Saturday, April 17, 2010
Not Cheaper by the Dozen, But Worth Every Penny
Each Saturday, I make my way to the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market to buy, among other things, two dozen eggs. My Depression-era mother would faint if she knew I paid $6 for twelve eggs, but it's truly money well spent.
These eggs are definitely NOT the supermarket variety. First, the shells come in all colors (Araucana chickens lay the beautiful blue ones) and inside, well, let's just say that the yolks are almost in Technicolor, they're so rich and yellow -- perfect for custards (see the lemon curd atop the cake below) and just about anything else.
Not only is the taste superior, but the safety factor is too. Because a lot of the recipes I use, especially frostings, call for uncooked egg whites, I'm less likely to poison co-workers and family members who enjoy the sweets of my labor . In fact, before factory farms took over egg (and chicken) production, raw egg whites were considered an ideal food for both the ill and the young. In the 1908 New York Evening Telegram Cookbook, one entry under "Dainty Desserts for the Nursery or Invalid's Tray" suggests surrounding a baked apple with the white of an egg "beaten stiff with a bit of sugar."
I first encountered Araucana eggs years ago at the Crooked River Herb Farm outside of Akron. The day didn't start well. Imagine it's Easter and you're at your Jewish parent's house and there's nothing to do and your young children are cranky. So you pile them in the car for a drive in the country (secretly hoping they'll fall asleep, just to end the whining) and almost like magic, on a back road, a sign appears announcing, "Fresh Fudge," so you pull into the driveway and even though it's Easter, the small shop is open and inside there are three kinds of fudge made with goat's milk from the owner's herd, and dozens of gorgeous blue eggs displayed in baskets, and maple sugar candy and, to the added delight of the children, two friendly llamas right outside, with the Araucana chickens scratching underfoot.
We all felt like we'd discovered something wonderful that day, and I guess we had.