Do you buy caged eggs? Ages ago I did.
Back in the olden days when nobody was selling free range except at the gate of the farmer’s house, I bought eggs from the supermarket like everyone else did. Then one day I decided that it would be great to set up some raised veggie beds so I could have fresh vegetables all year round. I figured that if I was going to have a veggie patch I should get some chickens so I could feed the scraps to them and use their poo in the compost bins.
My husband, upon hearing all of this, said, “Can’t we just get some metal chicken cutouts and move them around in the yard? Are you sure you want to do this? It could be a lot of work.”
I gave him “the look.” Every woman has a look that says, “hey pal, don’t mess with me or you’re really going to regret it. There will be laundry not done, I won’t feel like cooking. I won’t feel like picking up after you, there will be no smiling and you will be sorry you pissed me off.” I should point out that I rarely ask for much. When I want something, I don’t expect anything but, “yes, dear, whatever you want.”
He looked at me, grinned and then said, “So…, what sort of chickens then?”
I did my research and I wanted chickens that didn’t have a reputation for flying over the fence. I’m not a trained chicken catcher and if I’m honest, I was a bit leery of catching them. I didn’t relish clipping their wings and I didn’t want to have to build a tall fence around their yard. We had quite a few foxes in the area as we lived at the edge of town and backed up onto bushland so we couldn’t let the girls out unguarded. I chose Australorp chickens. They are a deep black with a gorgeous shiny greenish tint in the sun. They’re big, fat and really pretty. Best of all, they don’t fly over the fence and I never had to clip their wings. Yay for that because I’m not a farmer.
On the ever loving net I found a gentleman who raised these chickens for shows and sold the girls that weren’t model perfect. It was good because the chickens and I were sort of the same thing – not quite models. (okay a long way from being models). We drove an hour and came back laden down with two big boxes of chickens. Yes, they made a lot of noise for the first 20 minutes and then they were quiet.
We put them in our new coop where they had to stay for a few days to get accustomed to where they would sleep. They weren’t old enough to lay eggs but they sure did know how to eat. On day 4 I let them out into the fenced area. I could have sat for hours watching them scratch around for bugs and eating the grass. Their social structure definitely has a “pecking order” and the poor girl who decided not to let the top chicken have the bug always got pecked on the head. She learned her place.
In the afternoons I’d work on these veggie beds or potting and I’d let the girls out. They followed me everywhere. They’d clean out the bugs at the bottom of the raspberry canes and the asparagus beds and if I was cleaning out a raised bed and I found a grub – what joy. I’d let them hop in the bed and scratch it all up. They were happy and lots less work for me.
After having had chickens of my own I could never eat an egg from a chicken who was made to suffer in a cage for all of her life. These birds love getting out and scratching in the dirt and rolling in the dust. Each one has a unique personality. Okay, they aren’t people and shouldn’t be given human characteristics – they can be pretty dumb, but they’re alive and deserve a quality life. To make them suffer so we can buy cheaper eggs should make us feel ashamed.
After raising chickens for about a year, I went to the local chicken show and bought this beautiful golden hen and all she wanted to do was to sit in the coop and try to hatch eggs. None of them were fertile because we didn’t have a rooster but that didn’t stop Helen! So, feeling sorry for her I ordered a dozen fertile eggs and had them shipped and Helen sat on them for ages. By this time my husband was quite accustomed to wonderful eggs and only said, “you spoil those chickens – first you buy them an air conditioner and now you feel sorry for a chicken who wants babies. You’re nuts but I love you anyway.” (the air conditioner was only an evaporative cooler – one poor girl died when the temps got over 100F, so I made sure it didn’t happen again. They loved the A/C!)
Then one morning we saw these little black faces poking out from under her feathers. They were so cute.
Apart from the humanitarian reasons for buying free range eggs, free range are better to eat and better to cook with. I’ve taken an egg out from under the chicken – still warm and brought it to the kitchen, then poached it and ate it on a piece of rustic home made bread. There is no better breakfast in the world than that. Chickens that get outside in the dirt get all the nutrients they need, their yolks are a deep yellow and full of flavor. They’re also very entertaining and I swear that watching them for 30 minutes is more relaxing than a nap.
Now, for another egg recipe. How about a dessert omelette? I made a fluffy breakfast omelette for you the other day and this is pretty much the same method. The only difference is how you serve it. It’s very much a soufflé for dummies. You don’t need to butter and sugar a ramekin and you don’t have to worry that the darned thing will collapse. With the omelette you can watch it and when it’s done, take it out and eat it.
This dessert omelette was filled with a banana, passionfruit pulp and whipped cream, then folded over and dusted with icing (powdered) sugar and drizzled with honey. I tell ya, you can’t get better than this. You might not want to serve it to the pope because it’s not as pretty as a soufflé but man it tastes just as good.
Finally, I want to thank you for visiting my blog. I can’t tell you how much your pal-ship means to me. This is my 100th post. It would be much higher if I hadn’t been so unwell last year but hey, life goes on and I’ll play catch-up for a while. I love cooking but even more than that, I love seeing what all of you are cooking too. I’ve become a much better cook because of you.
- 4 eggs separated
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) of sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbs water
- 3 tbs mixed fruit
- butter for frying pan
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tbs icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Whip cream, add sugar and vanilla extract and set aside.
- Place a 20cm frying pan (that can go in the oven) on medium heat
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks but not dry
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale
- Fold whites into yolk mixture being careful not to deflate the whites
- Pour ½ mixture into frying pan and smooth top.
- Cook for 30-60 seconds and then place in the oven for 2-3 minutes until puffed and golden. Set aside to cool while you make the 2nd omelette
- Pour mixed fruit over half the omelette and cover fruit with whipped cream
- Fold omelette over and dust with icing sugar and serve