50 Ways to Make a Breakfast Frittata

A few months ago, I was visiting Cleveland and took a cooking class with friends at The Western Reserve School of Cooking. One of the dishes we made with owner and chef, Catherine St. John, was an oven-baked version of the classic Italian frittata, traditionally cooked on the stovetop. This baked version is an easier method to use when feeding a crowd for breakfast or dinner. It’s perfect for the holidays.

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Frittatas are very similar to omelets; they’re just not folded over. They are also firmer in texture and when cut into squares and served at room temperature,  are quite portable for serving at lunch, or as an appetizer. They provide a great way to use up fresh vegetables and leftovers from the refrigerator, too.

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I learned from Chef Catherine to first sauté vegetables in a non-stick skillet, then pour them into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, add egg and cheese mixture, and bake for 20 minutes in the oven. Since learning to make frittatas in this way, I’ve been making them about once a week.

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Preparing frittatas makes me feel very in touch with my Sicilian roots where egg dishes were the norm and roast chicken was not; in the olden days, people didn’t typically eat the chickens that laid their eggs! We relate to that philosophy at our house; we eat lots of egg dishes thanks to our backyard flock of free-range pasture-fed chickens.

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I’ve developed a fool-proof egg mixture that is easy to remember for my frittatas: 12 large eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk or cream or ricotta, 1 heaping cup of shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan — added to any variety of cooked vegetables that will loosely fill your lasagna pan to about the one inch mark. The vegetables need to be pre-cooked so they do not water down your frittata while baking.

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Here’s a recipe to get you started. You’ll be improvising in no time.

Ingredients:

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The Egg and Cheese Mixture:
12 large eggs
½ cup ricotta, whole milk, or cream
1 tsp salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 heaping cup any cheese, shredded

The Veggie Mixture:
4 cups of potatoes (about 4 medium or 1½ pounds), diced or shredded
1½ cups green onions with tops, about 5, sliced
½ red bell pepper, about ½ cup, seeded and diced
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic (from the jar is fine)
2 cups any cooked leftover vegetable such as zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, or cauliflower, OR any uncooked greens such as spinach, chard or kale
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º

Chop all the fresh veggies. Here, I’ve used fresh, thin-skinned, buttery Yukon potatoes and red potatoes, red bell pepper, green onions with their stalks, and minced garlic (shown here in a tablespoon).

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Sauté garlic, onion, pepper, and potatoes in olive oil, on medium heat, in a 12-inch non-stick skillet for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, but still firm.

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Stir in drained leftover cooked veggies and heat until warm.  In this frittata, I used roasted zucchini and summer squash with green onions and garlic that I had in the fridge.

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Spread your vegetable medley evenly into a lasagna pan.DSC_0747

Mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper and add mixture to the lasagna pan. I use ricotta for this dish because we keep reduced-fat milk in our fridge and it’s not substantial enough for this recipe.  I do, however, always have ricotta in the fridge, and it’s a tasty substitute. If I had cream, I would use it. Remember, I like to use what I have on hand to make this recipe, and as such, I improvise quite a bit to not have to run to the grocery store for an ingredient. It’s a dumb game I play — using up what’s in the fridge; I hate throwing away food!

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Add shredded cheese and mix it into the vegetables and eggs. Be sure to use a spatula to spread the egg mixture into all the crevices.DSC_0748

Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Insert knife point into the center to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, remove from oven. If not, cook for another 5 minutes and check again. Repeat until done.

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Another frittata version: potatoes, kale, green onion, zucchini, and a lone radish

This was one day’s pickings from the backyard. I decided, as a trial, to throw all of it into a frittata along with the dairy ingredients to see if it would work. Instead of using leftover vegetables, I tried fresh kale. It was delicious.

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Here it is, all prepped.

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Here is how I prepped the vegetables:

Green onions
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A lone watermelon radish
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My first zucchini of the season!
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Shredded potatoes
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I trimmed the stem off of each large kale leaf because it was thick and would take longer to cook.

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Then, I tore the leaves into 3-inch pieces. I added the kale leaves to the vegetable sauté last, and only cooked them for one minute until wilted. Chard, collards, or spinach would also work well here. Be sure to remove the thick stems from the collards or chard.

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Notice how when the frittata first comes out of the oven, it is like a soufflé, all puffed up and fluffy. It will fall after about 5-10 minutes. I think the frittata is tastiest when it is still light and fluffy like this, but as I have said, it is still excellent later in the day at room temperature, or cold from the fridge.

