BY KRISTYN KAUCHAK
An egg is an egg is an egg. But not to me, exuberant home cook, passionate food sleuth and unabashed lusty eater. An egg, when it comes from one of the local sources of multicolored, non-uniform eggs, is a delicious treasure.
The egg is the most important reason I doubt I’ll ever be vegan, in spite of believing that the vegan diet is better for the planet and better for personal health and longevity. For me, there is no substitute in baking or cooking for an egg.
There are sad impostors, like a slimy substance I’ve heard referred to as flegg, a brew of flax seeds and water. Ingenious, but not egg. There are commercial substitutes, too, blends of grains and cornstarch, meant to bind in baking. Also not egg. You will never see a carton of liquid egg substitute in my grocery basket.
Eggs from sad, overcrowded industrial chickens who never strut or flutter their wings, do not come home with me. To me, an egg is an egg if I get it from a local farmer or gardener with a small flock of birds who are loved.
The egg can be humble, boiled correctly, for just the amount of time that sets the yolk but doesn’t leave it with the green ring of shame from overcooking, eaten with just a pinch of salt and pepper. On the other end of the spectrum, the egg can be exalted in a rich soufflé. Eggs are democratic, comfortable at any meal, or in between. A spring morning scramble, with herbs—parsley, tarragon, chives, just snipped from the yard—is an elegant breakfast offering. Brunch possibilities are infinite. Almost any vegetable, cheese or meat can go into a frittata, and it is easy to make for a small crowd. Then there is lunch. Recently, I bought a dozen of Clay’s Nest Free-Range Eggs from Froehlich’s in Three Oaks, Michigan. I had no doubt they would be good, if not great. They always are.
A day off comes, a chance for a relaxing lunch. Into a sauté pan go kale, crimini mushrooms, onion and a clove of garlic in some olive oil, all chosen for nutritional benefits but also because the combination is delicious. A bit of water into the pan, to enable a moist poach.
Inside the egg carton, an assortment of small but lovely specimens in shades of brown and blue and green, sea-colored. Brittle tap of shells on the counter, and two eggs are eased over the bed of greens, then covered so a low heat sets the eggs perfectly, persimmon-colored yolks still soft, unbroken, shrouded in white cooked to creamy tender. Winter sunshine streaming into the house on a Monday afternoon, and one of the most delicious lunches in memory. Crisp, toasted whole-grain bread for mopping yolk, truffle salt and freshly ground black pepper seasoning the luscious eggs. The flavor was so rich and the texture so fine, I was moved to call Froehlich’s and rave about them. It is a pleasure when you appreciate true food to get your food from a distant neighbor and to be able to personally express your appreciation.
Kris Kauchak was born in Indiana and now lives in Michigan, appreciative of the bounty of the land and the generosity of local growers, who share their delicious produce at farmers markets and roadside stands. She writes often for pleasure, seeks new taste experiences with enthusiasm and cooks extemporaneously, with an emphasis on seasonal, local and fresh.
The gift of a just-laid egg from a friend’s new chickens two
summers ago inspired this poem by Kristyn Kauchak.
boiled hard, softly
orange crayon yolk
cradled in pure cloud white
clinging to its contents
peeled off tenderly
cleaved in two
glinting with sea salt
one for each of us
open your mouth