Carl White's Life in the Carolinas

Chickens and Eggs

by Suzelle Sinclair
suzelle.sinclair@earthlink.net

“The egg can be your best friend if you give it the right break.”

~Julia Child

I have always marveled at the versatility of eggs. Boiled, poached, fried or over-easy, an egg is delicious solely by itself. It also makes a wonderful addition to many dishes. But I find no dish more fascinating than the omelet. Because you can use almost any ingredients in an omelet, it allows for great culinary creativity.

I have yet to master the art of the omelet. I am so impressed by my friend Tim’s perfection of this dish. No matter what ingredients he uses, his omelets truly are a work of art. They are perfectly cooked, no brown spots, never runny and fold into the perfect crescent every time. Mine, however, are most often pan scrambled, yet equally delicious.

There is nothing better than a farm fresh egg. Their rich flavor is highly superior to the store-bought variety, in my opinion. While there are many farmers that sell these at local markets, I truly enjoy going to the farm. There is something magical about visiting the barnyard animals, including of course the chickens, that makes eggs taste better. Or perhaps it is simply my love of driving on Carolina country roads that creates this magic. As you travel the backroads you are guaranteed to see signs for “Fresh Eggs.” If you are less inclined to wander, you can locate a local farm near you at www.localhens.com.

My favorite beekeeper, Sam, who you might remember from a previous column, Bees and Blueberries, introduced me his neighbor, Mrs. Allen. It is always a pleasure visiting with her and while her chickens appear normal size, their eggs are extra large. She has a variety of chickens that lay brown, white and even green eggs. All are equally delicious and have rich orange yolks that are most flavorful. Mrs. Allen tells me that the color of the shell is determined by the breed of chicken. “Brown hens lay brown eggs.” she cheerfully explained. As I picked up a green egg and looked around, she pointed out a white chicken with beautiful black speckled markings. “That is a Swedish Isbar. She laid that one. And, no, she’s not green,” she said with a laugh.

Regardless of the shell color, all the eggs from Mrs. Allen’s hens are equally delicious. She explained that while the breed determines the shell color, it is what the chicken eats that determines the flavor and color of the yoke. Mrs. Allen’s free-range chickens enjoy the outdoors and in addition to their feed they enjoy eating organic foods like seeds and bugs. “Happy birds lay more delicious eggs,” she said with a smile.

“Today I am going to need and additional dozen,” I told her. “My sister, Renee is coming to visit and deviled eggs are one of her favorites.”

When I arrived home, I made the deviled eggs. As I popped one of them into my mouth, I remembered what Mrs. Allen had told me. I smiled and said to myself, “this is what happiness taste like.”

Helpful Hint: Determining an egg’s freshness

Farm eggs don’t have an expiration date on the label. To determine the freshness of an egg, place it in a bowl of water that covers the egg. If the egg sinks and lays on the bottom of the bowl, it is fresh. If it floats, it is expired.

 

Mama’s Deviled Egg Recipe

Ingredients

•              8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

•              4 tablespoons mayonnaise

•              1 teaspoon of vinegar

•              1/8 teaspoon salt

•              1/8 teaspoon pepper

•              Smoked Paprika, if desired

–     Place eggs in a pan of water. The water should completely cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes.

–     Peel the eggs once cool and cut them lengthwise in half.

–     Slip out yolks and mash with fork. Stir in mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper.

–     Fill whites with egg yolk mixture, heaping it lightly. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

CHARLOTTE WEATHER