Peep’s (or Cheep’s) first egg! And a pot roast recipe

I went out to check the chickens this morning and found an egg without a shell in the nest. One of our new girls, either Peep or Cheep, has laid her first egg. It is small and there is a membrane, but no calcium shell on it. This is common with very young hens and their first egg. I’m so excited.

One of our new hens laid her first egg--with no shell!

One of our new hens laid her first egg–with no shell!

I touched the membrane to leave a dimple so you could tell that this is membrane, not shell. With two new hens and three old ones, I should get 400 eggs easily this year. That is my goal. Barred Rock hens should lay 250 eggs a year, so I could very well get over 500 eggs this year. Bring it on!

Boneless beef pot roast was on sale this week, and yesterday was sunny, so I made pot roast in our solar oven. I don’t really measure things, but this is my best guess of what I did.

2.5 lbs boneless beef pot roast

1/4 flour for dredging and to thicken gravy

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp dry thyme

2 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced

1 large yellow onion

4 small or 2 large cloves of garlic

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4-6 carrots, scraped and cut into inch long lengths

6 small to medium tomatoes (mine were frozen whole)

1/2 C good red wine (I used old vine zinfandel that was leftover from the previous night’s dinner)

1/4 C water

2 bay leaves

Peel and cut four potatoes and several carrots.

Peel and cut four potatoes and several carrots.

Slice a yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Dice two slices of applewood smoked bacon and fry, then add onion and garlic. Cook until bacon is done and onions are brown. Set aside.

Dredge pot roast in flour with salt and thyme. and brown in bacon fat.

Dredge pot roast in flour with salt and thyme. and brown in bacon fat.

Thaw six frozen whole tomatoes on the "defrost fish" setting of the microwave. Cut in half and discard tough skins.

Thaw six frozen whole tomatoes on the “defrost fish” setting of the microwave. Cut in half and discard tough skins.

Assemble pot roast in the solar oven pan, meat first, then carrots and potatoes, then onion mixture, and top with tomatoes.

Assemble pot roast in the solar oven pan, meat first, then carrots and potatoes, then onion mixture, and top with tomatoes. Tuck two bay leaves around the edges.

Add 1/2 C red wine and 1/4 C water to pot and place in solar oven.

Preheat oven in the sun for an hour. Cook pot roast in the sun at over 250 for about 4-5 hours.

Preheat oven in the sun for an hour. Cook pot roast in the sun at over 250 for about 4-5 hours.

This is my Sun Oven brand of solar oven. I just love it. However, I started too late in the morning and didn’t get my roast in until 1 pm. There wasn’t enough sunshine left to cook the roast completely, so I finished it on the stovetop in a larger pan, adding a couple of tablespoons of reserved flour that I used for dredging. This was the best pot roast I’ve ever made.

The tomatoes and bay leaves were from my garden. I have a little bay laurel tree in a pot in the driveway and can pick a leaf whenever I want one as they are evergreen.

The nice thing about the Sun Oven is that you need very little additional liquid and the flavors are concentrated. The food comes out moist and tender. I can’t say enough good things about cooking with solar power. It saves natural resources (gas or electricity), and fights global warming. That’s assuming that you use it enough to offset the greenhouse gases that were generated in the manufacture and shipping of the oven. There is always that tradeoff. They are ridiculously expensive in comparison to a regular gas or electric range, especially given that it is just an insulated box with a glass top and aluminum reflectors.

If you used something from your garden or your stores of preserved food, visit Robin at the Gardener of Eden.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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6 Responses to Peep’s (or Cheep’s) first egg! And a pot roast recipe

  1. Daphne says:

    It looks wonderful. It makes me wish I could eat tomatoes again. I love tomatoes with beef. Usually I make stew and not roasts though.

    • Daphne, I think of you every time I peel potatoes with green skin. I wonder if you will get over your solanum allergy with time. Guess it’s not worth the risk. BTW, the only difference between this pot roast and stew is the size of the beef chunks.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    I did not know the first egg laid by a young hen has a membrane and not a shell, learned something new, thanks.
    Your stew sounds delicious. .

  3. leduesorelle says:

    Gorgeous egg (had no idea they sometimes came without a shell), and a perfect thing to cook in a solar oven — I can smell the aromas from the lifted lid from here 😉

    • Leduesorelle, I am very tempted to cook in the solar oven today, but the sun keeps poking back behind clouds so i think I’ll use the regular oven. Oh, and look at the time. No time for the solar oven today anyway. Time has slipped away from me.

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