Chickens Love Colorado Springs!

IMG_2069-300x225Welcome to Hungry Chicken Homestead! Six hungry chickens live here as well as some other animals, and people who know where the food is stored.

The chickens love Colorado Springs and want to tell you about local farms and small businesses right here in our community!  Chickens know a thing or two about the importance of a good flock and good things to eat.  Likewise, people benefit from knowing their neighbors and knowing where to get good food!

Look around!  You’ll find stories about Colorado businesses and farms, stories about the Homestead and even listings telling you where to buy food grown or produced right here in our neck of the woods.

We hope you’ll find a little inspiration for your own story too!

Colorado Springs Local Business: Rocky Mountain Soap Market

As you may recall, soap is very important on a homestead.

Their relative, bath bombs, are important too, but we can get along without them in a pinch.  Not so with soap.

Their cousins, bath bombs, are important too, but we can get along without them in a pinch. Not so with soap.

With that in mind, I was delighted to discover a new soap shop on Tejon St.!  The Rocky Mountain Soap Market recently opened its doors, releasing delightfully clean smells out onto the street.

(Note, do not confuse this with the Rocky Mountain Soap Company.  As far as I can tell, those soaps have nothing at all to do with our Rocky Mountains).

The Rocky Mountain Soap Market is Jennifer Ross’s store.  She explained how she became the proprietor of a soap shop after a career as a math teacher.

“I am a math person,” she said.  “That’s why I liked making soap in the first place… because there was so much math to it!”

The next time a young person asks you why math is important you can tell him no shower would ever be complete without math.

The next time a young person asks you why math is important you can tell him no shower would ever be complete without math.

After making her first batch of soap and falling in love with it, Jennifer worked towards perfecting the process.  “The first batch turned out terrible,” she explained, “But I loved the process and challenge of figuring out why it didn’t work!”

Soapmaking is creative as well as exacting.

Soapmaking is creative as well as exacting.

She makes all the soap in the shop.  You can choose from “Natural”, “Nearly Natural” and “Organic” soaps.

You can also build your own bath salt assortment or request lotion made to order.

You can also build your own bath salt assortment or request lotion made to order.

When I walked in she asked me to smell a lotion she was making and explained that one of the odd side effects of spending all day in a soap shop is that she becomes insensitive to scents.

For the record, it smelled wonderful.

For the record, it smelled wonderful.

Jennifer took her soaps to craft fairs, farmers markets and other events, but she wanted something more permanent.  When the Downtown Partnership called to offer her space for a shop, she jumped on it!

“I really feel like this is where God wants me to be,” she said.

In addition to soap, bath salts and lotions; you can buy a gift basket at the shop.

In addition to soap, bath salts and lotions; you can buy a gift basket at the shop.

By the way, Jennifer confirmed something we already know about locally owned businesses.  She chooses what to make by listening to her customers!  For example, a customer wondered if a  patchouli lime soap would be nice.  The next time Jennifer set out to make a batch of soap, guess what she made?  And it IS nice!

You know what that means.

You know what that means.

It’s a good reminder that small business owners are listening to your input.  You get custom, expertly made products with superb customer service from local businesses.  Forget Black Friday.  We’ve got better shopping to do!

(Note to the FTC:  I bought a bar of unscented coffee soap from the shop on my first visit.  I raved about it to Jennifer and she gave me an almond scented coffee soap bar as a gift.  I'll rave about that too.)

(Note to the FTC: I bought a bar of unscented coffee soap from the shop on my first visit. I raved about it to Jennifer and she gave me an almond scented coffee soap bar as a gift. Believe me, I’ll rave about that too.  It’s wonderful!)

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2014

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens

Colorado Springs Local Business: PitStik

Quick!  Look at your thermometer!  What does it say?

Mine says 22° F and yours probably does too, but even though you’ve just put on another layer and you’re holding a hot cup of tea there’s no reason not to talk about this very important topic.

Deodorant.

A person on a homestead uses a lot of deodorant.  Sometimes we wish the animals could too.

A person on a homestead uses a lot of deodorant. Sometimes we wish the animals could too.

