People think I’m kidding when I tell them the only eggs my family eats are the cracked ones. But it’s true.
Yes, egg production from the hens on the hill kicks in for the spring equinox, but still the dozens fly out of the shop. Just the other day Margaret emailed to reserve two dozen and sent along a beautiful photo (hanging in the shop) of last year’s eggs decorated for Easter with swirls and swoops of sepia. How could I turn her down? There just never seem to be enough eggs … and yet, when our Easter chicks arrive, there’s a promise of more good eggs to come.
During Rent-a-Peep week, I need to keep life simple because after farm tours, chick care instructions, breed descriptions, and packing and organizing supplies, I have a hard time telling my Aracaunas and from my Australorps. Yesterday, I was solo. Marina’s in Belgium, Richard’s in Brasil, Aunt France was here for two days but had to go home to Philadelphia, and Paul went sailing. I could handle the customers and the chores, but what would I do about dinner – Good Friday dinner?
The KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) evolved as the day progressed. I started weeding early in the strawberry patch and noticed an abundance of robust, frilly rosettes of Maxatawny dandelions. I could just pull them up and feed them to the chickens, like all of the other weeds, or, I could try the Pennsylvania German spring tonic of Dandelion Greens and Hot Bacon Dressing. Ding-ding-ding, my Catholic upbringing started sending out signals: “Good Friday, no Meat. Good Friday, no meat.”
Well, OK. So, there has to be another way to prepare dandelion greens – minus the bacon. I thought about it while I picked and pulled, taking a break now and then to greet customers. As the day went on, I realized a bag of dandelion greens would not a dinner make. What to do? What to do? There is always Chinese takeout … then I recalled a woman at February’s PASA conference talking about eating local and switching to a different attitude: Eat what you have, not what you “want”.
That’s where the cracked eggs come in. I had three of them in the frig. Ping the duck is laying again, so I could use one of her eggs to make a four-egg frittata. But how to jazz it up? I noticed the fresh spring growth on the herb garden chives. And sorrel, those leaves are the first to come up as the snow melts. Arugula – one of the chores on my mental to-do list was to thin the arugula. I’d toss in some arugula too! What cheese would be good with the herbs, yet not overpower them? My weeding brain was in overdrive. Then, it came to me. I had two partial containers of plain Stonyfield yogurt – well, actually only the dregs. I decided to pour the soupy leftovers through cheesecloth and a strainer to separate the whey from the solid. The whey is used to ferment veggies and the solid becomes a super creamy, mild yogurt cheese – perfect for my frittata.
After a day of meal-making in my mind, I must say the end result came together quickly in the kitchen. It was the fluffiest frittata I’ve every made and a healthy side of a “messa greens” reminded me of my years in Charleston, S. C. Fresh, local, oh so simple, and as good as I could want.
Sauteed Dandelion Greens
4-8 cups (approximately) of dandelion greens
1/3 cup olive oil
4-6 Picasso shallots, sliced
A couple shakes of dried hot red-pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste
I had never picked dandelions to eat before. Everything I read said to do it BEFORE the flowers developed, which is now, because after blossoming the greens are too bitter. Of course, you want to pick dandelions that have not been treated with pesticides. Remove roots from dandelions and place greens in salad spinner. Rinse well. (I probably gave them a half-dozen rinses just to get all of the soil and straw off.)
Heat sauté pan and add olive oil, shallots and pepper. Stir and sauté until golden. Add dandelion greens. They will wilt and shrink in volume almost immediately. Keep stirring and sautéing for a minute or two. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
Fleur-de-Lys Cracked-Egg Frittata
2 tablespoons butter
4 fresh eggs
Handful of freshly snipped herbs (whatever you have in the garden)
1/3 cup “yogurt cheese” (see above)
Melt butter in frying pan. Whisk eggs, herbs and yogurt cheese, and pour into pan. Cook on medium heat, lifting edges with a spatula to cook the runny mixture. When eggs are almost done, except for the top, remove from heat and place in oven with broiler on. Toast the top until firm and golden.
Llama Beans: We still have a few bags left to heat up your compost pile. Stop by.
Honey of a Deal: We’ve got a batch of Milk and Honey Farm honey for sale in the shop. Local honey at its best. $5 a pound.
Written on Slate: Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food. – Frank A. Clark
Happy early spring eating! And, as they say in Belgium and Brasil: “Kisses”.