Wednesday, October 24, 2007
hen butts, a sunny day in the hills, and gratitude
we went to the farm to pick up eggs today! at Three Stone Hearth, we use and sell eggs from hens who get to run around outside and peck. different than supermarket eggs, or even "free-range" eggs, these eggs provide (not to mention incomparable nutrition) the most phenomenal egg experience. they are not a supporting cast-member, but instead hold center stage with confidence! the yolk is a gorgeous orange color, and the flavor ~ ! the richest of eggy. creamy-smooth-savor-every-bite. to connect the community in a tangible way to our local food supply, the Three Stone Hearth folks invite customers to volunteer to drive out to the farm and fetch the eggs. city-folks eager for an excuse to inhale some fresh air, there is always a waiting list for people who want to make the run! in return, they receive a flat of eggs (30), and gas money. Sealion and i got to make the run this week.
we headed up out of the traffic of Berkeley and Richmond across the bridge and into the rolling (i call them Steinbeck) hills. my favorite California view (well, other than Big Sur. . ). through Petaluma (where lots of the "free-range" eggs are from), to the coast and Tomales. and a few more miles after that. to Clark Summit Farm, tucked into the cleavage of several hills that slope up and out. here, chickens, grouse, and pigs are scurrying scratching, rooting and snorting around every corner and under every tree and bush. after we loaded up the 6 boxes of eggs into El Caballero Negro, Franciszek, the farm intern, took us up the hill for a tour of the hen houses and pastures. sun sheds for the sows and piglets, moveable houses for the hens, and a section of pasture where the variety of cattle chewed and stared at us when we approached. Sealion reached into a laying box in one of the henhouses and pulled out ~ an egg! and i couldn't help but gawk at the round and feathered derrieres of some of those scuttling hens and think: i might have eaten an egg from that behind! at the very top, we could see miles and miles of those Steinbeck hills. and as we listened, there was simply the cluck and peck of the hens and roosters, and the breeze. this is why you volunteer for the egg run. as we made our way back down the hill, a piglet jogged along beside us for a while before he ducked through a fence to where his mama snoozed in the shade.
my first exposure to the concept of local, seasonal food was working at Good Foods Co-op in Lexington. i earned a much greater appreciation for locally-grown produce ~ fresh, juicy, ripe-to-perfection vegetables and fruits. the kind of flavors and textures that you can only get when foods are harvested close by and in their season. in the past year and a half, i have studied (maniacally) about food, nutrition and food supply. i have learned that natural, traditionally produced/prepared foods integrally create our health and, to a significant extent, our happiness. conversely, our industrialized food system wreaks devastating effects on our health, our Earth and her wildlife, and our culture. small farmers are increasingly rare. yet, at the same time, they hold the key to a worthwhile Future in America. working with good food on a daily basis at Three Stone Hearth, buying our food directly from the farmers at the Farmers' Markets, and then getting to visit the actual farms that provide my nourishment ~ coming in closer contact with my food supply gives me a sense of awe and immense gratitude. it takes courage and will to raise and produce food the right way in our country today. and, frustratingly, it's confusing and daunting even to learn what Good Food is nowadays! i am thankful to those who have gone before me and shown light on the path that led me here. lately i look down at my plate and experience knot-in-the-throat gratitude for the bountious feast.
my favorite egg dish right now:
i have no problem, and actually enjoy, dinner-type meals in the morning. i often eat leftovers from breakfast.
when i don't, this is what i've been eating lately ~ with a slice of very well-buttered sourdough toast. :-)
butter or coconut oil for the pan
a bowl's worth of broth ~ hopefully homemade bone-broth, or other leftover soup
a handful of deep leafy greens, chopped and washed
one or two eggs
dulse flakes, sea salt, and vinegar ~ apple cider, red wine, or balsamic, whatever sounds right
i use an adorable little cast-iron skillet for my soup. it benefits from some good fat melted on there beforehand. and of course it's good for the soup. i heat the skillet to medium-low, melt the butter or coconut oil, then add the broth. heat it gently to a simmering boil, then drop in the greens. swirl them around to get them immersed in the liquid. make a little nesty-like place in the center of the greens, crack the egg and very gently leave the contents of the egg there. this will keep the white mostly in a nice little glob around the yolk. cover, and let the egg sit there in the simmering soup for a few minutes ~ at least five. once it seems that most of the white is cooked, and you can poke at the yolk and it seems to respond to the spoon, pour everything from the skillet to the bowl of your choice. i like deep round bowls. try to keep the egg sunnyside up, for presentation. add dulse, sea salt, and vinegar to taste. for maximum deliciousness and nutrition, i like the yolk to still be gooey in the center. this way you still get all the great enzyme benefits of that highest quality pastured egg.
i try to see if, even for just a few minutes, i can allow myself to focus solely on the experience of eating my soup. calmly digested, this is nourishment for the body whole.
two books that have had a profound impact on the way i view food and eating are:
Full Moon Feast, by Jessica Prentice,
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price.
another must-read for Americans who eat is The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.
to learn to be a most-conscious meat-eater (and animal product consumer ~ vegetarians need to know, too!!), i have just finished the book The Meat You Eat, by Ken Midkiff.
hens lounge and scratch in the shade of a tree.
piggies browse everywhere.
real, good eggs ~ a flat of them.