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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hapa Farm Girl: Eggs

I follow a couple professional and unprofessional cooking blogs/websites, and one of my favorites is Serious Eats. Just like my little Miss Mochi blog, they have an eclectic mix of tastes. They have a regular Canning poster, a Fast Food poster, even a spice hunter. I love having one post be about the best lowbrow hotdogs in the nation, and the next be an in-depth discussion about some culinary ingredient or technique. The juxtaposition really shows what I love about food and culture-- the variety.  Not to mention they have slideshows of the adorable office dog Hambone! What's not to love?

But this isn't just a shameless plug for Serious Eats. One of their more intriguing posts is their weekly In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites. They also talk a bit about urban farming and organic living.  Using this as inspiration, I am starting a Hapa Farm Girl post, talking about my upbringing living in a suburban area with a more rural lifestyle. First topic is EGGS.

I find it so weird that some people don't have fresh produce or eggs. Growing up on 3/4s of an acre, my parents have fresh eggs by the dozen, as well as growing oranges, avocados, tomatoes, rhubarb, even something exotic like cherimoyas. I simply can't imagine eating supermarket eggs. My boyfriend laughed at me when I first moved into our apartment together, and I absolutely would not buy eggs from the market when we were shopping to stock our new pad with food.

"You don't know where those chickens have been! You don't know what they've been eating! Do you know how OLD those eggs are?!"

He assured me that he had never eaten a fresh egg, and had yet to sprout any tentacles.

Plymouth Rock
But the difference between my parent's fresh eggs and supermarket eggs is startling. First off, they were completely different colors, both inside and out! My chicken's eggs are a medley of brown, chocolate, and sea foam green shells, sturdy and nearly impossible to crack one handed thanks to a healthy level of calcium. Inside, the yolk is a fiery dark orange, like a sun.  The contrast between these and the whitewashed, flimsy and bland pale yellow yolks of the supermarket eggs set side by side was unmissable.  I would never trust an undercooked egg recipe with those eggs! Plus my parents make sure the chickens get a variety of food, as well as omega containing flax seeds to boost their egg's nutrition value.  Even the pricey "organic brown free range daily massage and pep talk eggs" from Sprouts were pale aliens compared to my eggs growing up.

Okay maybe the chickens don't get daily massages and pep talks but for the price for a dozen, they should!

Plus supermarket eggs are OLD! Fresh eggs will not hard boil right, and need to sit for weeks before they will do so properly (fresh eggs make great everything else, besides cheesecake apparently also interferes with the cooking). So that means that those supermarket eggs that never have problems boiling must be sitting in a fridge for weeks!

Not to mention, egg laying chickens are probably the easiest farm animals in existence. Their food is cheap, their setups are easy, and they don't require a lot of space. Of course, my parents' have a chicken coop that matches the house (see picture to right) but they are a little over the top. Chickens also make pretty good pets, if you play with them enough you can teach them tricks and they will follow you around.  Some people eat them after they stop laying, but my family has never done this for the follow reasons:
A) its a lot of work to kill and dress a chicken
B) How could we eat Mr. Pants?

*Mr. Pants, was female, but named Mr. Pants because she was a special breed, Cochin, that had feathered legs that looked like pants. My father would point this gender discrepancy and shake his head bemusedly every time we replied "Yep! Her name is Mr. Pants!"

Even at my apartment, I have several pots of herbs growing, and I'm starting some vines this summer, probably cukes and tomatoes.  So when they talk about urban gardening, I smile because I've gone from acre to apartment, taking my garden with me.  No chickens yet (they would be super messy on my patio) but a quick trip to my parents' house solves that.

But can you believe my mom makes me gather the eggs myself from under the chicken butts and wash them myself?!

Pick your own apples and cherries may a fun activity, but don't expect farmers to advertise collecting your own eggs. Broody hens like to sit on their eggs, even if you don't have a rooster.  They peck at you when you try to steal their eggs!

It's a small price to pay for beautiful healthy eggs.

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