Building Happy Chicken Homes

Huzzah, another episode of Zach’s DIY! Check out Zach, his engineering friend Lamar, and Lamar’s dad build two cozy homes for their adorable farm chicks and chickens:


As you saw in the video, we filmed the beginning of this project almost 2.5 years ago. We took so much footage — almost 70GB worth, aiyaa! It was pretty neat to watch those little chicks grow up into full-size, poofy chickens over the months we filmed. And Lamar’s parents were so lovely and hospitable whenever Zach and I would come visit, so I want to say a big thank you to Lamar’s Mom and Dad! And of course Lamar, who let us come along on his family’s chicken-raising adventure.

Lamar’s family now has another coop and over 100 chickens in total. They’re easily able to sell the extra eggs with just a little sign as advertising. If you ever get the chance to try or buy fresh eggs right off the farm, I highly recommend it because they’re usually cheaper and fresher than the free-range ones you can get in the store.

In the future, Zach and I hope to raise our own chickens because everyone in our family loves farm eggs, Poopy included! Yaaay chickeennnnnss!

Egg Pudding for Bubble Tea

I’ve always loved pudding. When I was a kid, I would crave those little plastic cups of pudding — chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, and especially tapioca. I would sometimes sneakily pop open a cup at home and eat it … and then feel soooo bad, because there was some unwritten rule in my head that packaged snack foods were only for lunch bags or car trips, and eating them at home was wasteful and horrible for the environment.

Now that I’m older, my love for pudding continues. And egg pudding in bubble tea? Pretty much the best snack-drink hybrid ever:


Ingredients:
3/4 cup half & half cream (10% milk fat)
1 tsp. gelatine
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. granulated sugar
3 egg (yolks)

Equipment:
Measuring Spoon
Measuring Cup
Small Pot
Small Bowl
Medium Bowl
Whisk
Container with Lid
Large Spoon

Directions:

  1. Add 1 tsp. of gelatine to 1/4 cup of water. Put aside (i.e., to bloom).
  2. Heat up the cream on low heat. You want it to be hot but not simmering.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (save them to use in another recipe!). Put the yolks in a medium bowl and add 2 tbsp. of granulated sugar, plus another 1 tsp. if you like your pudding sweeter. Beat for about 2 minutes with a whisk until thickened and the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Turn off the heat and slowly add about 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the egg-sugar mixture. Whisk to combine. Add another 1/4 cup of cream and whisk.
  5. Pour the cream-egg-sugar back into the pot with the remaining cream. Turn on the heat to low-medium, and heat up the mixture, whisking constantly to just barely cook the egg yolks, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat and add the bloomed gelatine. Whisk to combine until the gelatine is full melted.
  7. Pour the mixture into a container with a lid and chill for at least 4 hours.
  8. Use a large spoon to add flat chunks of the pudding to a tall glass. Add crushed ice, strong black tea, milk, a bubble tea straw, and enjoy!

The egg pudding has the best texture when it’s room temperature or slightly cool, so don’t add in too much ice — the gelatine will firm up and the pudding will be harder to drink up the straw. You can actually leave out the ice if you brew then chill your tea beforehand.

If you’re lactose intolerant, you can definitely substitute full-fat coconut milk for the half & half. Top your bubble tea with some fresh, chopped-up mango and lychee, and you’ll have a tropical party in your mouth!

And if you’re wondering where I got those fun metal straws, you can get them from amazon.com, or from eBay if you’re in Canada.

Monarch Butterfly Skirt

Sometimes, I’ll buy fabric just because it’s pretty and feels nice, even though I have no idea what I’ll make out of it. (Cue “woh-woh” and shot of 3 large bins of fabric sitting in my house.) Anyhoo, the skirt in this video was made from one of those pieces of fabric — a lovely piece of flowy, rayon twill in a smoky blue-grey.

I initially considered painting on seagulls, Japanese cranes, or tropical fish, but I’m glad I finally settled on monarch butterflies. Take a look:


The whole project took about a month and a half to complete, which is why I haven’t posted a video in a while. It is hilariously difficult to sew and film with a baby, especially one who is just starting to crawl and get his little hands into all kinds of trouble. I have bloopers of Poopy crawling into frame during wide shots, his head or feet coming into view while strapped to me in his carrier during close-up shots, and me running to pull Poopy away from electrical outlets, dangling wires, or the camera tripod in several other shots.

For my next sewing project, I’m thinking of doing some kind of big tote bag in leather and cotton twill, with plenty of metal bits to make it look legit. Time to go fabric shopping again …

Homemade Green Tea Ice Cream

The first time I had green tea ice cream was at a restaurant called Mr. Wong’s Super Buffet in Scarborough. I was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time, and the flavour seemed incredibly novel to me — like some kind of wacky dessert dreamed up in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Green tea and matcha-flavoured desserts are much more common nowadays, and matcha green tea powder can be found in most Asian grocery stores. You don’t need an ice cream machine or any special ingredients for this recipe, which means you can probably make this ice cream any time you like. Oh wait, this could be dangerous …

Anyhoo, on to the video!


Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. matcha green tea powder
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream (35% milk fat)

Equipment:
Big Bowl
Medium Bowl
Small Pot
Spatula
Tablespoon
Hand Blender
Large Container with Lid (capacity: at least 2 L)

Directions:

  1. Boil 1/4 cup of water in a small pot.
  2. Mix 4 tbsp. of the boiling water and 2 tbsp. matcha green tea powder in a big bowl. If necessary, add a bit more water to make a smooth, dark green paste.
  3. Add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine and smushing out any green lumps.
  4. Whip 1 pint of whipping cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form.
  5. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the matcha and condensed milk until everything is an even, light green colour.
  6. Pour the mixture into a big container, smooth out the top, and put on the lid.
  7. Chill for at least 6 hours. You don’t have to worry about overchilling it. The ice cream will stay scoopable no matter how long it’s in the freezer!

In the video, you can see that it took a bit of effort to scoop out the ice cream. It’s actually easier to eat the ice cream straight out of the container with a fork rather than try to scoop it out. The consistency is very similar to Häagen-Dazs, which is one of my favourite brands of ice cream because the flavours are so pure with very few ingredients. That’s probably why they’re so rich, creamy, and delicious!

After you make this green tea ice cream — because you’re definitely going to, right?!? — try experimenting with other flavours. I’ve made vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate chip ice cream, and I’ll probably try some fruit flavours next. All you need to do is mix an appropriate amount of your flavouring ingredient (somewhere between 1 tbsp. and 1/2 cup) with a can of condensed milk, fold in a pint of whipped whipping cream, and chill the mixture for a few hours. Super simple and super yummy!

 

 

 

Zach’s DIY: Baby Change Table

Introducing a new series on Nuddy Bar: Zach’s DIY!

Zach is my husband and he likes making stuff and blowing up stuff and getting involved in random hijinks — he’s a mechanical engineer from the University of Toronto, which explains many of these things :P. In this first episode, Zach makes a baby change table using a slightly modified design by the Rogue Engineer:


There’s a bit more to the story than what’s in the video. As mentioned, we filmed some footage of the change table the night before Poopy was born. At 4AM, my water broke and I woke up Zach (“It’s happening!”) but I wasn’t having regular contractions yet. Our midwife advised us over the phone to try to go back to sleep and wait for 5-1-1, which means 1-minute contractions, 5 minutes apart, for 1 hour.

What we didn’t know was that I was having precipitous labour, which is fairly rare and wasn’t mentioned in prenatal class or any of the things we had read online. Basically, after early labour, you go into a very fast active labour and have your baby in under 3 hours.

Around 8AM, I started having really strong contractions 2 minutes apart (I had skipped right past early labour). I flailed around in the bathroom yelling for an hour while Zach held onto me because we didn’t know what was happening and were still waiting for 5-1-1. Zach finally called our midwife and she was pretty alarmed when she heard what was going on: “Call 911! You have to get to the hospital now!”

The ambulance pulled up at 9:10AM and the paramedics hustled Zach and me out of the house because the baby was ready to come out at any minute. I was barefoot in only a dress, with no overnight bag, no purse, and all Zach had was his morning smoothie. We ran a couple of red lights with sirens wailing, but things inside the ambulance were hilariously chill and normal in between me yelling:

Paramedic 1: /coasts through red light/ You didn’t see that.
Zach: You’re supposed to pause at red lights? /drinks his smoothie/

Jen: You must be used to this happening.
Paramedic 2: Actually, I’ve only done one birth before, so try to resist the urge to push.
Jen: Don’t worry, you’ll do fine. /pats paramedic on the knee like an old grandma/

We got to the hospital around 9:20AM, they wheeled me into a delivery room, I pushed for half an hour, and Poopy was born at 9:56AM. And that was that!

I’m hoping to document many more of Zach’s projects this year. The next episode will be about a 25-hen chicken coop that he made with his UofT friend Lamar, so look forward to seeing some fuzzy little chicks and more cuteness ;P

 

How to Shampoo Using An Egg

After reading the blog title, you might be asking yourself, “Why?!? Why would anyone do this?” Well, here’s the story behind this crazy idea:

As a new mom, I had the time and energy to shower maybe once a week during the first couple of months. Gross, I know 😛 Anyhoo, my hair and scalp ended up going through some kind of natural detox and would freak out after my once-a-week washing with store-bought shampoo. My hair would be clean but I would have really flaky, greasy dandruff each time, like my scalp was trying to shed the top layer.

So I started looking for shampoo alternatives that would (1) work well even if I only used it once a week, (2) be easy to use, and (3) not be super expensive or hard to get. I’d tried the “no poo” baking soda and vinegar method a few years ago but my hair didn’t like it (and it’s probably too harsh on hair because of the pH’s). Same with shampoo bars and liquid castile soap. My hair didn’t like them, even after the 4-6-week detox and adjustment period.

