Tag Archives: eggs

This Chick Can Help With Your Chickens


As a food writer who researches the sources of what we eat, I frequently encounter both purveyors and buyers who bemoan the disconnect between source and consumer that is so common today. Not only are we no longer a rural society, we hardly even know what rural means anymore. Plus, with food brought in from Chile or China as often as from a nearby farm, that disconnect with the food source grows.

There are, of course, many who are fighting this trend–and, in fact, fighting this trend is becoming a trend itself. Farmers offer tours of their facilities. Community Supported Agriculture offers an opportunity for city slickers to dig in the dirt. At farmers’ markets, people can actually talk to the people who grew the food they’re about to buy. And now, people are beginning to consider ways they can become part of the supply chain.

Urban farmers are digging up small backyards to create lush vegetable gardens. Rooftops sprout greenery and greenhouses. And now, in some places, cities are beginning to allow people to have a few chickens in the back yard. Nice to think of actually having a really fresh egg from time to time. And, unlike a dog, you don’t have to walk a chicken. But what do you have to do, and where do you go, if you do want to learn more about raising chickens?

Of course, researching it on your own is a possibility. The information is out there. But if you’re pressed for time and want to take advantage of the accumulated expertise of someone who has been thinking about all these things for many years, you could hire someone like Jennifer Murtoff. Jennifer is an Urban Chicken Consultant. Based in the metro-Chicago area, she has a wide range of neighborhoods and cityscapes that have benefited from her expertise. From presentations to groups to private guidance in how to establish your own coop full of chicks, Jennifer makes it her business to share the ins and outs of raising, feeding, and benefiting from your own hens.

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer’s business, along with a wealth of information and tips for those already involved in raising chickens, you can check out her blog, Home To Roost.

It’s fun and encouraging to see people taking an interest in learning about food production. As Jennifer notes, a few chickens in the backyard won’t be enough to keep you from ever going to the store for eggs again, but there’s something about having your own eggs from your own hens that makes those eggs just a little more special.

Oh — and if chickens are just a bit too ambitious for you, ask Jennifer about quail. They can make a nice addition to the family, as well.

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Welsh Eggs

If you say “Welsh” when speaking of food, probably the first thing to come to mind is Welsh rabbit, a tasty treat that usually consists of toast topped with a cheddar sauce flavored with Worcestershire sauce and dried mustard. Of course, a few of you will have thought “Welsh rarebit.” But interestingly, “rabbit” is the older name of the dish. There are also Scottish, English, and Irish rabbits, all featuring in some way cheese on toast.

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the emergence of the term “rabbit” in this connection to 1725. It places “rarebit” 60 years later. So even though “rabbit” is older, “rarebit” is certainly well established.

There is some debate as to why the name “rabbit” was used for this dish, as well as why “rarebit” was later introduced. The most likely explanations, according to historians, are that “rabbit” was introduced in the same way we might use “steak” when speaking of something not made of meat, such as a “tofu steak.” However, it is unknown whether this was used as a slur against the Welsh, who might have been too poor to get a rabbit for dinner, or a stiff upper lip among the Welsh, making light of adversity during a time of want. As for “rarebit,” that was apparently just a way that the Brits could make it sound more upper crust once the dish became widely popular. (And how could cheese and toast not become popular—cheap enough for the poor and flavorful enough for the gourmets—unbeatable combination.) Continue reading

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All-Purpose Soufflé

I’ve done histories on cheese and eggs, so I thought it might be time for a recipe that combined the two —cheese soufflé. The soufflé is pretty much the pinnacle of egg-dom, the coolest possible thing to do with these versatile little protein parcels. And (here’s the surprise) it’s actually pretty easy to make a soufflé. In fact, this is an almost fool-proof recipe. Soufflés are fun, yummy, and a relatively easy way to impress the heck out of people. (The instructions may look ponderous, but don’t let that put you off—a lot of it is just technique, to help ensure your success.)

For soufflé making, in addition to the usual pots, cups, and measuring spoons, you must have a metal or ceramic bowl (never plastic), a rubber spatula, and a whisk. An electric mixer is pretty much a requirement, as well (I’ve actually beaten egg whites by hand before—so I know it works, but I also know it’s a daunting amount of work). A soufflé dish is nice, but not required; you just need an oven-proof dish of some sort, 1 quart capacity for this recipe, or double the recipe, if all you have is a 2-quart baking dish.

Cheese Soufflé
1/4 cup butter
3 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs, separated, plus 1 extra egg white
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
dash cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce Continue reading

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