My youngest and I took a most excellent field trip this morning. Janice, a friend and colleague, invited us over to see her backyard chickens. As a talented recipe developer and food writer, Janice blogs about her chickens (and other food-related topics) and also has written a cookbook about her experiences–Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes.
Janice’s chickens are gorgeous. The three older ones ran about her beautifully landscaped backyard, pecking at grains and hiding behind trees. The two baby silkies are kept in a large pen until they’re old enough to frolic with the others, though they did come out to be held. They all have names (Cleo, Ruby, Roxanne, Isabelle, and Jasmine) and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Janice said she started keeping chickens for their eggs, but soon came to appreciate and love them for their distinct personalities.
I loved that my daughter could see a piece of urban farming. As well, she was seeing a woman following a personal passion to the extent that she brought it into her professional life. Janice was kind enough to send a freshly laid egg home with my daughter (padded well in paper towels and a plastic bag for safe transport), so we scrambled it up for her lunch.
Even in its shell, the egg was gorgeous. A very pale brown, it made conventional supermarket eggs look ho-hum.
Cracked into a bowl, the egg was still a stunner: A perfectly round sunny and golden yolk surrounded by a crystal clear white.
On the plate, the egg was fresh and rich and it tasted real. I only got a bite as it was my daughter’s lunch, but the bite I had confirmed that fresh eggs taste far better than what you buy in the mainstream stores.
Buying organic eggs exclusively isn’t in my budget, but I treat myself during farmers’ market season. I will add Janice’s book to my collection, though, as it promises to be a good read containing creative and solid recipes. And my 6-year-old now has memories of holding a chicken (two, actually) in her lap, finding an egg not too long after it’s been laid, and taking said egg home for lunch. It was indeed an excellent field trip.