Egg creations: Fresh ideas for putting eggs to work
I need to apologize. For months, I have been speaking critically about my girls, all 15 of them.
They have been lazy, consuming more and more scratch daily and overly greedy when I approach the coop with scraps, only to produce a minimal amount of eggs.
I am not new to the seasonal decline of egg production. I just really detest buying eggs at the store. Considering the residence we built for them — it’s an oversized barn-red painted coop with an antique beveled window, patio string lights, multiple roosting areas, nice views and shade trees — I think they should be consistent producers to show their appreciation.
Are my expectations too high? Possibly.
So, yes, I apologize for my winter rants, as spring is now approaching, rain and all, and now the girls are upping their game.
We collect our eggs daily and now have reached such a level of abundance that I feel the need to make up for lost time. So what shall I do with all these eggs? I could eat a fried egg sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner every day, but my family disagrees with this routine.
I loved eggs as a child and could have eaten them for breakfast every day. Scrambled, fried or some type of omelet, I didn’t care. But somehow I married a cereal fan who passed on his cold breakfast habits to our kiddos. They are completely happy with cold soggy grains, whereas I prefer hot breakfasts, eggs in particular.
Growing up, my parents raised chickens for meat production as well as for eggs. We never bought eggs at the store. I assumed eggs were brown, green, pink, blue or a shade in between and usually with some form of imperfection, so you can imagine my surprise when I went to one of my very first sleepovers as a child and was exposed to a sparkling clean, lily white store-bought egg.
I remember the experience vividly. The morning after the sleepover, I walked into the kitchen of my friend’s house and spied store-bought eggs on the counter. I didn’t think much about it until I noticed they were all brilliant white and looked exactly the same.
I was asked kindly how I would like my eggs prepared for breakfast, and I froze. I quickly came up with an excuse to call my mom. I grabbed the phone, pulled the cord around the corner (yes, phones had cords then) and slipped into the office.
As soon as my mom was on the line, I whispered into the phone and explained my situation. My mom giggled. She informed me to be polite and ask for scrambled, and I would be fine.
I survived, but remember thinking as I ate the pale eggs that there was something very different about their color and flavor as compared to our farm fresh eggs. Was this in my head? Was I just being picky? As an adult, I now know the answers and my concerns were valid.
Before my husband and I were able to stay in one place long enough to commit to raising our own chickens, we submitted to buying store-bought eggs. They were nothing special and became just as exciting as purchasing milk. They were just necessary.
Now that we have our own chickens and have become spoiled, I find their eggs to be one of my most cherished ingredients in the kitchen.
Whether I am making something as simple as a fried egg sandwich — again, it’s my absolute favorite! — frittata or crème brulee I am continually amazed at the deep, rich, nutritious orange color they have.
Eggs are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals and are low in carbs. They keep you feeling full, and provide energy without the crash of simple sugars. When I feel an afternoon low developing I reach for a hard-boiled egg and sprinkle a little truffle salt on it, and I am back in the game.
Not only are eggs nutritious, they are equally valuable for lunch, dinner and dessert. So if you are also experiencing an overabundance of spring farm fresh eggs or your neighbors offer you some, don’t turn them down.
Here are some fresh ideas that will keep you egg happy.
Fried egg sandwich: Low and slow, using a non-stick pan, use a little vegetable oil (I like safflower) and fry your egg to perfection with a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper. I prefer over-easy.
Lightly toast and butter two slices of good quality artisan bread, stack and dive in. If the beautiful orange yolk runs down to your elbow all the better!
Other ideas: Breakfast burritos packed with whatever is on hand, French toast, leftover veggie omelets, scrambled eggs on muffins with a slice of cheese and tomato, over-easy eggs atop hash browns and huevos rancheros are just a few of my other morning favorites.
Frittata: A dozen whole eggs work perfectly in a 12-inch ovenproof non-stick skillet. Pre-heat broiler. Whisk the eggs with a little salt, pepper and cream or milk and set aside. If you want cheese, add up to 3/4 cup grated cheese to the eggs.
In the skillet, cook in oil about 12 ounces of whatever vegetable and or meat medley you would like: ham, sausage, potatoes, asparagus, onions, zucchini mushrooms etc.
Add your egg and cheese mixture. Stir the mixture in for a few minutes while shaking the pan to evenly distribute. Let eggs setup slightly and place the skillet under a broiler for 3–4 minutes until eggs are set and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.
Frittata is great to make ahead and eat room temperature for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Other ideas: hard boiled eggs on baby greens with a balsamic dressing, egg salad sandwich, fried egg sandwich, quiche, deviled eggs and egg drop soup.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara with spring peas: Whisk three whole eggs with a pinch of salt, pepper and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese and set aside. Using a skillet large enough to hold 1 pound of spaghetti, cook 5 pieces of chopped bacon in 1/4 cup olive oil until crisp. Cook 1 pound of spaghetti al dente. When spaghetti is done reserve 1 cup pasta water. Add hot pasta to skillet with bacon and oil.
Immediately add in egg mixture while stirring to create a creamy sauce, not scrambled eggs. The heat of the pasta and the olive oil will cook the egg mixture. Add desired amount of hot pasta water to ensure the pasta is moist. Top with more grated Parmesan and spring peas.
Other ideas: Of course, I am fine with any of the breakfast and lunch options for dinner. A few others that might be better disguised as dinner are pad thai, fried rice, fried eggs on pizza (you betcha!), eggs in purgatory, egg casserole, baked eggs on twice baked potatoes and fried egg sandwich. (Are you noticing a trend?)