The Secret Ingredient by Bud Schaetzle [epub | 41,82 Mb] ISBN: 1501173529

  • Full Title: The Secret Ingredient: Recipes for Success in Business and Life
  • Autor: Bud Schaetzle
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books
  • Publication Date: December 4, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501173529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501173523
  • Download File Format | Size: epub | 41,82 Mb
Download Link



Gigi Butler of Gigi’s Cupcakes shares her personal success story, her hard-won business acumen, and the life-changing inspiration that she’s gained from a challenging life. Each chapter includes a delicious dessert recipe for cupcakes and more!

As a young child, Gigi knew that if she wanted to succeed, she had to work hard and offer a service that people wanted to buy. At age seven, she sold eggs out of her little red wagon to neighbors. At age fifteen, she bought cleaning supplies and started a cleaning service out of her rural California home.

When she moved to Nashville at nineteen, she had her heart set on becoming a country music star. She cleaned houses by day and took every singing opportunity she could find by night. But when she found herself still doing the same thing at age thirty, she realized that God had better plans for her. If she wouldn’t be a successful singer, she decided she would grow a business that she could be proud of.

An extraordinary baker throughout her life, she decided to open a cupcake shop with all the money she could pull together. With the help and support of her family, she was able to open her first store in a prime Nashville location. The news of her cupcakes spread quickly, and the franchise became a huge success.

In The Secret Ingredient, Gigi shares how her failure led her to explore her passion for baking and how she became a successful businesswoman. With spunk and humor, she weaves her hard-won wisdom and business acumen into the fun, fascinating, and instructive stories of her life. Each inspirational chapter concludes with a treasured family recipe for cupcakes and other scrumptious desserts.

For anyone with big dreams, Gigi’s message is simple: believe in yourself, walk with integrity, work hard, and trust in God. Your life may not turn out exactly how you expected or hoped, but it will be so much better than you could have ever imagined.


Editorial Reviews


“Butler’s memoir provides an encouraging argument for the value of chasing dreams.” (Publishers Weekly)

"Hardworking, giving up everything to chase her goals, and then starting over again… Gigi Butler is the
embodiment of the American Dream. The inside look at her success story in The Secret Ingredient will
inspire savvy entrepreneurs to invest in their own dreams.” (Daymond John, star of ABC’s Emmy Award winning business show Shark Tank)

“With its conversational tone, this memoir reads like a chatty mentor sharing helpful advice and the occasional personal anecdote . . . there’s plenty to learn from Butler’s experience.” (Booklist)

"My first Gigi’s cupcake was an experience I will always remember. Those cool and beautiful cupcakes enticed me and those flavors stole my attention forever! When I eventually met her in person, it all made sense… Of course such a stunning and inspirational woman created those delicious cupcakes! Gigi came to Nashville as an aspiring musician and she just wanted her creative energy to shine. Her personality and story is much like mine. I came to Nashville for the same reasons, but ended up as an executive in the music business. That creative side of us both carried over into what we would become. Me, a record producer, and Gigi, an entrepreneur who got her start cleaning the homes of Nashville’s best. If you ever need to feel inspired by a dreamer, this is a must read."

  (Tony Brown, music producer)

About the Author

Gina “Gigi” Butler opened her first Gigi’s Cupcakes location just off of Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2008. Today, with ninety-four locations and counting, Gigi’s is the largest cupcake franchise in the world. As the chief brand officer, Gigi spends her time bringing her treasured family recipes to life in the array of dazzling and delicious cupcakes and cakes baked fresh daily. A talented hostess and mentor, Gigi spends much of her time traveling to new and existing Gigi’s locations to spread the joy and happiness of Gigi’s Cupcakes. The Secret Ingredient is her first book. 



iful cookbook for foodies and feeders who wonder why breakfast has to be out of a box. It’s for people who love exploring diverse foods, those who get a kick out of hosting friends and family, and those who like making food look pretty on the plate.

Through inspirational food and gorgeous photography, it explores what breakfast is and what it means to people around the world. From Hawaiian Loco Moco and Russian pancakes, to Spanish churros and New York bagels, it surprises with the foreign and delights with the familiar.