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Once, I had a bunch of different cheeses leftover from a cookout and used all of them for the cheese portion of the recipe. This worked just fine.
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Another frittata version: leftover ditalini pasta and roasted zucchini, summer squash, and leeks, with fresh, chopped mint

I increased the amount of cheese for this version:
12 eggs, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella
4 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups roasted zucchini with leeks, 1/2 cup chopped mint

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Prepping the mint

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Prepping the mozzarella

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The four stages of combining and baking the frittata:DSC_0998 DSC_0999    DSC_0006 DSC_0012  

Melty goodness!

Other delicious foods to serve at breakfast
Fruit and Nut Bread
The Biscuit King
Very Berry Clafoutis
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Kale
Sorghum, Seeds, and Grains Granola
How to Make Grape Jelly (and grow the grapes)

LET’S STAY CONNECTED!

Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Growing Sweet Potatoes and Other Crops at Delvin Farms

“Bringing people together to grow, cook and share nourishing food.”  The Nashville Food Project’s motto is my motto, too.IMG_0821

On Monday mornings, The Nashville Food Project sends a team of staff, interns, and volunteers to glean from the fields of Delvin Farms, a 140-acre farm in College Grove, Tennessee. The farm, started by the Delvin family in 1972, became certified organic in 1998 and began operating a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in 1999. In addition to their CSA, you can purchase their fruits and vegetables at various Farmers Markets around town. I was thrilled to get a chance to visit the farm with TNFP’s Monday team of gleaners: Marijke, Darrius, and Chris.

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We drove to College Grove in TNFP’s new refrigerated food recovery truck donated to TNFP by the H.G. Hill Realty Company this year.DSC_0370

Every Monday, when the team arrives at Delvin Farm, Hank Delvin, Jr. directs TNFP’s food recovery team to different areas of the farm where they can glean. This week, the gleaners harvested onions and chard from fields about to be plowed over. Hank also let us glean from Delvin Farm’s abundance when he let us harvest from their newly ripening fields of zucchini and summer squash. This was Biblical. The Delvins’ generosity netted the indigent citizens of Nashville 295 pounds of fresh produce, this week alone.

Zucchini and Squash Fields
These fields take my breath away!

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I like the way the Delvins cut down on watering, as well as how they control weeds and insects by laying heavy black plastic over the dirt. They then run a soaker hose under the plastic to water the plants.

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Onion Field
That’s Hank and Chris out in the field harvesting onions.DSC_0424DSC_0427

Swiss Chard Field
Rainbow chard always looks like a bouquet of flowers to me. I asked Darrius, TNFP’s Meals Assistant, to pose for me in this photo.DSC_0431DSC_0433

At some point, I was distracted from gleaning by what was going on in the next field over…

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I walked up to the jovial field hands to ask what they were planting. Sweet potatoes.

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I must admit, when I first saw them, I thought of this, the Nashville Pedal Tavern.

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I asked Hank Sr. to tell me about growing sweet potatoes.DSC_0443

Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family. Notice how similarly the flowers grow.

sweet potato flower 

Sweet potatoes are a tropical plant and should be planted when the ground is warm in early summer. They’ll be ready to harvest in 120 – 160 days depending on which variety you plant. The “slips” are very hardy; it doesn’t matter how limp the leaves look, as long as they have a few roots on them, they’ll take.

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The Delvins plant thousands of potato slips each year.DSC_0437

I  am attracted to vintage, ingenious, efficient, gadgets of all sizes and this old planter was no exception.

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Here is how the planter works: A stationary v-grooved piece of metal cuts a thin gully in the soil as the tractor moves forward. Meanwhile, the field hands add slips of sweet potato vines into a device much like a Ferris wheel with multiple slip-carrying trays attached to a rim in such a way that as the wheel rotates, the little trays drop the slips into the dirt. As the slip drops in the ground, two red stationary wheels push the side soil back into place “locking” the slip into the soil. Simultaneously, a black hose delivers a squirt of water to each plant from the yellow tank located behind the men.

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Voila!

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Back to the gleaning. We loaded the containers of food into the refrigerator truck.

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We drove twenty minutes back to TNFP’s headquarters and brought the food into the prep room to be weighed. TNFP’s prep room is a beehive of activity where you hear the harmonious sounds of chopping mixed with chatting. Sign up for a shift at Hands on Nashville!

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Then the food went into our walk-in refrigerator to be used during the week.DSC_0467

I went home and planted the potato slips Hank had given me. One variety is called Orleans (top grouping) and the other is a Japanese variety known as Murasaki.

