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Incredible, edible free-range eggs
Fans of farm-fresh eggs swear by their richer flavor
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Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 6:00 am
By JANE AMMESON - HP Correspondent - HP Correspondent |
There’s a whole world of eggs beyond the white and brown
varieties you see on grocery store shelves. There are eggs in
shades of cream, beige, speckled light brown, deep brown and
light green, born of pasture-raised chickens with intriguing breed names – Buff
Orphington and Speckled Sussex, for example.
"The colors and sizes all depend on the breed and age of the hen," says Janet
Schuttler, who co-owns Middlebrook Farm in Three Oaks with her husband, Bob.
"Our primary breeds are Isa Brown and Barred Rock but we also have
Araucana and some heritage mixes."
Though Middlebrook Farm specializes in Lowline Angus 100-percent grass-fed
beef, Schuttler offers hen's eggs to customers as well, though the supply is
limited. The couple is among several local farmers who enjoy the fresher and
richer flavor of pasture-raised chickens.
Don Campbell / HP staff
Beth and Ron Weaver of Black Dog Farm and Gardens in Baroda raise and sell
the blue eggs produced by her Rhode Island Reds and small greenish eggs from
Buff Orphington and Araucana chickens. Though the colors are pretty, Weaver
notes that the wonderful flavor comes from the freshness of the eggs and what the
chickens eat. The color of the egg simply indicates the breed of chicken.
Incredible, edible free-range eggs
Free-range chickens feed at Middlebrook Farm, run by Bob and
At her Busy Solitude Farm in Galien, Johanna Humbert shares the eggs produced
by her hens and ducks with friends and co-workers.
Janet Schuttler.
"Fresh eggs are so delicious and so much better than store eggs," Humbert says.
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She first started raising chickens in 2008, giving them names some of which
reflect their lineage. For example, Goldy is a Buff Orphington named so because
in England where they were first bred, a judge would pull out his gold watch and if
it matched the color of the bird, it was considered a win.
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"I think Speckled Sussex will be one of my favorite breeds," Humbert says,
"because they're very friendly, engaging and curious."
They're also - surprisingly, since we're talking chickens here - pretty with white spots outlined by black on rich mahogany feathers.
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The colors are delightful, but even better, free-range chickens seem to produce eggs with more health benefits, says Penny Murphy, owner
of Ma's Organics on Benton Center Road in Benton Township.
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Murphy, who raises chickens and geese for their eggs, shared research including a study conducted by Mother Earth News showing that
eggs from hens raised on pasture compared to commercially raised eggs may contain one-third less cholesterol, one-fourth less saturated
fat, two-thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E and seven times more beta carotene.
Jo Robinson, author of "Pasture Free: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products From Grass-fed
Animals" (Vashon Island Press) and the author of the recently released "Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health" (Little
Brown Little 2013; $27) explains that products from grass-fed animals are safer and more nutritious than conventional ones because of what
and where they eat - grass and outside, rather than additive-laden feed served in cramped indoor quarters.
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Besides the health differences, there's also a taste difference as well.
"Because the yolks have so much flavor, all we need to do is cook them with a bit of olive oil, sunny side up and served with Hap's bacon
from Local," Schuttler says, referring to the house-made bacon her son Patrick Mullen makes for his butcher shop, Local, in New Buffalo.
"They're good just the way they are," says Beth Weaver, who just scrambles or fries the eggs. "When they're this fresh, just like vegetables,
you don't need to do much with them."
The following recipes were provided by Johanna Humbert of Busy Solitude Farm in Galien.
Crunchy Coated French Toast
Serves 2
3 large eggs
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
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1/2 cup milk
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pinch of cinnamon
3-4 slices bread
2/3 cup sliced almonds, rolled oats, or uncooked millet
Begin heating a griddle or skillet over medium heat.
Break the eggs into a pie pan or wide bowl, add salt and beat with a fork until smooth. Beat in the vanilla.
Continue to stir the mixture as you drizzle in the milk and sprinkle in the cinnamon, if desired. When it is well blended, place the slices of
bread into the mixture, pressing them down with the back of the fork.
Let the bread sit in the egg mixture for about 2 minutes, then turn it over and let it sit for another 2 minutes. It should be soaked all the way
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Spread the almonds, oats, and/or millet out on one or two plates. Lay the soaked bread on top and press gently until coated on the bottom.
Turn the bread over and coat the other side.
Melt some butter on the hot griddle, then add the coated bread. Fry over medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until the coating is
golden. If it begins to brown too much or too fast, turn the heat down. It's important that the French toast be cooked all the way through.
Serve hot with the toppings of your choice such as Michigan blueberries and Michigan maple syrup.
Serves 1 or 2
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (maybe a splash more)
1/2 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Grease a popover tin, standard muffin pan or 4 6-ounce custard cups (if using the cups, also flour them).
Whisk flour and salt together. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk and butter together. Pour liquid over solid and fold just until blended. A
few small lumps are OK.
This much batter will fill 4 of the 12 spaces on a muffin pan. Use the more centered spaces, then fill the rest of the spaces 1/3 full with water
so that they don't burn.
Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 20 minutes more. DO NOT open oven
to check on the popovers!!!
When they're all puffy and golden brown and time's up, remove from the oven and unmold onto a cooling rack. Puncture each with a sharp
knife to let the steam escape.
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Omelet with Caramelized Onions And Blue Cheese
Serves 1
2 eggs
1 onion, thinly slice, about 1/2 cup
1 ounce crumbled blue or green cheese such as Stilton, Gorgonzola or Maytag
2/3 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat an 8 inch, oven-proof skillet over medium. Pre-heat broiler.
Whisk the eggs with a splash of water - about 1 tablespoon.
When the pan is hot, pour 2 teaspoons olive oil into it and tilt pan to film it.
Sauté the onion over medium heat until nicely browned,10-15 minutes. (If you have time, sauté the onion 20-30 minutes until it's really
reduced and deep caramel brown, but I don't often have that kind of time before breakfast!)
Remove onions to a plate. Return pan to heat. There should still be a good film of oil on the pan, but if it needs it, add the final tsp.
Pour the whisked eggs into the pan. As the egg sets up, lift the edge with a fork and tilt pan to run the loose eggs under the set egg.
When you can't get any more egg to run to the side, spread the onions over the egg, then the cheese over that.
Place pan under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese and set the top of the eggs.
Serve "open faced" as a frittata or gently fold over as an omelet.
Alternative eggs
Beyond chicken eggs, local farmers also are raising geese and ducks for their eggs.
"Goose eggs are wonderful for puddings because they're so rich," says Penny Murphy of Ma's Organics. "It also makes a killer frozen
When substituting goose eggs for hen eggs, Murphy says the rule of thumb is 3 to 1.
For those wondering what to do with goose and duck eggs, when I sent out a Tweet asking if anyone had recipes, I got a quick response.
Denise Springar Hollacher, who was formerly of Benton Harbor and now lives in the Chicago area, shared a recipe for a sponge cake made
with duck eggs which makes a lighter, more yellow cake than cakes made with hen's eggs.
"Show off the egg," suggested Matt Millar, a James Beard Award-nominated chef. "Make hollandaise with the yolk and lighten it with the
whipped whites. Nice goodbye to asparagus."
Marnie Heyn of St, Joseph recommended chocolate chip cookies made with duck eggs - one duck egg equals about two chicken eggs.
Because the yolks of duck eggs are richer than hen eggs, you'll get a deeper, more velvety flavor.
My friend Laura VanVleet gave me one for poached duck eggs, ham and asparagus drizzled with a honey mustard dressing.
"It's interesting," Johanna Humbert says, "that we don't eat eggs from as many different birds as people used to. They taste so good."
Duck-Egg Sponge Cake
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus 2 teaspoons for dusting
3 organic duck eggs
6 tablespoons superfine sugar
Line two 2-by-7-inch round cake pans with parchment or wax paper, brush the base and sides of the pan with melted butter and dust with the
2 teaspoons flour.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Put the whites and sugar into a bowl and whisk until stiff, preferably in an electric mixer. Whisk in the
yolks one by one and then fold in the sifted flour, making sure not to deflate the mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn out carefully and let cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with cream and homemade jam or fresh berries.
Sprinkle a little superfine sugar or confectioners' sugar over the top.
Poached Duck Egg with Asparagus, Cured Ham and Grain Mustard Dressing
Grain Mustard Dressing:
2 ounces olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 1/3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 ounce grain mustard
Salt and pepper
16 asparagus spears
Poached Duck Eggs:
4 duck eggs
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
To Plate:
4 slices of Parma ham
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
Black pepper
Combine the mustard, olive oil, honey and vinegar and mix well to create the dressing. Set aside.
Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody bases and peeling. Bring two large pans of water to the boil and heavily season one of them
with salt. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to the other one.
Crack the eggs into four individual cups and, using a whisk, stir the vinegar water vigorously to create a whirlpool. Working quickly, gently
place the eggs one by one into the center of the whirlpool and allow the water to simmer.
Poach the eggs for approximately 3 minutes until still runny inside. Lift from the water with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
In the last minute of egg poaching time, place the asparagus in the salted water and boil for 1 minute until tender. Remove, season with salt
and pepper and keep warm.
On four warm serving plates divide the asparagus spears and place a slice of ham over them. Top with a warm egg and drizzle with the
vinaigrette. Season the top of the eggs with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some chopped chives.
Ma's Organics Goose Egg Pudding
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 goose egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
In heavy bottomed pan mix cornstarch, sugar and salt.
Slightly beat goose egg and mix with sugar mixture. Slowly add milk and mix well.
Cook over medium to low heat stirring constantly until pudding thickens.
Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool, covered with plastic wrap.
Posted in Features on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 6:00 am.
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