Morning Musings

Some of my morning time, especially when it’s still dark outside and wandering through the garden isn’t an option, I spend time catching up on some of the interesting and entertaining blogs I follow. This morning, while browsing, I opened up one from Smitten Kitchen that had an interesting sounding recipe for Buttery Herb Gruyere Toasts that were served with soft-boiled eggs. This sounded pretty tasty so I made a note to come back to it.

After reading for a while I decided to take another look at the Gruyere Toasts recipe and check to see if I had the ingredients on hand. I did, so I mixed together the ingredients and popped the Buttery Toasts into the oven. As the incredible smell of the toasts filled the kitchen I carefully cooked up a couple of perfect soft-boiled eggs. Now the moment of truth. Would the toasts taste as good as they smelled? Would the eggs be soft, silky and delicious?

I sat down with a cup of coffee and a smile on my face to enjoy my creation. Just as I had hoped the combination of the toasts and eggs lived up to my expectations.

As I enjoyed the perfect combination of eggs and toast  my mind wandered back my freshman year of high school at Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, CA. Not because I remembered fixing eggs and toast for breakfast then but because this is when I raised laying hens for my Ag class project.

I remember my hens fondly. They were Plymouth Rocks and would come running whenever they got a glimpse of me. I’d like to say it was because they liked me and where happy to see me but the truth be told, they thought I was bringing them something to eat and they were anxious to see what it was. Sometimes I was just bringing mash we bought at the feed store but other times it was scraps from the kitchen. They never discriminated they were just as excited with one as the other. Those girls just loved food.  I have never forgotten those silly hens and how much I enjoyed them even though some parts of their care wasn’t that much fun. Cleaning their coop comes to mind.  Sometimes I think about getting a few hens to keep but my yard is very small and I know the girls and I would not see eye to eye on what was OK to eat from my garden and what was not. Not to mention what was scratched from the earth in their search for tasty morsels.

Thinking on the hens reminded me of the Farmarettes (yes that was really the name), a club girls attending Ag classes could join during those days.  My yearbook  states we were; “a very active organization that held sno-cone sales early in the fall and took many field trips to various places where we viewed many different phases of agriculture and farming”. It also states that the highlight of the year, “something that the girls will long remember, was the Farmerettes initiation”. Really? I don’t remember anything about an initiation or selling sno-cones. Not saying I have a perfect memory but you’d think I’d remember something that was supposed to be so much fun.  I do, however, remember learning how to judge and show pigs, sheep and pigs. I used to remember the names of the breeds we studied but as the years have passed most of them have faded away. I only took the Ag class that year but I remember more from it than from many of the other electives I had during my high school years.

This picture (scanned from my yearbook) was taken of our Farmerette group learning about showing and judging beef cattle. Yes, we still wore dresses in those days, even when we were judging cattle. The girl with very short hair standing to the left of the instructor is me.

Times may have changed but my love of soft-boiled eggs with a crisp piece of toast to dunk in the warm runny yolks hasn’t. That brings me back to the post from Smitten Kitchen that I want to share with you all. These toasts are easy to put together, versatile and delicious. If you love savory, crispy bread, give them a try and while you’re over on Smitten Kitchen’s site browse some of her other posts. I’m sure you’ll agree there’s lots of delicious ideas there.

Other egg breakfast recipes from Annie:

Crab omelette

Martha’s Mom’s Crustless Quiche

Eggs Side by Side


Eggs Side-by-Side

This Sunday is Easter and many of you will be buying eggs to color and perhaps fix for Easter breakfast. Do you know where the eggs you buy come from? Do you know what the hens were fed and how they were housed?

Some hens are raised in cages and are fed a blend of grains, soybeans, and vitamins. They lay eggs whose yolk is light yellow in color. I won’t even go into some of what I consider less than savory practices of raising chickens this way. This is where the vast majority of the eggs you can purchase at your local grocery store come from. Don’t assume that the eggs you purchase at the Farmers’ Market are not raised this way. Ask what the hens are fed and if they are kept in cages.

Completely at the other end of the spectrum are eggs from hens that spend most of their time outside, pecking around on grass and eating insects. These hens produce eggs that have bright yellow and sometimes almost orange colored yolks. Studies have shown that these eggs are higher in omega-3s and vitamins A, B12 and E and lower in fat and cholesterol.

Eggshells can be brown, blue or white. Most commercially produced eggs have either white or brown shells. Eggshell color only indicates what breed the chicken that laid the eggs was. It doesn’t indicate what the chicken was fed. In other words, eggshell color really doesn’t matter when choosing eggs.

To my mind the best eggs come from the chickens that roam around eating grass and insects. They are the kind of eggs I was raised on and that I still enjoy the most. There is nothing tastier than a truly fresh egg, gently fried in butter and served with a nice piece of toast to use for “yolk-dipping”.

I recently received a dozen of these luscious pasture-raised eggs from a friend who raises her own chickens. I photographed them to show you how visibly different the yolks are and how beautiful the variations in eggshell colors can be. The blue colored eggs come from Araucana hens.

The next time you shop for eggs consider not just price, but what the hens were fed and how they were housed.  Choosing eggs from hens that are pasture fed is not only a healthier choice for you and your family, it’s a more humane choice for the hens.

Here’s wonderful little quiche recipe you might try for Sunday brunch or an evening dinner.

Crab Quiche in Bacon Crust

Pastry for one crust pie

4 slices of Applewood smoked bacon

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

1 leek, sliced thinly, sautéed in oil

¾ pound crab meat, flaked

3 eggs, beaten slightly

1 ½ cups milk

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

½ teaspoon Worcestershire

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, if you’re using fresh thyme use 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Cook bacon until crisp; drain thoroughly. When cool, crumble; press gently into bottom and sides of the pastry that lines the pie pan. (At this point you can cover the pie crust and refrigerate overnight, if you wish.) Arrange crabmeat, Gruyère cheese and sautéed leek in bottom of pie shell. Beat eggs slightly; add milk, fresh parsley, nutmeg, grated lemon peel, Worcestershire, thyme and pepper. Pour over crab in pie shell. Bake in a very hot oven (450°) for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake 30 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cut in 6 wedges.

Modified from a recipe in Sunset Breakfasts & Brunches © 1966