With over 90 delicious recipes and cocktails for perfectly plated breakfasts, more complex dishes for seasoned cooks and recipes with a great story behind them, SymmetryBreakfast will make you hungry, cheer you up and change the way you think about breakfast.

This book is divided into (approximate) time zones, starting with my and Mark’s home in London, and working west around the world. Recipes from the UK, Portugal, Morocco and Nigeria sit together in the first chapter. In a narrow strip running from Pole to Pole, millions of people wake up at roughly the same time – across continents, religions and seasons – to have breakfast. Whatever breakfast means to them. I wanted to pull together recipes and organize them in a way that would make sense, but also make none.



About the Book

List of Recipes


Title Page


Somewhere in the World it’s Breakfast Time


United Kingdom, Portugal, Morocco, Nigeria, West Africa

Breakfast in Bread: Benny Buns and Shakshuka Buns, AKA The Love Shack

Ogi with Akara: Nigerian Cornstarch Porridge with Bean Fritters

Cassava Porridge

Earl Grey and Plum Compote

Frumenty: Medieval Porridge with Beer

Nutty Slack: The Greatest Cereal in the World

Pastel De Nata: Egg Custard Tarts

M’smmen: Crispy Moroccan Pancakes

The Ulster Fry


Brazil, Venezuela, Dominican Republic

Cachitos: Venezuelan Ham-Filled Croissants

Jugo De Avena: Oat Juice

Panquescas De Tapioca: Tapioca Pancakes

Pão De Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Breads


Colombia, Peru, East Coast USA


Arepa De Huevo: Egg-Filled Cornmeal Cakes

Baked Oats with Ginger Beer Bacon

Chicha Morada: Purple Corn Drink from Peru

Everything Bagels

Indian Slapjacks

Humitas with Salsa: Peruvian Tamales with Salsa


Mexico, American Midwest, Canada

Fatty Boy Beans

Chicken and Biscuits

Huevos Divorciados: Divorced Eggs

Churros y Jamón Con Cajeta: Churros with Ham and Caramel Dipping Suace


Magic Grits

White Gravy

Cowboy Coffee

Ice Tea South


West Coast USA, Hawaii

Cornflake French Toast

Dutch Puff

Loco Moco

Green Non-Gender-Specific Deity Smoothie


Japan, Australia, Korea, The Philippines

A Japanese Breakfast: Gohan-Shoku, or Salmon with Green Beans and Tofu

Onsen Tamago: Hot Spring Eggs

Okonomiyaki: Japanese Pancakes


Champorado: Filipino Chocolate Rice


Tortang Talong: Filipino Aubergine Omelette

Toasted Banana Bread

Banana Ketchup


China, Indonesia, Hong Kong

Congee and Youtiao: Rice Porridge and Fried Chinese Breadsticks

Congee Express

Matcha Hong Kong Egg Waffles

Nasi Lemak with Sambal: Malaysian Coconut Rice

Sheng Jian Mantou: Shanghainese Breakfast Dumplings

Yuanyang and Hong Kong Milk Tea


Thailand, India, Myanmar

Chole Bhature: Chickpea Curry with Puffed Breads

Idli: South Indian Fermented Rice Pancakes

Khao Niaow Moo Ping with Jaew: Thai Grilled Pork Skewers, Steamed Rice and a Dried Chilli Dipping Sauce

Makhania Lassi: Jodhpur’s Finest White Butter Lassi

Masala Chai: Spiced Tea

Mohinga: Burmese Fish and Noodle Soup

Vada Pav: Spiced Potato Burger from Mumbai


Iraq, Russia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan

Baghdad Baid Masus: Special Eggs from Baghdad

Roht: Afghani Bread

Syrniki: Russian Pancakes

Injera and Fit-Fit: Ethiopian Pancakes and Leftovers

Berbere: Classic Ethiopian Spice

Ye’abesha Gomen: Spicy Kale

Doro Wat: Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew

Mesir Wat: Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Nitter Kibbeh: Ethiopian Spiced Butter

Timatim: Ethiopian Tomato Salad


Eastern Europe, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Libya, The Balkans

