While out at Isle Farms this weekend I fulfilled my goal of buying eggs from happy hens. In addition to the satisfaction of knowing that the hens are happy, I got eggs that are of much higher quality than any I've ever cooked with before. I have a feeling that the eggs I used to gather at my grandparents' place in Sonoma were similar, but I was too young to know what a privilege it was to eat such a delicacy. The eggs I bought at Isle Farms were all different colors since they came from a few different breeds of chickens. Some of the eggs were white, some where light khaki, some were taupe, and some were dark brown. Although the color of the eggs does not affect their nutritional quality, it was fun to see such a variety all in one box.
What I really loved about the eggs was what I found when I cracked them open in my frying pan. First of all, the color was a gorgeous dark yellowy orange, not the typical yellow of grocery-store eggs. I wish I had taken a photo. Sorry...the intensely colored yolk is apparently due to the variety in the hens' diet. Since they're allowed out of the hen house, they have an opportunity to scratch around in the dirt for bugs, worms, and grubs, like happy hens are supposed to do. In the summertime there is much more food available for them outside the hen house, so their yolks will have an even more intense color. The second thing I loved about cooking them was the stiffness of the white. It was thick and stood at attention in the pan instead of running all over like more watery whites. I don't know if this was due to the eggs' freshness (they were collected on Friday and I cracked them Sunday morning) or the hens' diet. Maybe both. Once I finished cooking the eggs, I served them to the girls and their Uncle Brian, who visited us this weekend. Scott was busy bottling beer but did take a time out for a bite of my eggs. We were all in agreement that they were some of the tastiest eggs we'd ever had.
Here's the rub...first of all, I have to drive to "Kansas" to get the eggs. Ugh. Second, the eggs are rarely available in the winter since hens raised in a natural environment don't produce as many eggs in the winter. I guess I lucked out on Saturday. Once the hens go into full production mode again, I'll probably be making more trips out to Isle to pick up more of those beautiful eggs. And a few loads of the free cow manure, too...spring will coming eventually!