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I planted the slips in my potato bed in between the Red Norland and Yukon Gold potato plants. The white potato plant leaves should start to turn yellow and die this month which will make room for the sweet potato vines to grow. I’ve never planted sweet potatoes this way before, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Like so many new ideas, we’ll see.

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I think the Delvins would be happy to know that TNFP used all of the vegetables gleaned from their farm this week as they prepared and shared meals for over 1100 Nashvillians. The onions and chard ribs/stems (like celery stalks) went into the chopped vegetables of this week’s entree, Shepherd’s Pie.

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The zucchini and summer squash were chopped by volunteer prep teams and prepared for roasting by the chef teams who simply added olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper and roasted them at 400º for 40 minutes.

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Our chef team decided to add the chard leaves (with ribs removed) to the still piping hot zucchini when it came out of the oven.

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We added the leaves, mixed them in, covered the pan, and put it all back in the oven for another five minutes. The combination was good and a quick way for us to prepare the chard with limited stovetop and oven space. If I were home, I would have served the roasted zucchini/chard mixture over pasta with Parmesan sprinkled on top.

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As Curious George would say, Today was a good day to be curious.

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Related Posts on Commercial Farming:

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Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Fall Planting Guide for Your Kitchen Garden

About 10 years ago, we had the deck on the side of our home dismantled. The contractor who did the work asked if he could have the twenty 12 x 2 x 13-foot pressure treated wood boards that had previously supported the deck floor. I didn’t know much about reclaiming used wood, but I remember thinking, If he wants it, maybe I should want it. I had him put the boards under our porch until I could figure out another use for them.

Many years later, I was looking at a barren, sunny area in my backyard and had a vision for a way to get more garden space for my vegetables — make raised beds using those old boards. I had a handyman build four 4 x 13-foot beds for me. Last summer, Jeremy Lekich, owner of Nashville Foodscapes, built two more raised beds and filled all six of them with his gorgeous, dark, chocolate-colored compost. Next, Jeremy and his team built a beautiful, simple, chicken-proof fence around the beds.

My compost bed is located behind the white picket fence in the photo above. The chickens have open access to it and it’s the first place they run to when I let them out in the morning.

Here is a photo of the same garden taken September 25, 2015

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I love the way Jeremy used inch-thick cardboard to smother and kill the crabgrass underneath the woodchip-covered paths in the new garden rather than using chemicals to do the same job. Now that I’ve become more educated by the fabulous education department of The Cumberland River Compact regarding water quality, runoff and watershed issues, I’m much more conscious about the use of chemicals that can leach into our soil and eventually into our ground water.

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On August 24, 2014, I planted a fall vegetable garden in three of the raised boxes with the intention of using hoops and agriculture cloth to protect the beds as we moved into winter. It was one big experiment and it was fun. First of all, I loved checking the garden beds every morning to see if seedlings had pushed through the dirt and unfurled their first leaves. Just knowing they were under there getting ready to pop kept me in a state of happy anticipation; I have been known to get on my hands and knees to inspect the earth in search of those first glimmers of green. Later, as it became colder in the winter, it was thrilling to go to the back garden and pick green onions and spinach from those same beds when a recipe called for them. Even with this year’s harsh winter: an early freeze in November, another one in January, and then a two-week freeze in February, many of the vegetables survived and perked up in March for an abundant spring harvest.

 

For those of you who are thinking of planting a fall/winter garden, I kept a photo journal of the project knowing a picture is worth many words. For each raised bed, I used four sequential pictures of how the plants looked as the weather temperature changed.

The raised bed series of photos were taken on 9/4, 10/9, 12/31 (taken from inside the covered garden, opposite direction), and 3/15, the day I took the protective cloth off.

Raised Bed #1, Root Vegetables
Left to Right: garlic, beets, garlic, carrots, green onions, leeks

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Garlic
Garlic cloves planted 9/15. Only about 15% of the plants survived the February freeze. The ones that survived are still forming their bulbs. In March, I added more garlic cloves. They should all be ready for harvest in August. Next year, I will mulch them with straw.

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“Colorful Beet Mix”
Seeds planted 8/24. We started snipping leaves for salads in October. None of the plants survived the February freeze. Next year, I will mulch them with straw.

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Green Onions (aka Scallions or Spring Onions)
I planted two rows of onion “sets” on 9/1 and two rows of onion seeds on 8/24 (on the right side). If you look closely, you can see the faint strands of green seedlings. Unfortunately, the young seedlings didn’t make it through the winter. We started harvesting green onions from the sets in November and continue to do so even now.