Blintzes: Filled Jewish Pancakes

Ful Medames: Egyptian Beans

Burek: Filled Pastries from the Ottoman Empire

Green Shakshuka: Eggs Baked in Greens

Pide: Turkish Pizza

Sfinz: Libyan Doughnuts

Shakshuka: Baked Eggs in Tomato

Ayran: Salted Yoghurt Drink


Norway, Italy, Austria, Algeria, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark

Ontbijt: A Dutch Breakfast

chicken stew, the coffee bean, celebration cakes, best asian restaurants, food recipes,
sting, and lugging wine home after our many vineyard trips. Her enthusiasm for my passion is great and her palate is even better. Many thanks go to my dad, Richard Sr., who after a distinguished career in advertising has published eight books on baseball and football. He showed me the value and power of the printed word, a real gift. Gabby Stone’s help with the research and writing of the wine profiles was invaluable, as was her counsel with editing and making sure I was on point. She is a great friend and true lover of wine. Lacy Kiernan, a very talented young photographer, who agreed to work with me and provide navigational skills in obtaining the rights to our photographs and taking many of the pictures for this book. Her skills are great and I am sure you will be hearing about her in the future. Jessica Murphy, my very dedicated and exceptional assistant, was nearly flawless in her typing and understanding my written word. She never wavered, draft upon draft. Jeff Smith, my co-partner at Hourglass, and our very talented winemaker, Tony Biagi, who made sure that my description of how wine is really made was as crisp as a good Sauvignon Blanc. Susan McEachern and Rebeccah Shumaker, my editor and her assistant, who were steadfast and patient with their advice for me on how to turn this book into a reality. Many thanks to the late Al Hotchin and his colleague Geraldine Tashjian from the Burgundy Wine Company for introducing and teaching a young guy the seductive pleasures of Burgundies. Many thanks to all the vineyards from around the world that provided pictures for this book.



My wine journey started in 1976. I was living with my family in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, in an old house that, like many houses of that era, had to be retrofitted with a bomb shelter and equipped with three weeks of food, water, and provisions in case of a nuclear attack. Once the threat had diminished, these shelters fell into disuse, so my dad lobbed out the question, “What should we do with ours?” It was a dark, dank space that housed a good many spiderwebs and much mold. In the past it had been used as a darkroom for photography, but I immediately shot back, “Let’s turn it into a wine cellar.” My dad, largely a spirits drinker, agreed under duress from both myself and my brother Chip, who was working at a well-known local wine shop (as a part-time job) and who had suggested that he was eligible for great employee discounts. We immediately started filling the cellar and tasting wines from all different wine regions. I felt it would be important for future success if I knew my way around the wine industry, so I plunged in and immersed myself in the myriad of information that was around in those pre-Internet days. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate was just starting up, and his in-depth analysis of wine regions was a big help. I tasted and studied, tasted and studied, starting with Bordeaux, then the Rhône, Burgundy, and other French regions. With every tasting and bottle of wine that I tried, I discovered how much I loved the experience but also how little I knew. At that moment, I realized that wine connoisseurship was not just an open-and-shut wine book but rather a wine journey—an endless stream of vintages, wine varietals, bottle variation, and marriage with different kinds of foods. No two wines are the same, just as no two palates are identical. That is what makes the experience so much fun and immensely rich to share with others.

In 2006, I had the good fortune to co-found the Hourglass Wine Company, when my partners Jeff Smith, Michael Clark, and I purchased a significant yet unbranded fifty-eight-acre vineyard in St. Helena (Napa Valley), California. We subsequently merged with Jeff Smith’s small, four-acre, super-premium Cabernet Sauvignon estate vineyard, Hourglass. Over time we created one of the leading multiple varietal vineyards in Napa Valley. Once I took the plunge from wine lover to wine producer, my journey started reaching new heights.

