"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

January 26, 2011

The Perfect Egg

"Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken." ~ M.F.K. Fisher

Today my youngest son couldn't wait to show me the eggs he had gathered after school. Two were quite speckly and one of the Araucana eggs was a particular robin's egg blue (usually they are more teal-to-light green). Our hens have started laying again after a prolonged molt in the fall (the 18-month olds) and a slow start to the remaining spring Delawares and Buckeyes who didn't go to the butcher in November. I know that chickens respond to increasing light (who doesn't?) but that they also won't lay when they are molting. I can't really bear to 'retire' any of the laying hens so am glad for another year or so for my first batch.

The 'Speckled Sussex' hens will certainly be granted stays of execution and be cared for the rest of their days. They are nosy little things, and quite friendly and prone to broodiness––a trait that might come in handy now that we have two surprise roosters. I've been amused at how the Speckleds have taken up with the newer hens on the other side of the chicken duplex. They just started roosting with them at night and moved right in without any kerfuffle or fanfare. I didn't try to move them back to the other side because I knew that the chickens seem to sort these things out on their own. They were always rather ostracized by the others and now they seem to have found their spot in the world. Always a good feeling, isn't it? To find your place and sense of order in the grand scheme?

"Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovelier than fresh, warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?" ~ Frank McCourt
"I had an excellent repast––the best repast possible––which consisted simply of boiled eggs and bread and butter. It was the quality of these simple ingredients that made the occasion memorable. The eggs were so good that I am ashamed to say how many of them I consumed...It might be said that an egg which has succeeded in being fresh has done all that can reasonably be expected of it." ~ Henry James

I have just finished the novel, The Book of Salt by Monique Truong (a Cupcake pick for August 2010––I'm the slow one in the group!). There are lovely, sensual passages throughout the book describing the culinary delights, and life, of the imagined Vietnamese cook, Binh, in the Paris home of American expats, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. Many are egg-based recipes and I will detail more another time.

Here is an omelette recipe within the text, in its most basic and beautiful form:
"Six eggs beaten with a generous pinch of salt until the mixture is thick with air, until the color lightens to the bare yellow of chamomile centers. Two large soupspoons of butter, the first melted in the pan until it sizzles, a harmonic of anticipation. The second is tucked under the puffy skin that has formed in less than a minute, if the heat is just right. A simple dish that reveals the master, exposes the novice."
One of my favorite breakfasts is to fry one of our eggs, in a bit of butter, and serve it on a piece of whole wheat toast. Sausage on the side is also quite nice. And a mug of sweet golden tea.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Hi Catherine -

    I recently stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying it very much. And I must say, IMHO, a well cooked egg is heaven sent. I just made a toad in the hole for breakfast this morning and savored every bit. That divine moment when the yolk spreads all over the white, cooked slightly crispy on the bottom... Here in SW PA, we call them dippy eggs.


  2. All hail to the newly laid egg! Is there anything prettier or better tasting? Hardly!



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