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“Kaleidoscope Carrots”
Seeds planted 8/24. Harvested through early May. The carrots had beautiful color, but were thin and not as flavorful as I had hoped.

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Leeks
Seedlings planted 9/15. Harvesting now.

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Raised Bed #2, Greens
Left to right: many lettuce varieties, mache, and spinach

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“Mesclun Lettuce Mix”
Seeds planted 8/24. This was the first seed to germinate in my fall garden. I pretty much watched it unfurl.

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“Gourmet Blend Lettuce Mix”
2 rows of seeds planted 8/24. By 9/18 only a third of the seeds had germinated. A huge difference from the Mesclun Mix on the left in the second photo.

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On 9/22  I bought “Salad Bowl Mix” seedlings and filled in the empty spaces created by the spotty germination of the Gourmet Blend Mix. We started eating lettuce by mid-October. Surprisingly, many of the red oak leaf lettuce plants survived the hard freezes. Note to self, plant more red, oak leaf lettuce plants in the fall!

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“Bloomsdale Spinach”
2 rows of seeds planted 8/24. Only half the seeds germinated so I consolidated the two rows into one. We harvested the Bloomsdale crinkly spinach leaves all winter. The plants started to bolt May 3rd and I pulled them.

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“Hybrid Smooth Leaf Spinach” 
Seeds planted 10/2 to the right of the Bloomsdale spinach. We continue to harvest this variety now. Note those smooth leaves. Just sayin’.

 Fall garden  bridget soup

Mache (aka Corn Salad)
Seeds planted 10/2. Harvested March-April. Plants started flowering in late April and I pulled them. Mache is a good cold weather lettuce alternative.

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Raised Bed #3, Root Vegetables with Edible Tops
Left to right: Broccoli, beets, turnips, radishes

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“Sparkle” & “Champion” Radishes
Seeds planted on 8/24. The crop failed because radish seeds were planted too close to one another and a ball couldn’t form. I should have thinned them out when they were seedlings. At the time, I didn’t think thinning mattered. I’ve learned my lesson. The same problem happened with the turnips — no ball formation. The crop wasn’t a total failure because I was able to harvest greens from each plant. Yes, you can eat the tops of radishes. Some varieties taste better than others.

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“Purple Top White Globe Turnips”
Seeds planted 8/24 (on left). Started harvesting turnip greens just one month later! As mentioned above, the plant did not form a turnip ball in its root. Instead, the roots were long and thin as in the picture above.

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“Colorful Beet Mix”
Seeds planted 8/24.  None of these plants survived the freeze.

Broccoli
Seedlings planted 10/2. The broccoli did not make it through the freeze.

What I learned
-I now know which plants are the most cold-hardy: spinach, mache (corn salad), green onions, leeks, and carrots. I think the beets, kale*, and garlic could have made it, had I mulched them with straw.

– When you plant tiny seeds, such as radishes and turnips, plant them separately, each a few inches apart, OR, direct seed them haphazardly and thin them as they mature, OR, as The Barefoot Farmer suggested to me, mix them with sand and scatter them in the row.

-Kale* I had a 4th bed with kale in it that I threw a tarp over at the last minute when it turned cold. It didn’t stand a chance with the blue tarp, as the sunlight was totally occluded. This fall, I will do a better job of planning which plants I put under the protective cloths. For example, I’d like to add a few hardy herbs to the mix, such as rosemary, parsley, and sage.

-When I bought the protective cloth, I didn’t plan on the extra amount of cloth it would take to cover the ends of each “tunnel” which was about another six feet of fabric per tunnel. I covered the first two beds just fine, but ran out of fabric by the third tunnel. That last bed, the one with the broccoli, had open ends and nothing survived in it because of the draft. If you are purchasing protective cloth for the winter, remember to add extra fabric for the ends. I bought the ag cloth and hoops, as well as many of the seeds and seedlings, at Gardens of Babylon next to the Farmers Market.

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How cold was it?
Even the eggs froze!

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I harvested this basket of greens on November 12th, the night before our first hard freeze.

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Other Posts About Farming
Spring Planting Guide for Your Kitchen Garden
Family Dirt
Herb Porch Pots!
How to Make Grape Jelly (and grow the grapes)
WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece
How Canola Oil is Made (from plants grown locally)
The Tobacco Barns of Trigg County

 

LET’S STAY CONNECTED!

Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.