This book, which is a compilation of my wine experiences over the past forty years, is a primer for all those just starting on their wine journeys. The vineyards that I highlight as benchmark wines are listed not necessarily because they are the most expensive, most prestigious, or most popular, but rather for their unique places within the wine world, and the fact that no wine connoisseur could fully enjoy his or her journey without tasting these wines and having a memory marker as to their distinctive styles. Some are very expensive; some are not . . . the expensive wines should be shared with a group of other wine connoisseurs in much the same fashion as people get together in book clubs to enjoy the stories. You really need only one glass of each of these wines to record the style and taste for your scholarship. Taste and study, tast
curry recipe, summer desserts, gluten free pizza crust, how to make pie pastry, home coffee machines,
Scuppernong Wine came out in 1998, and when Fred Sauceman’s wonderful food travelogues and other Appalachian cookbooks appeared. I read comments about vanishing foodways and a dying culture when John Fleer began to feature Allan Benton’s ham, Cruze buttermilk, and Muddy Pond sorghum on his upscale Appalachian menus at Blackberry Farm in the Smokies. Saving a slice of history was a compliment often paid to the Southern Foodways Alliance’s (SFA) Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South, which I edited in 2005, even though that book featured contemporary stories of the mountains by writers much younger than me: Sheri Castle, Matt and Ted Lee, Tony Earley, and Kelly Norman Ellis among them.

By the time a group of us assembled at former SFA president Elizabeth Sims’s request at the Biltmore Estate in 2008 for an eleven-day celebration and seminar on southern Appalachian foodways, I knew we weren’t talking about a dying anything. The panels featured several Asheville-area farmers and producers in their twenties and early thirties, many the latest in a line of generations of growers in the region. And when a twenty-something Sean Brock—then the fastest-rising star on the Southern culinary scene, making his name with modernist pucks of solidified black-eyed-pea puree with liquid pepper jelly centers—told me that my simple recipe for cornbread was the same as his grandmother’s, and that when he had a restaurant of his own someday, it would always be on the menu, I was deeply gratified but not actually surprised.

It was one of the great unsung pioneers of the contemporary mountain food scene, John Stehling, who zeroed in on what was happening. John and his wife, Julie, opened the Early Girl Eatery in Asheville in 2002 and John, who grew up in the Piedmont, immediately began driving the back roads and up the hollers of the western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee mountains not just to find the best locally raised food, but to talk to the people who made it. “People who come to and from these mountains want to know where they are when they eat,” he said as he and his brother, Robert, the acclaimed chef/owner at Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina, answered questions on a panel. Robert might have the James Beard Award, John noted with a grin, “But outside of seafood, I’ve got truly great local food sourcing way easier than Robert. Restaurants in other places have to start the process a lot of the time. They have to prime the pump by getting small growers to start growing, or encourage large growers to put in some specialties. But here, in the southern Appalachians, it’s always been small farm world. And the farmers here never stopped growing these things. They bring you things you won’t see anywhere else, like this squash, this Candy Roaster. It’s got a flavor that’s deeper, with layers, and you’ll start thinking of something new to do with it, just based on that taste. This place and its food has never died off, and it inspires me.”

And John’s gut-take was empirically validated in 2011, when a study headed by ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan and environmental anthropologist Jim Veteto declared southern and central Appalachia the most diverse foodshed in North America.

“Let’s just go ahead and say it,” Jim wrote. “People across southern and central Appalachia are crazy about plants and animals. In my lifetime of interacting with Appalachian farmers, gardeners and wildcrafting enthusiasts, I have never ceased to be amazed by their knowledge and love for all things green and growing. Whether they save seeds, graft fruit trees, dig roots and bulbs, can foods, harvest wild plants, hunt game or raise heritage livestock breeds, it is a truism that older people and a smattering of younger people across the region have immense wildcrafting and agricultural skills.”

By the spring of 2014, Appalachian foods had become the focus of inventive chefs both in and out of the region. Some were rooted in a genuine understanding of place and history, such as Shelley Cooper then at TerraMáe Appalachian Bistro in Chattanooga. Many were taking adventurous riffs on rooted themes. Sean Brock’s first book, Heritage, out that October, talked as expected about the Low Country cooking he’d made famous at McCrady’s and Husk, but he gave time as well to the foods of his southwestern Virginia upbringing, foods to which he’s since rededicated himself.

