As part of my ongoing effort to slow down a little and stop stressing out over EVERYTHING, I’m trying to enjoy the simple things in life. Lucky for me, both simplicity and happiness can be found by the carton-full right here in my refrigerator.
Let me just come right out and say it: I love eggs.
And being a food snob, the eggs I like best are fresh farm eggs. The kind with a huge fiery-yolk that stares back at you like a full moon in the middle of the plate.
When farm eggs are available, I eat one every day for breakfast. Almost always sunny-side up or over easy.
Grocery store eggs, I eat lots of ways. Scrambled, hardboiled, poured into an omelet and filled with cheese. But farm eggs I leave intact. Preserving the yolk’s integrity is my way of celebrating its gloriousness.
I eat my morning egg with a half-slice of toast, torn not cut, no butter or jam or anything else to distract from the yolk. And only half a slice of toast because that’s the optimal amount to slop up the yolk of a single egg. A whole slice would give the toast too much weight. This is not about the toast.
Farm eggs taste like goodness and open fields. Rainbows and ducklings. Like the infinity of the cosmos.
Ok, maybe not. But they do taste, well, eggy. Very. Eggy. Like the best possible version of themselves. It’s just like the way fresh farm tomatoes taste in comparison to those bland orangey grocery store tomatoes that never really get fully ripe. Both are tomatoes, but if you compare them, the mass-market tomato tastes like a watered down version of the farm tomato. I prefer both my eggs and my tomatoes at full flavor.
The color of the yolk is the result of what the chicken has been fed. Factory chickens are usually fed wheat—which produces a light-colored yolk. Chickens that lay dark yellow yolks are usually corn fed. (I’m not sure what a chicken factory looks like, but I assume the worst: a chicken tenement house with dim lighting, cages stacked 30-feet high, narrow aisles, chickens gasping for breath in the stale air)
For me, the right answer here is to give the chicken a diet closest to what it would have eaten in the wild. And when I think about pre-domesticated chickens roaming around and what they would have stumbled upon to eat—I think seeds, acorns, some bugs, the remnants of a few wild fruits and vegetables. Corn wins for me because it seems closer to this natural diet. Wheat would only be available to those chickens habituating wild in, say, Kansas.
(This reminds me of Chef Dan Barber’s TED talk about sustainable fish farming—and how he found out that one supposedly sustainable fish farm feeds its fish chicken meal. “After that conversation, the fish tasted like chicken,” Barber says. I now consider wheat-fed chickens to be the Wonder Bread of eggs.)
Each morning I sprint to the kitchen and fry my egg in my favorite pan. I add the tiniest bit of butter so it won’t stick, but not enough to taste the butter.
When the white is just cooked and the yolk is still runny, I slide the egg onto my plate and tear my toast half in half again. With a toast piece in each hand I confront my egg. I feel a tiny shiver of excitement as a corner of toast punctures the yolk.
I submerge the toast bit in my right hand deep into the golden liquid—and use the toast bit in my left hand as a pusher. I eat some of the yolk first, then the white—and then the remaining yolk. I only pick up a fork after the toast is gone. When no one is with me—or when I forget that people are with me—I make satisfied uummmm sounds.
Many Peaks Island families have their own chickens. We don’t have chickens because I can barely keep up with work and life—and chickens to feed in the winter would probably push me over the edge. But thanks to the Weiser family, who sell eggs at their cottage on the island from their mainland farm, I have a farm egg source that I can walk to all summer long.
The Weisers place cartons of eggs that come from their farm into a mini-fridge that sits next to their cottage porch.
You can walk up any time you like, take a carton of eggs and deposit three dollars into the mailbox. It’s a fast and painless transaction (No account or a password that you will never remember required.)
The Weiser’s egg cartons are a miss-matched collection. They are all reused cartons obtained from various grocery stores. I feel good when I return my own empty egg cartons to the Weisers for refill. It’s the circle of life…(cue Lion King music).
The best thing about the Weiser’s eggs is that none of them match. Because different types of chickens lay different types of eggs. The eggs in my carton are a mix, brown, white and every tone in between. Sometimes, but not today, there are light green eggs that look like they’ve been dyed for Easter. The eggs come in lots of different sizes and shapes too. Short and squat. Long and narrow. Sometimes the shell is bumpy at one end.
In comparison to farm eggs, grocery store eggs look like they came off of an assembly line. I guess that’s why they call it factory farming. Now that I think about it, the homogeny of every egg being so close in color, size and shape, it creeps me out a little.
Thank goodness for the Weiser family. And for all the little niceties of life.
So how do you like your eggs? Share the egg love with a comment below…