Harriet the chicken is in the hospital right now. I felt heartless this morning as I did a silent calculation of what I would be willing to spend at the vet to help her get better. What's a chicken worth? The cost of a fryer in the supermarket? I've spent a lot more than that already on these three girls. The cost of a year's worth of eggs? Well, taking Harriet to the vet blows that budget out of the water too.
But I know Harriet, I've seen her silly antics in the coop with her coopmates, and I've enjoyed the bob of her little white head as she dances for the chard we bring her. Also, I chose to keep chickens without having the savvy of an experienced farmer. While I've read the books, when an illness like Harriet's presents itself to me, I can identify symptoms but I just don't have the confidence to treat them myself, and that is in no way the poor bird's fault. I took the responsibility of her when I brought her home. So, she's worth more than eggs. She's worth a fair chunk of change, I figured as I took her to the doctor.
At the doctor, I haggled. He suggested an xray. I said she's a chicken. He suggested other very expensive procedures. I said, "She's a chicken. A chicken." I had to keep telling that to myself too. In the end, we came to an agreement on what I was and was not willing to pay. I hope the oxygen treatment (which she clearly desperately needed) and the antibiotics help. If not, I'm getting close to that spending limit I set, and then the really tough decision has to happen.
In the meantime, think about her fondly. If you pray, she could use your prayers: she was one unhappy chicken this morning. If not, wish her well. Or, make her a cake.
Gateau Chocolat et Courgette aka Chocolate and Zucchini Cake
This is straight from Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen by the funny and incredibly appealing Clothilde Dusoulier. The cake is remarkably un-zucchiniesque and actually quite elegant: rich, moist, and very special topped with slightly sweetened, softly whipped cream.
You will need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cupts all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax meal (optional: I added it for more Omega 3s)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 10 inch springform pan.
Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flax meal in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy, then add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.
Reserve a cup of the flour mixture, and mix the rest into the egg mixture until just combined.
To absorb excess moisture and to allow the zucchini to mix evenly into the rest of the batter, toss the zucchini and chocolate chips with the remainder of the flour mixture. Stir the zucchini mixture gently into the chocolate batter until just combined. Scoop the mixture into the springform pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, loosen the pan with a knife, and release the springform.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or top with cream cheese frosting, ganache, or my favorite, softly whipped cream. Serves 12 easily.