Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Girls are Finally Laying!

The ten chicks David came home with last April, along with the four additional ones I bought, have been whittled down to eleven. One of the Rhode Island Red chicks died when it was about a month old (it was a puny thing, and I don't think its digestive tract was very well formed), and we found homes for the two Rhode Island Red roosters.

If you've ever had an RIR rooster, you'll know what a great yard boss they can be. But we kept the Buff Orpington rooster because he was a bit gentler with the girls and he doesn't make quite the noise they did. In our neighborhood (lots are five acres) we felt our neighbors would appreciate the quieter bird as well.

But now the girls (four Buff Orpintgons, four Auracanas, and two RIRs) are finally laying, and we're getting about 3-6 eggs a day. While the eggs are mostly small (though some of them are medium sized by now), and we're used to eating fresh large eggs from a local producer, we still are getting a few more eggs than we can use in a week.

With the fall coming on, and the inevitable reduction in laying that will occur over the winter, I've chosen to freeze the eggs for later use. No, I did not freeze them in the shell, but cracked them into the individual slots of a ice cube tray.

(Yes, those are pumpkins, which I'm going to bake today and freeze the pulp, or figure out how to can, since I've never done pumpkin before).

Here's a closer view of the frozen gems:

Supposedly these egg cubes will work just as well as fresh eggs in baked goods as well as scrambled or fried. We'll see!

I'm guessing this would work just as well when you find eggs on sale and you can't pass up six dozen and don't exactly know what to do with them all. But I'll post an update when I actually use them to let you know how well they hold up as compared to fresh eggs.

But now, for a recipe. When I was in college, I roomed with a girl who grew up in Brooklyn and who had all kinds of recipes I loved. Her chicken and dumplings were to die for! I mean, who knew that Bisquick could taste so good? Of course, my palate has changed, and I don't eat Bisquick any longer, but one of the ways she ate eggs struck me as interesting and remains one of my favorites.

She simply cracked three-minuted eggs over buttered toast, poured a bit of melted butter over the whole thing, and finished it off with fresh cracked pepper. Yikes! It was delicious! But my internal food snob had to tweak the recipe to make it not only more nutritious but also more visually appealing. Here's what I do.

Broccolini and Eggs
Serves 2

Four strips turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 small red onion, chopped
Two garlic cloves, sliced
Five stalks store-bought broccolini, or half a pound of fresh picked from the garden, trimmed and chopped
One small zucchini, quartered and sliced
Half a yellow bell pepper, diced
Two or three leaves of Russian kale, washed and thinly sliced
Two large Roma tomatoes, diced, or half a cup of homemade dried tomatoes in olive oil
Four pieces of buttered toast (I use nine grain bread) or a slice of buttered flat bread, toasted and cut into bite-sized pieces
Your choice of hard cheese, grated, a tablespoon per plate
Four eggs, soft-boiled to your preference of doneness

Cook the bacon and set aside to cool; break into bite-sized pieces. Saute the onion in 1/2 T. butter and 1 T. EVOO until soft. Toss in the garlic and soften it for a minute. Add the broccolini, zucchini, and bell pepper, and don't overcook it. Toss in the kale and tomato and give it another minute or two. You don't want mush, you want lightly but adequately cooked vegetables.

While the vegetables are cooking, toast the bread and butter it and using a large chef's knife, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Lay that in a serving bowl (I use a restaurant-style salad bowl) and divide the bacon and vegetables up between the two bowls. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of hard cheese (I like organic kosher Parmesan) and set aside.

Cook your softboiled eggs the way you like them. Crack the shells and scoop the eggs on top of the bread-vegetable mixture. If you must, drizzle a bit of melted butter on top, or use a bit of the olive oil from your homemade dried tomatoes. Finish with a healthy grind of fresh black pepper, or a few squirts of Sriracha hot sauce.

This makes an excellent meal any time of day, but we particularly enjoy it for a quick weeknight supper.