very basic chocolate syrup recipe which can easily be stored in your fridge for a month or more (maybe longer, I don’t know as I make small batches and then when I need some last minute, it is so easy to whip up, why have gallons of the stuff sitting around?)
The recipe is basically one part unsweetened chocolate powder to two parts sugar and water and vanilla or any essence to taste. You can use almond or coconut extracts. Because you boil it you can infuse it with any flavor, put some fresh picked culinary variety Lavender in there if you like.  So as an example of the recipe:
chocsyrup2 Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened powdered baking cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
flavoring to taste.
Boil, stirring constantly, until thickened ( about 2 minutes)
cool and decant.
I keep mine in little mason jars. But here is another opportunity to make use of some darling containers or saved jars and print up some of your own labels or little stickers.
Now you wouldn’t think such a simple thing could taste so good. Or else you would just think of the taste of a cheap plastic bottled syrup, it’s good, but you might not think it amazing. Well, last night when we had our friend over, I served the above brownies with a scoop of ice-cream and my chocolate sauce. She thought it was so good and I noticed, as we sat and gabbed over our coffee, that she kept dipping her finger into the leftover sauce on her plate, apologizing but she couldn’t help it. To borrow from a not so tasty fried chicken chain, ‘it’s finger lickin good’.
Now, an odd jump from homemade food to chickens, but I thought I would share some photos of how big my gals (and guys) have got. I still need to share the making of my chicken house and that entire building project I did. But, for now, here they are. I have started free ranging them in my yard. They have a covered chicken run that they can access from their house, but during the day I live the door to from the run to the yard open.
Buttons, my favorite hen, is so tame that she will sit on my lap whenever given the chance. She is the first out and the first to come running when I shout ‘chick chick chick’. I keep my kitchen door open, so my dogs can come and go as they please, and this morning I found Buttons the hen walking about bold as brass in the kitchen. When she saw me and I admonished, “Buttons, what are you doing in here” she just looked at me, clucked and casually strolled out, as if to say, “I will go now, but I will be back”.
It’s funny to think they have gone from thiseggsinincubator to thiseggpippingto thesechicks1  and now here they are and still not full grown.chickens2
I hope everyone enjoys their Saturday, I am lucky that mine is warm and sunny. I shall get a bike ride in this afternoon. Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.


  1. That's so funny Buttons coming into your kitchen! It's wonderful she feels so comfortable around you.

    I am wanting chickens so bad, but I'm not sure if I would get complaints from neighbors. We would also need a fence around the back yard. Maybe I can do a little more research and next year have some!

  2. I think you would only get complaints if you had a rooster, which you do not need. Many people think you need rooster and hens for eggs, which of course is not true. They will not be fertilized but that hardly matters to your eating them! I love chickens and they are well worth keeping.

  3. I had an experience at a bed and breakfast with chickens. I really want to get my own chickens some day. Your chickens look great, I love the coloring. I'm glad things are going well for you.

    Your brownies look so yummy, thanks for sharing.


  4. I can't say enough good things about chickens. They provide you with fresh wonderful eggs, (you can taste and see the difference to store bought) they are very amusing, they provide great compost/soil for your garden. they rid your yard of pests (if you free range them, they love bugs!)and that feeling of walking out into the yard or pen and shouting 'chick chick' and having them come running is a wonderful Little House, Country Girl, Fantasy. Sometimes hubby says I am "Marie Antoinette" playing at being a shepherdess, but I remind him that I don't have a palace to go back to nor servants to dress up as fellow shepherdesses.

  5. Our chickens have been here five days and we've gotten three eggs already! Totally did not expect eggs for at least a week. It'll take some time for them to get going "full steam ahead".

    That brownie recipe is almost identical to the one I tried last month and didn't like. It was too cakey for my tastes. I'm still on the hunt for something very dense and fudgey.

  6. Wonderful! You must have got your hens full size, mine are still growing and won't look for eggs until November or so.
    That recipe can become very dense and fudgey if you add chocolate chips to the batter when you bake it. It's worth a try.

  7. Again, does anyone know what it means when it says, "LINKS TO THIS POST" down there under the comments? I followed the link and it is some random blog. I don't get it, is it somehow mentioning my blog and that is why it shows up there? Anyone know?

  8. It just means that that post on another blog linked to yours. If you look at the page there's a link down on the right that leads to your blog. It's just a way of knowing who is talking about you and sending traffic your way.

    For those thinking of chickens, make sure you consider your area. One of my friends had several chickens until last week when she went out to discover them all dead. She had a 6 foot tall fence around their area but she lives right by a large wooded park and apparently something jumped over the fence anyway. She's had coyotes and such in her yard before, there's a lot of wildlife walking around in there.

  9. Ahh, lovely post, very charming. And thanks for reminding us that simply things are made easily as homemade products instead of bought. Could we have some photos of Buttons? She sounds very charming. I remember at son’s after school club there were “pet-hens”, and they just loved being carried around and petted by the children, funny. :)

  10. Rhonda-Yes, good point. Any good chicken owner should have a COVERED run. My chickens have a run that is 16 feet long, 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall. The sides AND TOP are covered in chicken wire (so nothing could get in even if they scaled the seven feet to the top) and there is a foot of chicken wire dug around the base at an angle away from the pen. This stops digging animals such as opossum, skunks, fox, and racoon. I let my chickens free range some days, but our entire yard is fenced in with a 6 and 8 foot stockade fence and that has chicken wire along the base (for my dogs) and is planted up as well with evergreens. But, I have still had opposum, cats, racoons in my yard. So they get free ranged when I am home and when I am gone they are in their closed off run. This allows them plenty of space to scratch, eat grass and bugs, take dirt baths (which they love) and sun baths (which is adorable to see) in complete safety. I am always surprised when I hear a new chicken owner has just put up a little 'fence' with no top, because chickens can also fly out fairly easy. Those our my chicken tips!
    Sanne-I shall post some pictures of Buttons. I have done a few sketches of her as well and thought she'd be a great children's book character, but my plate is fairly full now. Once the new site is up and easier to update daily, then my art can start moving into the 'online' time.


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