After some DuckDuckGo-ing, I found that various natural beauty bloggers had tried using an egg, specifically an egg yolk, to wash their hair. I thought, that makes so much sense! Egg yolk is an emulsifier that gets used in cooking to mix oil and water in things like mayonnaise and salad dressing. In the shower, I’d essentially be making hair oil mayo and then rinsing it out. Genius! … in theory. Would it actually work in real life? Well, take a look:


So the answer is: Yes! It really does work. But wait, there’s more …

The problem with store-bought shampoos is that they clean too well, especially if you rinse and repeat. They strip your scalp of natural oil and mess up the natural sebum balance, causing your scalp to overproduce oil to compensate … which you then need to wash out with shampoo … which makes your scalp produce more oil … and so on. You really don’t need to shampoo your hair daily. (It wasn’t until the last 50 years or so that people started to shampoo more frequently than once or twice a month!) That’s not to say you shouldn’t shower or wash yourself every day — you just don’t need shampoo your hair each time ^_^ The less you shampoo, the less oil your scalp will make until it reaches its natural balance. It’s that simple.

But no one wants to look like a greaseball for a few weeks while their scalp settles down to producing less oil. That’s why egg yolk is so great! It cleans your hair without doing a super duper job of cleaning out the oil, leaving just enough to make your scalp reasonably happy. You can slowly increase the amount of time between washings, e.g., a day at a time, and your scalp will slowly produce less oil and not freak out when you wash again with egg yolk. And there’s no adjustment or detox period necessary, or if there is, it’ll probably only last a week or two. You really can start washing with egg yolk today!

Wow, this all sounds great! But are there any cons? Yes, I have noticed a few:

  • Although my hair is clean, soft, and shiny, it is less shiny and slippery compared to when I used store-bought shampoo and conditioner — probably because it’s not coated with silicone and other chemicals. There are a few things you can to do condition your hair and boost shine after washing with egg yolk: acid rinses, tea or herbal rinses, coconut milk, various oils, or a gelatin mask.
  • I sometimes find a bit of cooked egg in my hair but that usually doesn’t happen if I pick out the egg whites/bits before washing and make sure the water is slightly cool or lukewarm when rinsing.
  • I’m flushing an egg yolk down the drain every time I shampoo. That makes me sad. But I’d rather put 3-4 egg yolks a month into the water system instead of chemicals from store-bought shampoos. Not putting chemicals on my hair and body, not having to shut my eyes while shampooing, and not buying plastic bottles are also great.
  • It requires a bit more time and effort to wash with egg than with regular shampoo and there are no fun bubbles or fragrances unless you add essential oils.

Will I ever go back to using store-bought shampoo? Probably not. I don’t think my hair can handle regular shampoo any more. Also, I only have to egg wash my hair every 5-6 days now, which is awesome. I’m hoping to eventually push that to every 2 weeks. My husband washes his hair with egg yolk as well and he can currently go 10-12 days between washings (he has normal-dry skin whereas I have combination skin).

So what do you think? Are you pumped to start shampooing your hair with egg? Or is it just too weird?

Give it a try, at least once. You might be surprised by how much you like it ;D

Quick & Easy Sesame Seed Snaps

I loved eating sesame seed snaps when I was a kid! They’d be a special treat that we’d get from my Grandma or, very infrequently, from the candy aisle in the Chinese grocery store.

I remember picking up a pack a few years ago and being all excited to relive my childhood. But when I bit into one of the snaps … it was stale! Gross! Skip forward 5 years, and it finally occurred to me that I could make them myself and never have to bite into a sad sesame snap again.

Here’s how:


Ingredients:
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Equipment:
Large, Heavy-Bottom Pot
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
8″x8″ Pan (or larger)
Wooden Spoon
Rubber Spatula
Cutting Board
Large Knife

Directions:

  1. Butter your pan, spatula, and knife.
  2. Add the lemon juice to your pot, swirling to coat the bottom, then pour the sugar on top, shaking to spread out the sugar. Measure out your baking soda and leave the spoon beside your stove.

  3. Cook the pot over medium heat until the sugar is more than half dissolved. You should see bubbling and possibly some caramelization around the edges.

  4. Pour in the sesame seeds. Slowly and gently mix to evenly cook and combine everything. Make sure it doesn’t burn!

  5. When the seeds are toasted and the sugar is all melted and starting to caramelize, stir in the baking soda. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and continue cooking until the mixture is an even caramel colour.

  6. Turn off the heat and immediately scrape out as much of the mixture as possible into your pan. Quickly spread it out to the edges of the pan (it’ll be 4-5 mm thick). If you’re using a pan larger than 8″x8″, aim for a 2-3 mm thickness.
  7. When the mixture is still hot but cooled down enough to touch, pop it out of the pan onto your cutting board. Cut into rectangles, squares, or diamonds.

Notes:

  • Adding baking soda is optional. I like to add it because I find it makes the sesame seed snaps lighter and richer-tasting. Check out my Instagram picture here to see a baking soda and baking soda-less recipe side by side.
  • If you want to read more the science behind making these snaps, you can read about sugar and crystallization here and what happens when you add baking soda here.