And so, with a full tank of gas, I lit out on the highways and byways to discover what else was happening. “So much” was the answer, and I knew pretty quickly that I’d not be able to tell everything. But I took as my model the books that had fired up my own imagination and passion when I first encountered them, the Time-Life Foods of the World series. Like the authors of my favorites of those marvelous tomes—one part travelogue, one part history, one part recipe—I chose to limn certain places, to tell
holiday cakes, fresh coffee beans, oolong tea, gluten free flour, medieval recipes,
ply add ½ cup of broth or water, taste, and add a spritz of lemon juice, pinch of salt, or even fresh herbs if needed. Give it the spa treatment! Toppers (see “Soup Toppers”) are also great to give new life to reheated soups.

weekend jump-start cleanse

The cleanse outlined in this section isn’t an unbendable prescription so much as a detailed suggestion for incorporating more soup into your life. A cleanse is all about rebooting your digestive tract and giving your body a chance to detox and feel good; this will occur (really!) whether you spend a weekend dedicated to the task or just opt to have soup on a more frequent basis.

If you’re going to try a two-day cleanse, my advice is to do it over a weekend or whenever you have two days off from work. You need to see how your body reacts to a cleanse, and the best place to do that is at home, without the added stress of the workplace. Don’t be surprised if a cleanse, by giving your digestion a break, leaves you feeling revitalized, rejuvenated, and energized. The only caveat I’d add is that if you feel a little light-headed on a cleanse, that’s a sign that you haven’t eaten enough. The solution? Have a little more soup. Remember, this isn’t about starvation, but rather satiation.

The schedule is a guideline to how you can mix and match soups to use for a cleanse. These are only suggestions. Once you get the hang of it, feel free to substitute any of the soups in the book that you enjoy in place of those listed on this page and this page. The idea is that, in getting ready for a cleanse, you’d prepare a certain amount of soup. Optimally, that would include one broth, two blended soups, and two traditional soups. Here’s how you utilize them (and again, these are just suggestions; do what works for you): For a snack or light meal, go with the blended soups. For dinner, or if you desire something a bit heartier, try a traditional soup. The broth? That becomes your go-to tonic throughout the day. You can put it in a thermos and sip it like a tea every few hours (feel free to add a spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt). The broths are incredibly nutrient dense, so a little can go a long way. On another note, even a one-day cleanse often yields noticeable benefits, so if you have a day free, go for it!

cleanse tips

Starting your day with a glass of warm or hot water with a spritz of lemon juice will wake up your digestive system.

Eat soup every two hours.

Drink plenty of water and green or herbal tea or broth throughout the day.

Eat two to three cups of soup at mealtimes. If at any point you feel hungry, have broth or more soup.

Give your digestive system a twelve-hour break (from dinner until breakfast). You want your last meal to be three hours before you go to bed for better sleep.

Adding a dash of tamari or fish sauce or a pinch of salt to warmed broth will enhance the flavors. Adding a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary will wake up your senses and make your cleanse more enjoyable.

Take time to relax and do some light stretching or exercise. You should be able to go through all of your normal routines without feeling at all light-headed.



lemon water

1 cup


blended soup

2 to 3 cups


blended soup

1 cup


traditional soup

2 to 3 cups


blended soup

1 cup


traditional soup

2 to 3 cups

Follow the same plan on day two, swapping out the blended soups for the traditional soups if you wish to mix it up.

Here are some of my suggested soups for a weekend cleanse. The broths will serve to keep you nourished and hydrated, while the soups will promote detoxification and regulate your blood sugar.

