Updated November 2010.
A few years ago, while working on a magazine article (never finished) about "designer eggs" (never found them), I interviewed a woman in our town who's both a licensed veterinarian and a holistic practitioner. I needed a chicken refresher course, and she invited me to her farm for a lesson in which-came-first.
Of all the things she told me, the one I remember is this: you can tell what color an egg will be by checking the ear lobes of the chicken.
I'm not kidding.
White ear lobes, white eggs. Brown-ish ear lobes, brown eggs.
Anyone who's lived in New England knows the famous advertising jingle: "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!" But if, as they say, you're not from here, you might not know that brown eggs are the norm in this part of the country, thanks primarily to our very own state bird, the Rhode Island Red — a brown hen, with brown ear lobes.
Eggs have been called a "perfect" food. According to the Egg Nutrition Center, eggs contain almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans except Vitamin C. Eggs have a biological value (efficacy with which protein is used for growth) of 93.7%, compared with 84.5% for milk, 76% for fish, and 74.3% for beef, and they are especially rich in the antioxidant lutein.
Nutrition claims aside, for cooks eggs are a perfect food. Without them, we'd have no frittata, no and no soufflé. No brunch, come to think of it, without omelets, eggs Benedict, French toast. No egg salad sandwiches. No Spit in the Ocean (my dad's specialty).
My favorite Country Hen eggs, from nearby Massachusetts, are laid by chickens fed an organic diet high in Omega-3. These chickens have a very happy life, housed in barns with natural sunlight, no cages, and porches. When you crack the eggs, the deep yellow yolks sit up straight and tall. Yes, they are twice the price of supermarket eggs that have been refrigerated for days or weeks and trucked in from who-knows-where, but I can see and taste the difference.
And, they have a beautiful, irresistible, George Hamilton tan.
Albornia de chayote
Chayote, also known as mirliton, is a pale green, almost pear-shaped squash, with a dimple on the bottom. They're available in my local grocery store, and in markets serving Latino communities. Popular in the southern US and the Caribbean, chayote has a mild flavor and good texture. If this vegetable is new to you, try it in scrambled eggs. If you can't find it, you can substitute a firm zucchini or yellow (summer) squash. Serves 6.
2 green chayote squash, quartered, pith removed, and diced (do not peel)
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sofrito (storebought or homemade)
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the chayote, and boil uncovered for 30 minutes until the chayote is cooked through. Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and sofrito, and stir in peppers and onion. Sauté, stirring often, 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the chayote, and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and stir into the vegetable mixture. Stir constantly until the eggs are cooked, approximately 4-5 minutes.
Other recipes that use eggs:
Poached eggs over rice, from 101 Cookbooks
Thai son-in-law eggs, from Rasa Malaysia
Wasabi deviled eggs, from Cooking with Amy
Baked eggs with cheese, tomatoes and bacon, from Cookography
Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, from La Tartine Gourmande
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