July 21, 2010

Farm Fresh Eggs

Are farm fresh eggs really better? Really? Even if you buy "cage free, grain fed, organic" eggs at the store?

The first eggs we got last fall, after months of raising chicks, were tiny but we ate them anyway - we had to after all that work. I cracked the egg, the yolk took up most of the inside and it was bright yellow. After scrambling, I had about two bites. That is when I knew that farm fresh eggs are actually better - better tasting, better texture - even if it was just two bites.

I'm sure there is some scientific reason why farm fresh eggs are better, but I'm guessing it's their diet. Our chickens eat the typical chicken feed that I assume all commercially-grown organic chickens eat. We toss them basic scratch - corn, oats and barley - once a day. We also toss them all kinds of kitchen scraps. Grapes, strawberries and blackberries are a favorite. If I cut a zucchini in half lengthwise they gut it (so glad I found a good use for zucchini.) Other kitchen scraps they like include stale bread, cheese, melons, lettuce and penne pasta. Chickens are great garbage disposals. They also eat bugs, worms and slugs - delicious! Watching a chicken chase and snap at a little flying moth is hilarious.

I also think the better eggs have something to do with love. Since the day we moved into the country I have been lobbying for chickens - primarily for the eggs. Jeremy wasn't so sure - primarily because he was worried they'd be loud (they're not), stinky (not if you clean the coop), and the run would be ugly (in the eye of the beholder). What neither of us guessed was how much we would like them. They are funny, especially when they jog, and social. They jump up on my lap and softly chirp at me. Two of them walk right up and "squat" down - their way of asking to be pet, which I always oblige. So I believe that happy chickens produce yummy eggs.

Here is my favorite egg dish. I learned it from my best friend Jana. When she and her husband were living in Samamish, we came up to visit along with a bunch of friends from college (this was pre-kids). Jana, who is a great cook, made us breakfast and even with just plain old grocery store eggs (and a slight hangover) it was fantastic! I've make a few changes, like using flour instead of corn tortillas, but the gist of the recipe is still the same. Jana has some fancy name for it. I just call it chicken tortilla breakfast:

Olive oil
2 large flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
12 farm fresh eggs
salt and pepper
1 c Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
sour cream
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, diced

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Use a very sharp knife to cut the tortillas into 1-inch pieces. Fry the tortillas in olive oil until light golden. Remove to plate. Add more olive oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and cook until done. Remove to plate. Add more olive oil if needed and saute onions until opaque. Reduce heat to medium-low. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the skillet. Gently scrape the eggs with a rubber spatula until eggs start to firm. Add tortillas and chicken. Finish cooking eggs to desired consistence. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese over. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnished with tomatoes, green onions and salsa.

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