PitStik is made by Colorado Springs residents Kris and Michael Renfro.  I met them at the Colorado Farm and Art Market this summer.  Now, it’s not easy selling a single item at a farmers market.  People tend to be looking for tables that look abundant and you can only pile up so many tins before an accident happens.

People might come over and sniff around, like this local member of the Feline Bureau of Investigations, but it's hard to distract them from the vegetables.

People might come over and sniff around, like this local member of the Feline Bureau of Investigations, but ultimately it’s hard to distract them from the vegetables.

Michael and Kris explained to me why they stuck it out.  Once people tried it, they tend to come back!  I checked this claim out by buying a tin.

Sure enough, it worked!  And all without any ingredients I can't pronounce.

Sure enough, it worked! And all without including  any ingredients I can’t pronounce.

I chatted with Kris about this a few months later over coffee.

“I started making deodorant when my daughter was born,” she said in her lively way.  As she explains on her website, whatever Kris put on her body would get on the baby and that made her re-think every product she was using.  Commercial anti-perspirants & deodorants have all kinds of mysterious ingredients she didn’t want her baby to accidentally eat.

It’s easy enough to substitute coconut oil for store-bought lotion.  But what about deodorant?

She started experimenting with a variety of recipes.  Some stung.  Some didn’t work.  One even made people smell worse.

“And then,” she said, “one day we just found it!  It was a God thing.”

Now, people have told me inspiring stories about God helping them do a lot of things and I believe them, but no one ever considers that God might grant such a thing as a good recipe for deodorant.  I suppose that’s a topic for another kind of essay, nonetheless it made me burst out laughing.  I think of that pleasant conversation with Kris whenever I pick up the tin in the morning.

You can get PitStik at a variety of local shops and please contact Kris and Michael if you are the owner of a local shop that would like to carry it.  Check out their website to order or find a shop where you can buy it!

But don't ask a cat.  Cats are utterly unimpressed by the whole idea of odor mitigation.

But don’t ask a cat. Cats are utterly unimpressed by the whole idea of odor mitigation.  They always smell good.

(Note to the FTC:  I bought the first tin of deodorant, but as often happens when I interview our generous local business owners, Kris gave me a second tin to try.  The first one includes hemp oil, but they make a hemp-free version for military patrons.  I haven’t tried that one yet, but I can report, per Federal regulations, that it smells just like the original version.)

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2014

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

 

Five things you didn’t know about Seeds Community Cafe

The conversation went something like this…

Me:  Hey!  Seeds Community Cafe is raising money!  We should help!

Chickens:  Why does Seeds need money?  We thought it was Social Enterprise and would support itself.  Are they having problems?

Stray Chicken says she needs more information.

Stray Chicken says she needs more information.

I admit I had the same questions myself, so I put them to Lyn Harwell, founder and Executive Director of Seeds Community Cafe.  He answered with the same enthusiasm with which he does everything and I learned these five things I didn’t know about Seeds.

Seeds1

1.  Seeds is not a Social Enterprise like Blue Star Recyclers.  It’s a traditional nonprofit, like Care and Share Food Bank or the March of Dimes, and just like any other nonprofit they need to raise money from the community.  Lyn explained that it costs $15,000 a month to run the cafe, but it doesn’t bring that much in.  Why doesn’t it bring in enough to run when lots of people are paying extra for meals?  Because they are buying most of that high quality food we are enjoying.

“Lots of people think our food is donated,” says Lyn, but actually “less than 6% is donated and we buy the rest.”

2.  Seeds does a lot more than serve remarkable dishes to everyone who comes in.  They also train people for employment and help them find jobs.  They helped 15 people find full time work this year!

I’ll just repeat that in case you didn’t catch it.  Seeds helped 15 people find full time work this year.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know how important I think it is to have meaningful work.  I’ve watched the profound effect unemployment has had on friends of mine.  Seeds’ efforts to give a hand up to people who have struggled makes all the difference in the world!

3.  Seeds teaches people how to cook and eat real food.  How many of you have heard me say, “If you can’t cook, we can’t help you!”?  It’s true!  People who can’t cook will struggle with their health (unless they can find someone to cook for them).  If you know the basics of cooking then you can take care of yourself without relying on manufactured “foods”.  You can eat healthfully on a restrictive budget.  You can eat nutritious foods like dried beans and odd vegetables that non-cooks can’t convert into something edible.

Seeds trained 73 people to shop and cook on a budget this year!  The cafe doesn’t pay for that.  It’s our donations that support giving people the tools to duck under the influence of “food” manufacturers and cook for themselves.

4.  Seeds gets 68% of its food from Colorado producers.  I know you’re not surprised that I think this is important, but you may be as surprised as I was at how much food Seeds sources from local growers, bakers and so forth.  I spend a lot of time with people who produce food around here and I can tell you 68% is unusually high.  As you know, that means your donations and patronage of the cafe continue supporting our local economy for a long time after you’ve eaten that meal.

5.  Seeds has a food truck!  Maybe you knew this, but it was news to me.  Sara Crowell and Jo Marini of Fifty Fifty Coffee recently donated The Local food truck to Seeds!  Can you imagine how wonderful a Seeds Food Truck will be?  Donations will get this truck up and running.  I can’t wait!

You know where all this is going, right?  I’m going to ask you to look at your charitable gift budget for 2014 and consider donating to Seeds.  I did (though the chickens insist on taking the credit).  You can donate through Seeds’ Indiegogo campaign or through Indygive 2014.  Or you can walk into the cafe and make a donation right there.

It’s a tough world, full of barriers to self-sufficiency.  Supporting Seeds through donations, volunteer time or just eating a great meal are ways we can all do our part in knocking down those barriers for ourselves and for each other.

And maybe for enterprising chickens too.

Colorado Springs Local Business: Doggi Pawz

As you may have noticed, my dog likes her privacy and I like to respect her wishes.  She doesn’t even like me to write about her, so I’m certainly not going to show you a picture of her in the bath.  It’s one thing to show a three pound chicken in a dustbath, quite another to invade the privacy of an animal with jaws as long as my forearm.

Here is another dog, a very good girl, at the end of her spa appointment.

Here is another dog, a very good girl, at the end of her spa appointment.

I interviewed Susi LaCrosse, manager of Doggi Pawz on Montebello and Academy about the shop.  It’s one of several local shops, including the delightful Peak Place Coffee, owned by the owner of the shopping center.  You can get your dog washed, get a cup of coffee and get your hair done, all without ever leaving the building!

It's a very welcoming place!

It’s a very welcoming place!

Susi or her daughter, Chelsea Harper, will wash and/or groom your dog for you or you can wash him yourself.  This cheerful dogwash is set up with washing stations and drying stations for the intrepid wash-him-yourselfer.

Everybody gets a basket with puppy shampoo, grooming tools and a towel.

Everybody gets a basket with puppy shampoo and a washcloth.  Other shampoos are available and can even brighten up your pet’s coat!

Susi showed me professional versions of my favorite tool for grooming fur-bearing animals, the Furminator.  I didn’t realize professional groomers have access to several different kinds of this tool.  It pulls out a shocking amount of loose under-hair and is a great help to the vacuum cleaner during the spring shedding season.  My cats also have one and they tire greatly of me commenting that they have been planning to make another cat out of all that hair.

Look at this!  Four kinds of furminators.  You really could make another dog!

Look at this! Four kinds of furminators. You really could make another dog!

Dogs can be washed every couple of weeks which, just like with human friends, makes them much nicer companions.

You can also dress up your groomed dog at Doggi Pawz.

You can also dress up your groomed dog at Doggi Pawz.

I’ll run a bit off track at this point in this article.  I interviewed Susi back in June.  Normally, the pictures help me remember what we talked about, but today I found this.

I have no recollection of meeting this animal or what kind of animal he is.

I have no recollection of meeting this animal or what kind of animal he is.

Do you know?

Colorado Springs Local Business Doggi Pawz Grooming

Whatever kind of animal you have who needs grooming, try this friendly local shop.  It’s clean, friendly, locally-owned and, best of all, comes with easy access to snacks!

The addition of this picture is completely gratuitous.  It reminds me how helpful it would be to have a prehensile tail.  But no ... we had to evolve from the OTHER type of monkey.  Oh well.

(The addition of this picture is completely gratuitous. It reminds me how helpful it would be to have a prehensile tail. But no … we had to evolve from the OTHER type of monkey. Oh well.)

 

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2014

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Losing Chickens

We are down to five hens.  We started the summer with nine, but now we only have five.  While I’m finding this quite distressing, it’s interesting to note that the chickens are behaving with exactly the same exuberance they have every day.

We've lost Marshmallow, Redhead, Pumpkin and Specklehead since July.

We’ve lost Marshmallow, Redhead, Pumpkin and Specklehead since July.

You’re probably wondering what happened.  Did they get attacked by those pesky raccoons who have been breaking into the feed buckets?  Did someone finally steal them?

No.  They just died.  One by one, even with the help of the veterinarian, they died on their own.

Marshmallow laid an egg one day and expired.  I found her and the egg in the nest box.  Redhead’s comb turned purple and then I found her one morning by the garden fence.  Pumpkin got some sort of mass in her belly that compressed her digestion.  And yesterday, Specklehead … well, Specklehead hadn’t been eating.  Her comb was pale and she was lethargic.  I gave her some egg to eat, hoping to get some protein into her, and, just like that, she died.

It was quite upsetting.  I’m still pretty shaken up.

I think I understand now why some people don’t want to feel anything about chickens.  They want them to be “just chickens”, entities without feelings or personalities.  As anyone who has ever met a live chicken knows, these things are not true, but if they were then we wouldn’t have to mourn the loss of each hilarious, exuberant bird.

It’s too late for me, though.  I already know the truth and it disturbs me that these little bird-friends whom I talked to and played with and cared for are gone.  In general, these silly animals who try to eat my hat and steal grapes out of my hands live for a powerful flash and then fade out of existence, like lightning on a seemingly clear night.  I know they don’t live long and I don’t want to fear their demise.  I want to understand that the difference between life and death is ultimately out of my hands, that my responsibility is to treat them well and let them be birds, but if a person is to permit her own feelings then every death is going to sting, whether she accepts it as part of life or not.

I miss them and marvel at how the other birds just go on being birds.  They might rearrange where they sleep, but they aren’t any more or less nice to each other today than they were yesterday.  They still stand around preening and come running when I open the door, even though just yesterday they watched Specklehead’s death throes with me.  I see no evidence that they now fear the future or feel that anything is different today at all.

They don’t, but I do.  Sometimes a big brain is no blessing.

Colorado Springs Local Business: Sunday Acacia Park Market

Which farmers markets can you trust to be truly local?

Do you have to ask where this produce came from?

Do you have to ask where this produce came from?

You may recall a recent article on this site about my visit to a popular farmers market where much of the produce had come from other states.  I know of only two markets in Colorado Springs where you don’t have to ask where the produce came from.  You can assume it was grown in Colorado.

The Colorado Farm and Art Market is one of them, but their summer season ended last week.  Who is the other one?

The new Acacia Park Market!  It’s is held every Sunday morning from 9AM – 1PM until the end of October.  Hunt or Gather, our new local-only grocery, sells all the food and you know you can trust them to buy local.  It’s their whole mission!

Hunt or Gather is open most afternoons and you can order produce from local farms through their Buying Club.

Hunt or Gather is located in Ivywild School.  They carry produce, meat, cheese, honey and canned goods.  They are open most afternoons and you can order produce from local farms through their Buying Club.

Acquiring local food for a market is always a bit of a conundrum around here.  We have a limited number of farmers and they have to spend most of their time on the farm during the growing season.  How, we wonder, will we get food for the markets?  Hunt or Gather solves this problem by representing all of the farmers.  They buy produce from our local farms and then Amy and Hillary, the friendly salespeople, get up early on Sunday instead of the farmers.

We locavores sure do appreciate their hard work!

We locavores sure do appreciate their hard work!

I visited the market several times this summer and enjoyed the atmosphere.  A band plays while shoppers shop.  I’ve bought chocolate from Radiantly Raw, coffee from small-batch coffee roaster, Roasted, jewelry from Tecwares and, finally, a meat pie.

It took two visits to get one of these.  The first time they ran out before I could get over there.

It took two visits to get one of these. The first time they ran out before I could get over there.

You’ve got two more weeks to check it out before the season ends.  On Sunday Oct. 19 they’ll have a Pumpkin Patch where you can buy Venetucci Pumpkins and a blood drive that begins at 11AM.  And the last week, Oct. 26, they’ll have a costume parade at noon!  Don’t miss the fun!

And don’t worry about looking for produce stickers either!  All that food comes from right around here.

Megalomaniac Vegetables

What’s the date now?  Oh, yes.  It’s October 14.  I got lost in the calendar for a while there.

We’ve been so busy on the Homestead since mid-August that it may seem we’ve disappeared from view.  But here we are.

Like Buttercup Chicken in the straw...

Disappeared, like Buttercup Chicken in the straw…

Why did we disappear?  Let me show you a picture.

We were completely overwhelmed by food.

We were completely overwhelmed by food.

You may recall that in August I wrote about the Most Important Reason to Eat Your Vegetables, which is because of their megalomaniacal tendencies.  We did our best, but the vegetables took over and we’ve spent the last eight weeks trying to roust them out of the house and into their jars.

Chard is a challenge.  It's a perennial, coming back year after year, unbidden and without mercy.

Chard is a challenge. It’s a perennial, coming back year after year, unbidden and without mercy.

We canned at least a hundred pounds of tomatoes.  We made pickles and dried apple chips.  We ate all the grapes we could stomach.

The chickens were helpful in that last activity.

The chickens were helpful in that last activity.

The season is starting to wane and we may soon be able to reclaim the house and return to our normal activities.  The garage is no longer infested with apples and the tomatoes have vacated the living room.  I’m glad because I interviewed several interesting business owners before the onslaught, such as Chris of Pitstik, a miraculous locally-made deodorant and Susi who manages the dog wash Doggi Pawz.  I have good stories to tell.

But first …

But first, a nap.

But first, a nap.

See you soon.  And keep an eye on those vegetables.  You never know what they might be plotting.

A Recipe: Corn and Tomato Salad

Is raw corn supposed to be edible?  I have no idea, but when corn shows up in the CSA share, that’s how I eat it.  I like it raw.  It’s crunchy and sweet and I don’t burn my fingers.

These pretty vegetables came in my Arkansas Valley Organic Growers (AVOG) box last week.

They're delicious AND they make a nice picture.

They’re delicious AND they make a nice picture.

I’d like to tell you something about corn.  Notice how in the picture one end is cut off of each ear.  That’s because organic corn gets something called earworm pretty often.  It’s also referred to as tipworm.  These are moths and the little worms you sometimes find are moths-to-be.  They eat the tip of the corn and turn it into mush.  I remember my mother searching through corn in the grocery store to check for this and discarding any ear that had bugs.  Since then, better pesticides have made it possible to sell corn without earworm, but if you’re reading this blog then you’re probably not a big fan of poisonous chemicals on your food.

Beki from AVOG says, “The worm in your corn is your organic certification”.  That’s exactly right!

The earworms won’t hurt you and frankly, I view them as a free chicken treat.  Just cut off the mushy end, wash your corn and it’s like the bugs were never there.

Anyway, on with our recipe!  My CSA box also came with some sorrel.  I forgot to take a picture and the sorrel is gone now, but I can describe it.  It’s a long leaf that tastes like lemon.  Sorrel is one of my favorites.  You can grow it easily in your backyard too.

I took these three ingredients and made up the following recipe!

Ingredients:

2 ears of corn, husked, tipworm damage removed and washed
10 small tomatoes or one big one, washed and cored
a handful of sorrel leaves, washed and stems removed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and the sorrel into strips.  Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife.  You can do this by standing it on its cut end and cutting down in rows.  Watch your fingers!

Mix all ingredients together with as much or as little salt as you like.  You can add pepper too, if you like that sort of thing (can you tell I don’t like pepper?).

Serve and eat!  No burnt fingers!

Colorado Springs Local Farm Hungry Chicken Homestead Corn and Tomato Salad

 

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© 2014 Hungry Chicken Homestead

Want to read about locally owned businesses in Colorado Springs? The chickens want to tell you about them! Join them in supporting our local economy by signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter!

Recipe: Gluten Free Plum “Clafouti” Cake

It’s really nothing like the cherry clafouti recipe I found on the Martha Stewart Seasonal Cooking website.

But, like so many things, it gave me ideas.

But, like so many things, it gave me ideas.

I’ve got a whole lot of plums in my refrigerator right now.  Maybe you have the same problem.  I ordered an Austin Family Farms Fruit Share this year and even though I gorge myself on fruit every day, I still have more in the refrigerator.

Ok, yes … I’ve had worse problems.  But still, I don’t want to waste the fruit and I went looking for recipes.

A “clafouti” is a kind of French custard pie.  The custard is poured over cherries and baked.  I liked this idea for two reasons:

  1. I could put my surplus fruit in it.
  2. I could use a lot of eggs.  I had 26 at last count and the chickens are out there making more right now.

The only problem was I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making custard.  Luckily, I remembered a really good gluten free pumpkin muffin recipe from Mark Sisson’s book, the Primal Blueprint Cookbook and thought I could try using the same base.

Want to know what I came up with?  Here it is, but remember, you can modify it as you see fit.  As always, I made this recipe up!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs
10 plums

Chop up five plums.  Squish them around with your fingers into a kind of lumpy puree and then measure out half a cup, making up any shortage with the juice.  (You can puree them with a loud machine if you want.  I just don’t like loud noises or extra dishes).

Mix the coconut flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a big bowl.  Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup and eggs in a separate bowl.  Then mix them together.

(Honestly, I’m too lazy to use two bowls.  I mixed the liquid ingredients right in with the dry ingredients and it worked fine).

Mix well and pour the batter into a parchment paper lined pan.  A 9 inch pie pan would work.

Slice the rest of the plums and lay them on top of the batter.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until the batter in the middle is just set.  If you let it get solid in the middle, the outer edges will get dry and burn.  I don’t know how long that takes because I cooked mine on the grill, with one burner at medium and the other side on low.  The cake baked on the low side for about 40 minutes while I weeded the garden.

Cool and serve.

 

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© 2014 Hungry Chicken Homestead

Want to read about locally owned businesses in Colorado Springs? The chickens want to tell you about them! Join them in supporting our local economy by signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter!

 

Kale Salad with Nutritional Yeast

I’m suddenly addicted to kale salad.  It’s the nutritional yeast’s fault.  This has happened before with recipes made with nutritional yeast.

I got this recipe by being in the right place at the right time.  I was chatting with Arlene of Blue Skies Organic Vegetables when a paramedic came by.  Nothing was wrong with anyone, he just wanted to buy some kale.

“I make it into a salad by massaging nutritional yeast and some other ingredients into it,” he said.

This gave me ideas.  I came home, picked some kale out of the garden and gave it a try, landing on the recipe below.  If you have little kids, get them to wash their hands because they are going to like this…

Colorado Springs Local Farm AVOG Kale

Ingredients:

(Remember, I made this up and you can change the proportions.  Add more or less of anything you like.)

a bunch of kale
a tablespoon of olive oil
a tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. Get those little kids to mix everything with their hands, squishing the kale as they go.  That softens the kale and helps the rest of the ingredients get into the curls (if it’s curly kale).  Make sure everything is evenly mixed and serve!

Colorado Springs Local Farm Hungry Chicken Homestead kale salad nutritional yeast

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© 2014 Hungry Chicken Homestead

Want to read about locally owned businesses in Colorado Springs? The chickens want to tell you about them! Join them in supporting our local economy by signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter!