Ingredient: Farm Fresh Eggs

Every so often during culinary school, we took field trips. When northern California is your playground, and food your subject, field trips are a pretty exciting thing. We went to Sonoma to learn about wine, of course, and had a gritty, raucous 4 a.m. tour of a fish monger at the end of one of the piers right near our school.

Then there was Pie Ranch. The name alone gets you going, and even though there was no pie because our visit was in January, it was still spring-like there and the bounty was coming alive. The drive south along the coast from San Francisco was breathtaking, and when we arrived we were taken all over the property to pick kale and collect eggs from the chickens. There was an outdoor kitchen where we cooked up a meal with our foraged treats, supplementing our picnic with an array of pates and chicken and cookies we’d made and brought from school. It was the kind of meal that you could think of having as your last.

The eggs that day were the real stand-out to me for their freshness. Our teacher, Frances, raises chickens at her home in Berkeley and kept us regaled of her adventure. I started buying eggs at the farmer’s market in San Francisco whenever I could, and this winter up north I love to buy them at the winter farmer’s market from a boy named Sam. He told me he raises 500 chickens, and he beamed with pride when I told him how much I enjoy his eggs. His label on recycled egg cartons has his local phone number, no area code needed because, well, this is a local venture. A kid who raises chickens in northern Michigan and sells the eggs on Saturday mornings is growing up a-ok.

I’m always shocked when I crack open a fresh egg from the farmer’s market, especially when I’ve been eating typical grocery-store eggs for a while. The farm market eggs stand tall in the frying pan, and the yolk is crazy bright orange. Not to mention the flavor, which is just pure, clean, fresh egg taste.

The basics to know about eggs:

  • Buy local, super-fresh eggs whenever possible
  • Eggs stay good in the refrigerator for up to three months, but performance in baking wanes as whole eggs age.
  • There is no difference in flavor between brown eggs and white eggs. The color difference is simply a matter of the genetic make-up of the chicken, like blonde or brunette.
  • The standard size for cooking is a large egg.
  • To learn lots more about eggs, check out this primer on egg advice at Cook’s Illustrated.

We’re going to make eggs later this week (after we have a Fat Tuesday cocktail), a wonderfully simple dish that’s so delicious you’ll want to add it to your repertoire, whether you’re making a Lenten fast or not.

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11 Comments

  1. Diane Nassir on February 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Being a city girl myself, I first had local farm fresh eggs on a driving trip thru Idaho and the color of the yolk, bright orange was breathtaking and illuminating–and the flavor was beyond divine. When I worked 30 years in Nevada as a public servant, I always tried to find someone who raised chickens for eggs, and bought them that way. Haven’t had one since I retired from NV State Service and moved to NM. I will try farmer’s markets for sure. Love your picture of the farm table with fresh eggs. Peace and Love,

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Love your history with fresh eggs, Diane. And nice to know more about your personal history in Nevada! Let me know how your NM eggs are when you find them!

  2. Antonia Allegra on February 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    As you know, Maureen, we live in a sort-of treehouse. Our neighbor coops 13 chickens, which means we
    are lucky about eggs. It seems just when we need more, Deborah will slide a dozen eggs on the rim of our entry bridge. Great to read this piece…I will share it with Deborah and her “gilrls.”

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      I love your idyll there Antonia, and the eggs just seem so fitting!! Wish I could taste Deborah’s wonderful eggs….

  3. Peggy on February 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Maureen, what a lovely piece! Not only is Sam’s area code unnecessary, you’ll recall from our younger days that the first 3 numbers of a phone number in Harbor Springs were superfluous – we all had “526” so whenever anyone asked for a phone number, you simply gave your last 4 digits. I always thought the small town got too big when they ran out of numbers and had to add a new exchange!

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Ah yes Peg, we love that small-town-no-area code-necessary thing!!!!! Great comment, thankye!!!!!!

      • Roger Toomey on February 21, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        Growing up we didn’t even have to dial (well after we god dial and didn’t call central) the first two numbers, just the last 5. And could do that for several neighboring exchanges as well.

  4. Uncle Dick on February 20, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Sweetheart, your eggs remind about your Jido, Sam. While still a teenager and working hand in hand with him while attending High School, I asked him how he ended up in Lansing, Michigan. In his beautiful broken English, he replied “it was as far as I could go to get away from Nebraska.” I then asked how he travelled to Lansing and he said he did odd jobs from town to town and would eat raw eggs whenever he could get them. That’s my beautiful hero, Sam Abood!

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2012 at 10:58 PM

      Wow Uncle Dick, what a wonderful story about Jiddo–a story I have not heard. Raw eggs! They were no doubt extremely fresh and gave him lots of protein along the way. A beautiful hero–thank you for your beautiful words. Hope you are well and hope to see you soon.

  5. Katie Dyos on February 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    I have beautiful memories of that day at Pie Ranch with you and our culinary class picking rainbow chard and those gorgeous eggs!
    What a truly spectacular day.
    With every entry you write, I love your blog.

    • Maureen Abood on February 20, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      Katie, it was a special day, wasn’t it? And a special year. Thinking of you often–let’s talk asap. Big hug–

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