Thursdays are when I deliver eggs to Tweets Cafe. They use most of the eggs for making their delicious meals, but they also have a few dozen available for you to buy. When I was making my delivery, David, the chief, promptly grabbed two dozen eggs to make a quiche. These are pictures of the cartons they will have available for you to buy if you are visiting them this weekend. Tweets is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Before you can take a freshly baked soufflé out of the oven you need to pour the soufflé batter into buttered ramekins and put them in the oven.
Before you can pour the soufflé batter into buttered ramekins, you need to finish mixing the soufflé batter.
Before you can finish mixing the soufflé batter, you need to add the sliced ham.
Before you can add the sliced ham to the soufflé batter, you need to finish mixing in the nettle leaves.
Before you can finish mixing in the nettle leaves, you need to add them to the soufflé batter.
Before you can add the nettle leaves to the soufflé batter, you need to mix in the grated cheese.
Before you mix in the grated cheese, you need to fold in the roux and egg yolk mix into the beaten egg whites
Before you can fold in the roux and egg yolk mix into the beaten egg whites, you need to gently fold in more of the beaten egg whites into the roux.
Before you can fold in more of the beaten egg whites into the roux, you need to add a small portion of the egg whites into the roux and egg yolk mix.
Before you can add a small portion of the egg whites into the roux and egg yolk mix, you need to beat the egg whites into a firm meringue.
Before you can beat the egg whites into a firm meringue, you need to butter two ramekins.
Before you butter two ramekins, it’s a good idea to grate some hard cheese.
Before you grate some hard cheese, slice some ham.
Before you slice some ham, cut the nettle leaves.
Before you cut the nettle leaves, finish making your rough and egg yolk mix.
Before you finish making your rough and egg yolk mix, take the rough off the stove and quickly beat in the egg yolks with some milk.
Before you take the rough off the stove and quickly beat in the egg yolks with some milk, cook the rough until it gathers into a soft ball.
Before you cook the rough until it gathers into a soft ball, brown the flour and butter together.
Before you brown the flour and butter together, melt some butter in a pan and add some flour.
Before you melt some butter in a pan and add some flour, wash the freshly picked nettles.
Before you wash the freshly picked nettles, you’ll need to go out into your garden and pick them. You don’t have nettles in your garden? That’s OK, you can use any fresh greens that you find in your garden. Oh, you don’t have a garden? You can’t just go outside and gather something fresh to eat? I guess you could run down to your local green grocer and ask if they have any produce that was picked with the last few hours. What? Your grocer doesn’t even have anything picked today? How is that possible? Surely there is a farm within a 30 to 60 minute drive from your green grocer. There’s no excuse not to have fresh produce picked at least that morning. Well, just do your best, and if your green grocer doesn’t have produce picked that day on their shelves, it’s time to find a new green grocer or find a nearby farmer who will see that you have produce picked that day.
Before you wash you go pick your fresh nettles or greens, break your eggs and separate the egg whites from the yolks.
Before you break and separate your eggs, select five eggs laid today. Five eggs will make two individual soufflés. If you have more people, figure between two and three eggs per person. Eggs work best at room temperature, so if your eggs are in the refrigerator, take them out and let them rest until they are at room temperature.
You don’t have eggs laid today? When were the eggs you have laid? What? You don’t know? Don’t tell me you purchased eggs which you didn’t know how old they were? Didn’t the farmer who sold you your eggs tell you when they were laid? Oh, you forgot to ask? Or did you say you bought your eggs from a supermarket? You can’t see a label on the carton saying how old they are? I wonder why that is? What are they trying to hide? Maybe it’s time to raise your egg standards. The next time you purchase eggs, ask the seller you’d like eggs laid that day. If they look at you like you’re nuts, take a deep breath. You’re not the crazy one. The seller who thinks it doesn’t matter how old eggs are to make a good soufflé is the crazy one.
Life is too short for ho-hum eggs. Find someone who will sell you fresh eggs from chickens that spend all day outdoors enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
The nice thing about chickens is that they like to come home in the evening. Your or old, as the sun starts to set, they all make their way back into the chicken yard and the coop. In the winter months, they are in by 4 o’clock. In midsummer it can be 9 o’clock or later. They don’t want to be left outside in the dark.
Even though it is still early January, the hens are laying more eggs. Their winter slump has ended and daily egg production has gone from five to seven up to eighteen. It will double from that in a few months.
We have one hen, Lucky, who lays her eggs in one of the dog houses. Each morning it is a race between us and the dogs as to who gets her eggs. This morning we got the egg. Most mornings all we find is an empty shell.
At 17 days of age, these chicks are spending most of the day outdoors. Their mother takes them outside at the crack of dawn in search of good things to eat. In a matter of hours, they will travel further than broiler chickens travel their entire lives. When you see how far chickens like to go in search of food, you understand how intolerable it is to raise them in densities of one chicken per square foot. With a mother, chicks enjoy a very rich life.
You’ll never find liver like this in the store. Liver from chickens which exercise much of the day, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine, is plump and dry.
When chickens are out walking all day, rummaging for food, playing, and having a good time, they are pumping copious amounts of oxygenated blood through their bodies, much like people who exercise. Chickens raised in cramp quarters and butchered at a very young age, never attain the level of health of chickens raised outdoors. And this shows in the quality of their livers.
Fried in butter, chicken fat, or olive oil for several minutes on each side, it has so much flavor that no salt is needed. In fact, you should first taste it before adding any salt. Often salt, instead of enhancing the flavor of foods, just makes foods taste like salt.
Liver is best eaten within a few hours of processing a chicken. Are there any stores which sell chicken liver from chickens butchered that day? Let me know if you find one. The next time you buy chicken liver in a store, ask the grocer when the liver was taken. If they don’t know, what does that say about their concern for the quality of the food they sell to you?
Healthy chickens have very sharp beaks. They need them to peck at food, dig in the dirt, and when hunting, to kill their prey. Chickens will quickly spear and kill a field mouse. Chicken beaks are complex organs with many sensory neurons which help the chicken sense things. Sadly, most commercial hen layers are debeaked as chicks. The reason is that when chickens are crowded too close, a chicken will peck to tell the other chicken it is too close. With crowded chickens, this pecking can cause injury and once a chicken develops a wound and starts to bleed, other chickens will peck at the wound leading to severe injury and death. But all you have to do is give the chickens enough room and they won’t peck each other. The next time you buy eggs, ask your grocer if the hen that laid your egg was debeaked.
The sun is out this January morning. Chickens enjoy lots of sun. You can’t raise healthy chickens without letting them soak in all the sun they want, and letting them roam as much as they want. The next time you buy chicken, ask your grocer, “How much sun did this chicken get? How far was it allowed to roam? Did it ever get to chase another chicken around a tree, or cross a bridge over a stream? Eat a tadpole or a frog?”
The chicks are two weeks old today. Even though it’s a wet December day, their mother is taking them a long way from the cozy, dry barn where they bed down during the night. Flower beds are favorite spots for chickens to scratch, so if you are planning on getting chickens and want beautiful flower beds, you’ll need to pick one or the other. Or you’ll need to protect your flower beds with fencing.
Out at the edge of the woods, when it’s time for protection or to get out of the steady rain, the chicks will huddle underneath their mother. A little rain doesn’t stop her.