broths and stocks

Magic Mineral Broth

Thai Coconut Broth

Chicken Magic Mineral Broth

Old-Fashioned Chicken Stock

Immune Broth

Nourishing Bone Broth

Pastured Beef Bone Broth

blended soups

Springtime Asparagus and Leek Soup

Power Green Soup

Golden Beet and Fennel Soup

Kale Soup with Coconut and Lime

Summer Zucchini Soup with Basil

traditional soups

Caramelized Onion Soup with Pastured Beef Bone Broth

Latin American Chicken Soup with Greens

Herby Tuscan Bean and Vegetable Soup


Nana’s Chicken Soup with Zucchini Noodles

Provençal Lentil Soup

Triple Mushroom Soup


A little planning and preparation will set you up for a smooth cleanse. You don’t want to spend the entire two days cooking, but instead relaxing and rejuvenating. This plan is flexible, so don’t feel like you need to do everyth
vegetable smoothie recipes, carlsberg beer, chinese restaurant, shrimp egg rolls, easy dessert ideas,
akes sense, and here’s how. You cook the orzo, about ¼–⅓ cup per head as an accompanying starch, following the package instructions but check a couple of minutes before the pasta’s meant to be ready. Before draining, reserve some pasta-cooking water and when the orzo is draining, melt a little butter in the saucepan, and whisk in a little of the starchy cooking water to help make an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste, tip in the drained pasta, and beat in a sprinkling of grated Parmesan to taste and as much of the pasta-cooking water as you need to make sure the pasta grains are just coated with a lightly flavorsome gleam of sauce.


With this easy orzo, the pasta water comprises most of the sauce, but elsewhere in the book, you will find this technique of holding back some pasta-cooking water to help bind a sauce to the pasta—and it is a particularly Italian technique. Please, promise me that you will get into the habit of doing this every time you cook pasta. Indeed, you should make yourself incapable of draining pasta without first lowering a small cup into the cooking water to remove and reserve some for the sauce.

If it makes your life easier (not too much bubbling away on the stove), when you’re feeding a lot of people, you can follow a pasta-cooking tip from Anna Del Conte: the Vincenzo Agnesi method, which reduces the risk of overcooking and is as follows. Bring your water to a boil, add salt, then tip in the pasta, stirring well to make sure it’s all in and not clumped together. Once the water comes back to a boil, let the pasta cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean, thin kitchen towel (not a waffled-textured one) and clamp on a tight-fitting lid. Let the pasta stand like this for as long as the package tells you to cook it normally. When the time is up, drain the pasta, remembering to remove a small cupful of cooking water before doing so.

My only remaining word of wisdom on this subject is also from Anna Del Conte and it is that the water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean. Contemporary dietary mores could not run more counter to such a recommendation; you, of course, are free to act on my advice or ignore it, as you see fit.


The only time that I am in accordance with the anti-salt brigade is when I cook rice, apart from when it’s in a risotto. What I have mentioned within this book, but not given a recipe for, however, is a non-risotto rice, the black Venere rice from Italy that adds glamour, to be sure, but more important, is easy to cook and has a gloriously comforting aromatic flavor. I haven’t offered a recipe, because you don’t need one, but it would be helpful to have a method. So here goes. For 2–4 people (it will stretch to 4, but I love it left over to make for a very unItalian rice salad, so I cook no less if there are two of us eating) you need 1 cup of black rice to 1½ cups of cold water. Put both in a saucepan (salting if you wish) and when the contents of the pan come to a boil, clamp on a tightly fitting lid, turn the heat down to very, very low, and cook for 30 minutes. If, by that time, all the water is not absorbed, then turn off the heat, remove the lid, drape with a clean kitchen towel, clamp the lid back on, and leave to stand for 5–10 minutes. And you can leave it standing for up to half an hour.

• • •


Before I finally let you into the kitchen, there are a few things I am either honor or (disagreeably) duty bound to tell you, namely:

Always be sure to read a recipe right through before starting to cook.

The (N) symbol above the list of ingredients in a recipe indicates that you’ll find information in the Notes about preparing ahead, freezing, or keeping.

I often use already grated Parmesan, even if it is shaming to admit it out loud. If you want to adopt this bad habit of mine, then do, but please be sure the cheese is fresh Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano from Italy and comes in a resealable container to be kept in the refrigerator.

When you have people coming for dinner, make sure you get any ovens heated or pans of water filled and hot well in advance. I often do this quite a long time before. Once the pasta or vegetable water has come to a boil, I turn off the heat, but leave it with a lid on to keep warm. When it’s time to eat, you can bring the water to a boil again, salting and proceeding with the recipe, without making everyone wait for 40 minutes to eat. (But see also tips for pasta cooking, opposite.)

