Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Bubba Gump Egg Factory

Sweet Curried Eggs (left) Tangy Horseradish Dill Eggs (right)
"Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.” -  Bubba Blue, Forrest Gump

Earlier today I happened to catch a bit of an old “Three Stooges” show on TV. As usual, they were looking for a free meal when they happened upon a farm with a barnyard full of chickens. One of them (and I can’t ever remember which is which!) began dancing and clucking like a hen proclaiming they’d found their dinner and they were about to have “hen fruit.” Eggs, that is. I’ve never heard them called that, but as usual this time of year, we have “hen fruits” running out our ears! We sold off about half our laying hens a month ago, but we still need to keep about twenty in order to fill the incubator once a month, so as usual, I’m looking for ways to enjoy the eggs while they’re so abundant. But sometimes I feel like we’re running the “Bubba Gump Egg Factory!” How many ways can you think of to use eggs?!

Lots of other stuff going on here too and I’ve just been too busy to blog lately. Curtis was off work the first week in March so we ran up to Mom and Zeke’s in Sallisaw, OK to visit and do a little fishing. We came home with some nice catfish fillets and some of the biggest bluegills we’ve caught in a LONG time. (Private ponds are nice that way!)

My sister was there as well (she was away in Phoenix last time we visited) and it was Hans’ birthday so we threw him a little party. And we finally had time to see Hans’ and Cathie’s permaculture gardens. That was really neat – so many little beds, trees and plots of things, along with various tubs and small ponds of koi.

We took our little Mini Australian Shepherd “Anakin” along. He’s not a very brave little dog and Hans’ and Cathie’s Great Pyrenees “Bella” almost gave him heart failure. He wasn’t sure if that was a hellhound or a horse chasing him through the woods, and he didn’t want to stop running to find out! But Bella is good-natured and Anakin finally realized he was going to live. Mom LOVES dogs and Anakin had at least ten square meals a day (plus snacks!) while we were there, so all in all, I don’t think he was too terribly traumatized. J
Brave Little Anakin

Since we’ve been back, we’ve mainly just been trying to keep up with getting fruit trees planted and staying ahead of the mowing from all the rain. Curtis has mowed the yard the last three weekends in a row. We haven’t been able to get our spring/summer gardens tilled yet because it’s been too wet, but I’m hoping we’ll have dried out a little this week. Course I don’t ever get in a huge hurry to get stuff planted in the spring – it’s not likely to happen this year, but we’ve had snow in April before and we’ve still plenty of things to eat that overwintered or that we planted earlier this year. But I’m sure looking forward to all those wonderfully fresh foods of summer – ripe tomatoes, juicy melons and cukes, tender little green beans and summer squash.
The Little Turnip That Could

We’ve already had our first hatch of baby chicks and we ended up with twenty-two. They spent the first three days under a heat lamp, then a few days in a 6’x8’ “chick tractor” in the yard. They’re just over two weeks old now, running free all over the yard getting into anything and everything! At night they all pile into their little wooden box and we set the wire pen over them until the next morning. They are SO entertaining at this age, as they are constantly finding little bits and pieces of this or that and then the pursuit is on! They chase each other around all day long trying to take away whatever treasure one of them finds. It's more entertaining than an aquarium full of baby pirahnas! The incubator is loaded for the next hatch.
Baby Raptors

Our fruit trees have all leafed out and the peach trees are LOADED with fruit! The newly-planted cherry trees are getting their first little leaves and I added another new tree to the yard. It’s a “Red Flowering Quince.” It caught my eye at All-Wise Garden Center and after I saw a picture of a full-grown shrub and read about the fruit, I just wasn’t going to be happy until I had one! The shrubs burst into a profusion of red blooms in the late winter/early spring. The small fruit are very high in pectin and vitamin C, making them an excellent addition to preserves and marmalades. I’m just hoping it survives the baby chicks bouncing around on it!


And now, a few egg recipes…

Have you ever noticed how whenever people sign up for a potluck or bring along food to a social gathering, the deviled eggs are usually prepared by someone who’s either too busy or too lazy to make them into something even remotely edible, let alone the wonderful treat they are capable of being? I think we just take for granted that eggs are a cheap and convenient food source without realizing that it’s only because of modern agriculture and hundreds of years of selective breeding that we’re able to have eggs year-round rather than seasonally, which is the case with all other domesticated fowl.

I like to keep deviled eggs (or even just hard-boiled eggs) prepared all the time because I tend towards blood-sugar swings and they are a fast high-protein/low-carb snack to help keep that regulated. Eggs from free-range chickens are a also decent source of Omega 3’s due to the many bugs chickens consume. Nowadays, the USDA, FDA and AMA have us so terrified of cholesterol that we’re scared to eat eggs, but many years ago, eggs were considered a “protective” food precisely because of that cholesterol and the fact that they’re such a nutrient-dense food. In old cookbooks and nutritional guidelines, it was recommended that every man, woman and child have at least one egg a day. I’m all for a return to the old ways!

Curried Deviled Eggs
These are sweet and the curry powder is just a wonderful complement to the natural flavor of eggs. (Make sure you use SWEET curry powder, as there are many different kinds available – you’ll know which it is when you smell it!) On rare occasions, I succumb to using Miracle Glop in my deviled eggs, but I abhor the nasty stuff and REAL homemade mayo is SO much better! Here’s the general recipe for stuffing a dozen eggs. After stuffing, dust with a little of the curry powder.

*12 hard-boiled egg yolks
*5 tablespoons homemade sweet mayonnaise
*1 tablespoon coarse-ground mustard or honey-mustard
*a pinch of salt
*1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
*1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish (or chopped sweet pickles plus a little juice from the jar)
*a pinch of sugar, or a little more, to taste

Tangy Horseradish Dill Eggs
Curtis doesn’t like sweet deviled eggs, so I concocted this recipe for him. I’ve gotten to the point where I like them just as much as the sweet ones, it just depends on what I’m in the mood for. This recipe also stuffs a dozen eggs. For a little extra zing, add a squirt of wasabi paste or horseradish powder! After stuffing, dust with dill, cayenne or paprika.

*12 hard-boiled egg yolks
*4-5 tablespoons sour cream
*2 tablespoons horseradish mustard
*1 teaspoon (or more!) Tabasco
*1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
*1/2 teaspoon dill weed
*1 tablespoon dill pickle relish (optional)

Homemade Sweet Mayo
You can make this in the blender or food processor or with just a hand mixer. The hand mixer is easiest to clean so that’s what I use. If you don’t have your own eggs or a reliable source for them, I’d make sure the store-bought egg is pasteurized.

*1 small very-fresh egg
*1 tablespoon white vinegar
*1 teaspoon coarse-ground mustard
*a pinch of salt
*1 tablespoon sugar
*about ½ cup (or a little more) of a neutral-flavored oil, like canola or light-tasting olive oil (do NOT use extra-virgin olive oil!)
-Add all of the ingredients except for the oil and blend thoroughly. Add the oil, a little at a time or in a slow drizzle until smooth and creamy.

How To Boil Eggs
This may seem overkill, but sure enough, if I don’t include it…! First of all, eggs that are a few days old are better for hard-boiling than very-fresh, just-laid eggs. They are much easier to peel afterwards due to the fact that the shell is porous and will separate slightly from the membrane after a few days. For a dozen eggs, choose a heavy pan that will hold 13-14 eggs. Place the eggs in the pan and cover them completely with cold water. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil. STIR THE EGGS GENTLY OCCASIONALLY SO THE YOLK BECOMES CENTERED WITHIN THE WHITE, otherwise the yolk will be all the way to the top or side of the egg when you slice them. When the water is JUST coming to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave the eggs sitting in the water for 20-25 minutes. Gently drain off the water and add cold water a couple of times until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Crack gently and peel.

Here are a few pictures of some of the techniques I use when making deviled eggs.
First of all,  I never cut the egg in half! I slice off a little from the top, then gently squeeze the yolks out. (I always boil a few extra eggs just in case I tear the white.)

Secondly, yes you can use your food processor, but this method is so much easier to clean up afterwards! That’s a pastry blender. You can also use a potato/bean masher.

And lastly, after thoroughly blending your stuffing mix with a fork, spoon it into a small snack or sandwich bag and cut the corner out of the bag just like with frosting. You will do a much better job of stuffing them this way than just trying to spoon the stuffing into the hole! And they’ll be much prettier. Okay, at least go to the trouble when company’s coming…. J
Baby Scoo Scoo
And speaking of stuffed, devilish things, go ahead, rub his belly. He wants you to. You didn't need that hand anyway... :o)))