All eggs used in these recipes are extra-large, organic, though sometimes, where mentioned, I use pasteurized egg white from a carton. Dishes containing raw or partially cooked eggs should not be served to those with weak or compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women, young children, or the elderly, unless you
d infections.

Don’t worry when hens bicker over one nest box or when several sit in it simultaneously—it’s the hen equivalent of women visiting the ladies’ room together.

Roosts can be suspended with joist hangers for easy removal, cleaning, and periodic replacement. Install roosts higher than nest boxes. Chickens instinctively seek roosts as high above the ground as possible. If your nest boxes are higher than the roosts, chickens will sleep—and poop—in the nest boxes.

Nest box curtains are more than just an interior design statement—they offer laying hens the privacy they instinctively seek.


Hens prefer laying their eggs in dark, private places. The desire for privacy is likely an evolutionary adaptation resulting from the need to hide their potential offspring and hatched chicks from predators. Nest boxes inside the coop provide a good measure of security for laying hens as well as a common, clean spot for them to deposit their eggs.

Provide one nest box for every four chickens. These can be at floor level or higher, as long as they are lower than the roosts. Elevated nest boxes, however, free up valuable floor space, as do built-out nest boxes that are external to the coop. A typical nest box size is 12×12×12 inches. Here, the options are limitless: clean, empty kitty litter containers, 5-gallon buckets with a lip, upcycled baskets, and even gutted computer monitors all work!

Because a hen squats when laying an egg, nest box bottoms should be cushioned. They can be padded with a variety of materials, from pine shavings to plastic nesting pads or chopped hay/straw/zeolite blends. Hens seem to enjoy rearranging nesting material, but its more important function is to protect eggs from breaking, not humoring the hens. I don’t use or recommend regular straw due to its propensity to harbor mites and mold and cause crop impaction.

Nest Box Herbs

Adding colorful, aromatic dried herbs to a nest box is a fun way to spruce up the coop. However, despite trendy claims that herbs tossed inside the coop or grown around it offer a multitude of beneficial properties (anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiparasitic, calming, laying stimulant, natural deworming, rodent-repelling, stress-relieving, etc.), they do not. At best, the strong scent may offend some smaller insects, but it does not discourage mites and lice.

A word of caution: fresh herbs should not be placed on nest bottoms where warmth and humidity from a hen’s body can hasten decomposition and encourage mold growth.

Nest box curtains offer laying hens more privacy. Curtains can be made of a variety of materials: cotton blends, old linen napkins, empty feed sacks, and more. They can be stapled to the nest boxes or hung with curtain rods. To facilitate entering and exiting the nest boxes, cut vertical strips into the material from the bottom up.

If possible, hang curtains before new pullets occupy the coop. Older hens that have lived in a coop without nest box curtains may be wary of them initially, but once they have inspected the nest boxes and deemed them safe, they will appreciate the privacy upgrade.

In addition to privacy, nest box curtains have other benefits:

• They keep broody hens and eggs out of view, reducing the likelihood of a laying flock turning into a setting flock. The power of maternal suggestion is strong, and seeing a collection of eggs in a nest is all it takes to encourage others to set.

• They discourage egg eating. It may come as a surprise to learn that chickens will eat eggs out of the nest boxes, a habit that is difficult to break and easily taught to other flock members. The less visible the eggs, the less tempted chickens are to eat them.

• They protect laying hens from pecking and cannibalism by keeping their reproductive parts concealed during egg laying. When laying an egg, a portion of a hen’s reproductive tract momentarily becomes visible as it escorts the egg out of the vent. An innocent passerby witnessing this spectacle may be drawn to the exposed tissue and peck at it, causing injury to the laying hen.


Excellent airflow through the coop is important in all seasons. Install as much ventilation as high up on the walls as possible. This will facilitate the continuous elimination of moisture and harmful ammonia gases from droppings and will introduce fresh air into the coop. For maximum air exchange, place functioning windows on all four sides of the coop in addition to either open gables, ridge vents, a cupola, or large air vents toward the top of the coop’s walls. In cold weather, adjust ventilation based on prevailing winds to avoid drafts on the birds.

Functioning windows not only provide critical air exchange but also maximize natural light inside the coop. Hormones responsible


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *