Eat Well: Wendy Woolf says,"Let’s Talk About Eggs, Baby!"

(ED: the following words + photography c/o my mother, Wendy. Thanks, mom!)
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fresh local eggs

So many terms define the eggs that we get in the store. Free range, natural, cage free, vegetarian, organic…we can’t trust any of these labels. Free range can mean that there is a door in the corner opened for a few hours a day but the chickens are so closely confined that they never can find the door. Cage free can mean that the chickens are squished in one large pen, often having had their beaks removed so that they don’t peck each other. Natural means nothing…have you ever seen a man-made chicken? Organic means simply that their feed was grown without pesticides and artificial fertilizers and says nothing about how the chickens are raised. And vegetarian means they aren’t allowed outside, since chickens are naturally omnivores, loving the grubs and other bugs living in the ground.

So what do you do if you want to eat eggs from chickens that haven’t been confined to concentration camp conditions? Well, you can raise your own chickens. Many cities and almost all suburbs now allow chickens. Check your city ordinances to see if you are allowed chickens. There are some awesome chicken coups available online if you are seeking this adventure. This is my favorite one. If I hadn’t converted my backyard lawn to a vegetable garden, I would probably be buying one of these!

Otherwise, check out your farmer’s market and talk to the stand owner about how their chickens are raised. You can look at this website to find a farm that has been approved as a humane farm in your state. If you have CSA’s in your area (Community Supported Agriculture), contact them and ask where to get your eggs. Eating eggs from humanely raised chickens not only is the ethical choice, the eggs taste better and are better for you. The difference in price is only a couple of dollars and it is well worth it. Eggs are still the cheapest meal you can make. One dozen eggs can make, when extended, anywhere from 8-12 servings!

I get my eggs from a friend who has chickens. She treats them like pets (chickens actually can be quite sweet when treated properly). The yolks are bright orange and the white doesn’t run all over the pan. And they are unbelievably delicious.

The below picture is of a factory farm egg. Notice how runny the white part is and how pale the yolk is:
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And these eggs come from happy chickens:
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Notice the orange yolk and the firm white:
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We eat eggs for dinner once a week. Not only are egg dishes quick and easy, they are very inexpensive to make. The easiest egg dinner is scrambled eggs made with milk (I like to use goat) and salt and pepper. If you use fresh farm eggs, this meal is ecstasy. This is where you really can tell the difference of factory farm vs happy chicken eggs. Round out the meal with home made corn bread with honey and butter and a big chopped salad and you have a quick and child friendly meal. (Those of you who are gluten free, there are several wonderful gluten free corn bread mixes: Bob's Redmill Farms and Mary’s are delicious!!)

My favorite egg recipe is a Persian dish given to me by a lovely Iranian woman I met while on the train. I was on my way home from visiting Rebecca and her family right after Fable was born. We sat next to each other and became fast friends. She had been an obstetrician in Iran and was brimming with interesting stories. Somehow we got on the topic of cooking and she shared this recipe with me—a staple of the Iranian diet.

I like to pick recipes that extend the eggs to minimize the amount of animal protein we are getting. Mirza Ghassemi does that perfectly! And the eggplant is disguised for fussy eaters. This is a great summer dish, especially if you have your own vegetable garden or frequent a farmer’s market. The tomatoes, onions, and eggplant are fresh from my garden.

Mirza Ghassemi (Persian eggs, tomatoes and eggplant)

1 eggplant
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed, chopped, and smashed again
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil (I use olive oil)

1. Prick an eggplant and roast on a foil lined pan in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until soft.
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Meanwhile, cook garlic and onion in oil until soft (10-15 minutes).
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Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are really mushy. (You can just let it on the stove on low and stir once in awhile while your eggplant is cooking).
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When eggplant is done, let rest for five minutes and then peel (the peel should come right off or you can scrape it out with a spoon).
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Chop and mash the flesh and add it to the vegetables. (If watery, drain off the liquid). Season with turmeric, salt, and pepper to taste.
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Beat eggs and add to the hot mixture. Stir constantly on medium high until all of the eggs are fully cooked. Taste for seasoning. Serve over Jasmine rice.
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(Serve with yogurt, sliced cucumbers and pureed mint if desired.)

For vegans, substitute for the eggs a block of tofu, pressed, drained, and crumbled. Don’t cook too much after adding the tofu. Just warm it through.

***
Here are some of my other favorite QUICK egg recipes.

Quiche

I keep a couple of frozen ready made pie shells in the freezer for an easy dinner. These are my favorite. (If you are gluten free, use hash browns for the crust, brushed with butter and cooked until brown). I make two quiches at a time and it feeds us for several nights. Here are the simple steps for quiche:

1. Precook the crust for 10 minutes at 400.
2. Grate or crumble about a quarter pound of your favorite cheese. I like to use goat cheddar. It’s YUMMY!
3. Sauté your vegetables first so the water evaporates. Favorite combos are leeks (or onions) and spinach or chard…or really any vegetable you want. I use whatever is in my garden. Don’t cook too long. (If you have leftover veggies, you can use those. I usually roast a lot of vegetables and often use the leftovers for quiche).
4. To make the custard: use 4 eggs, beaten (depending on the size) to 2 cups of half and half, or substitute buttermilk or my FAVORITE, whole goat milk. You will get the same consistency as half and half. Add salt, and pepper to taste.
5. Cool the crust for 5-10 minutes before assembling. Put the veggies on the bottom, add cheese on top, and pour the egg mixture evenly between the two pans.
6. Cook for 40 minutes at 350, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve with a big salad and crusty bread for a perfect dinner.

Other egg ideas:

1. Mary’s Greek scramble (ED: Mary is my mom's BFF)

2. Huevos rancheros (fried eggs on warmed tortillas with salsa and cheese.)

3. Poached eggs over polenta.

I dozen eggs can make Persian eggs for 6 people and 2 quiches which feeds 6 people generously. At $4 a dozen for humanely raised eggs, this means the animal protein for each serving costs 33 cents. Quite a good deal!!!

WWW* for GGC

*my mother's initials are www. How interweb apropos is that?

57 comments:

Christine | 1:24 PM

Eggs Awesome: some feta, fresh parsley, two poached eggs, lemon juice.

Eggs Wicked: sweet potato patties (grated SP, bit of flour, s&p, fried) handful of fresh garden herbs, two poached eggs and lemon juice.

Eggs OMG: heaps of steamed asparagus, Brussel's sprouts, roasted tomato halves, hollandaise sauce (learn it!), handfuls of fresh garden herbs (parsley, thyme, marjoram, for example).

Mmm...

melani | 1:31 PM

Quiches are a staple in our house, and I will for sure be trying that aubergine recipe. Looks fantastic, and we love us some middle eastern flavor!

Anonymous | 1:46 PM

ya!! good eggs!! Thanks for posting about how much a difference a good egg makes!
I lived in Kenya for 6 months and it was there that I experienced REAL eggs. I used to have tea with a women's group that ran a chicken co-op, and they would fill a bowl full of hard boiled eggs from their happy chickens for me to eat. They were to die for!! I used to easily eat 3 or 4 eggs because they just tasted magical! unfortunately its hard to find good quality eggs in our western society.

Laurie | 1:48 PM

I make frittata at lease once a week. My 2-1/2 year old loves it!

Tanna | 1:48 PM

I hope you made sure Dooce read this! Maybe your mom's post about how good home grown eggs are will convince Jon to let Dooce have some chickens!

Meredith | 1:50 PM

Rebecca, your mom is my new hero. I love the Omlet chicken coop. I will be ordering this and expanding my garden to include eggplants. I just have to convince my husband to build me a greenhouse so I can have veggies year round. I love all the recipes. Keep them coming!!

Alexia | 2:07 PM

lovelovelove this post!

Leball | 2:27 PM

I loved this! I'm eating Paleo right now, so some ingredients I'm not eating. But I appreciated the egg info! I posted this on my FB account to share!

JB | 2:36 PM

YUM. Please keep posting these!!

I tried your quinoa recipe from last time and OMG, I've been eating the salad or yogurt version....almost every day! I feel better too (seriously). So I'll definitely be trying this one as well.

Again, keep posting these, they are great!!

(P.S. maybe you could also do a post on how you keep up with your garden? I have never had one, but maybe this will be enough motivation to start one...).

Steph(anie) | 2:49 PM

I want to marry your mother.

gorillabuns | 3:20 PM

I had this conversation the other day with a friend and still couldn't come up with a clear cut answer in the differences. Thanks for clearing it up for me and sharing the delicious recipes.

brklyn | 3:24 PM

I have been eating quinoa for the last few years, but had never thought to toss it over greens. I LOVE how quick it is to put together and how AWESOME it tastes(spicy candied pecans, goat cheese and strawberries, thankyouverymuch)!! My husband and I have had it every night ( and my lunch too--no lie) since I read your post! I've also started adding it in to the kids' yogurt without complaint. Never woulda thought to do that before.
Please keep with the posting, this picture thread for Eat Well is awesome ( and much preferred to video, IMO). I've had trouble finding simple, quick, kick-ass veggie food recipes/blogs over the internets till now, and am now relying heavily on you to provide the inspiration to feed my family.
Now off to buy some eggplant at the farmers market!

Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife | 3:29 PM

WOW, those recipes sound amazing!!! We are addicted to eggs, and are planning on getting some chickens this fall. YAY!

Sarah | 3:35 PM

I also find that the "real" eggs have harder shells than the "fake" (factory farm) eggs.

Laura | 3:35 PM

I really love egg dishes and am slowly converting my children to my way of thinking.

Although I have never given it very much thought, my eggs must come from happy chickens because I have never in my life seen an egg like the one in that first picture. Gross!

Wendy Woolf | 4:28 PM

Yes, Sarah. It is REALLY hard to crack the egg of a happy chicken. The factory farm ones are thin and crack super easily.

Ernie Bufflo | 4:31 PM

Since we gave up eating most of our meat after seeing Food Inc. (we're still meat eaters, but are committed to only eating ethically raised meat), we eat a LOT of egg dinners. Frittatas, scrambles with our CSA veggies, shakshuka with a side of homemade bread, poached eggs on top of veggies and pasta or veggies and couscous, boiled eggs in nicoise salads... I love eggs.

I grew up eating eggs from my family's chickens. We even had one baby chick who became a pet after he was the only one who hatched and was getting picked on by the rooster. Now, I don't have chickens (my lifestyle isn't settled enough), but I try to buy local farm-fresh eggs. When I can't, I buy the ones marked "certified humane" at the grocery store. There is SUCH a difference between a good egg and a bad one.

nicole | 5:02 PM

Thanks Rebecca's mom! My husband will be so happy to have new dishes added to our rotation.

Seriously, I'm ridiculously excited for the Eat Well posts, so awesome! Thank you!

Billie | 5:35 PM

Your mom should start her own blog! We decided to stop eating meat as a New Year's resolution. We had just watched food Inc. and were committed to changing our approach to food. Almost 7 months later and we're still meat-free and feeling great about our decision! As the cook for the family I scour the Internet and my local library for good recipes. Unfortunately, this hasn't always been very easy. I'm delighted with your moms recipes! They have exactly the kind of feel to them that I look for in recipes. Thanks WWW!

Mamacita Caliente aka AS Novus | 5:48 PM

These recipes sound fabulous!! I have recently become a fan of the egg salad with a bit of cayenne & curry, YUM! I love the idea of using hashbrowns for the crust of the quiche! Thanks WWW for such an insightful & delish bit o' reading.

LucidSplash | 5:57 PM

Post bookmarked in my recipes tab. Going to try the Persian eggs as soon as I buy some eggplant.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 5:59 PM

This is seriously one of the most delicious things ever. And I'm not even an eggplant fan.

Go, eggs! Go, mom!

And so glad you guys are digging this section! Will be posting a recipe once a week all summer long! Stay tuned!

Jess | 6:58 PM

Great recipe!! I'm very excited to try it! I read this article recently and it made me sad (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/01/AR2010060100792.html?sid=ST2010060101402) I still buy as many farm eggs as I can because of the humane treatment of the chickens but I'm shocked that a blind taste test of store vs. farm eggs failed!

Anonymous | 7:15 PM

I am eating Persian Eggs, literally, RIGHT NOW. Very tasty, thanks for sharing!!

--Kate

Anonymous | 7:15 PM

I am eating Persian Eggs, literally, RIGHT NOW. Very tasty, thanks for sharing!!

--Kate

ERM | 7:31 PM

I LOVE your mama! You are both wonderful and it's easy to see the apple doesn't fall far from the (organic) tree!

lacy | 11:04 PM

Rebecca -Thank you for the new addition to your blog!!! Food is always a hard thing for me to conquer for my family and I can use all the help. Wendy, you rock!

Cláudia | 2:08 AM

Thanks, Wendy!

pawpaw | 2:24 AM

Can you substitute the eggplant with anything? I'm allergic to it :(

Charlotte | 4:56 AM

The picture of the factory-farmed egg almost made me cry. Think of those poor chickens who are trying their best to do their job under such horrible conditions. Farmer's Market eggs, in contrast? YUM-O!

Speaking of which ... awesome recipes. Will def try the aubergine!

Charlotte | 4:56 AM

The picture of the factory-farmed egg almost made me cry. Think of those poor chickens who are trying their best to do their job under such horrible conditions. Farmer's Market eggs, in contrast? YUM-O!

Speaking of which ... awesome recipes. Will def try the aubergine!

Sarah | 6:46 AM

Thank you, WWW! Great recipes, I can’t wait to try these out on my family. I really enjoyed your critique on farm fresh vs. store bought eggs. I am lucky and have a guy at work who has a farm and brings us fresh eggs once a week. They are delicious and exactly as you said; bright yellow yolk and the white is not runny. Huge difference in the taste, too.

Rebecca, I love that your mom said BFF ;)

Adrianne | 7:15 AM

I was thinking of the Dooce as well:)

Thanks for the recipe! I have to admit I've never tried eggplant- I think it's like mushrooms: I decided I didn't like it as a kid and have never tried it since. I really need to learn to expand my horizons! Thanks again; I love this section.

Elle vee | 7:40 AM

My favorite way to eat eggs (and the only way my husband will eat them) is in the Italian way, kind of like Eggs Parmagiana.

Use leftover tomato sauce, and this is really quick and easy.

Heat about 1/4-1/2" of tomato sauce in large skillet or frying pan. Once bubbling, turn head down and break 5-6 eggs evenly spaced around the pan. Place in either shredded or sliced mozzarella around the egg yolks, covering the egg whites and sauce. Cover and let simmer until yolks are mostly firm and mozzarella is melted.

Scoop it out, top with chopped basil, and serve with Italian bread. This is so delicious!!!

elle vee | 7:41 AM

Oh, curried scrambled eggs with naan bread is amazing too.

Caitie | 7:51 AM

Awesome meal ideas! Food is capital E expensive in Switzerland, and I need a few dishes that don't cost us a fortune. The eggs I've bought over here so far all have deep marigold-orange yolks. I was only used to seeing that anemic yellow before, so I feel better eating these eggs and knowing they have such strict laws on animal welfare here in Switzerland. Can't wait for more recipes!

Wendy Woolf | 7:55 AM

Pawpaw, okra has a similar consistency, although you would need to be saute it in a hot pan to get rid of the slime. I've never tried it as a substitute, but you could try it. I bet if you cooked zucchini until really soft, you could use that, too (would have to drain to get excess liquid out of it). Thank you, everyone, for all of the other egg recipes! I am so excited to try them!

Jessica | 9:11 AM

Just think. Someday OUR daughters might be bloggers. And feature US as guest posters. Your mom's entry is as top notch as Pioneer Woman's, gotta say.

mrs.notouching | 9:43 AM

Awesome - and I don't even like to cook. Would it be possible for you to add a function to your website that would allow me to get just "print the recipe" thing? I just wanted the ingredients and the steps without having to waste ink on pictures or ads on the side. But I will copy paste this in the word for now. Thanks again!

Helen | 11:28 AM

Thanks for the discussion about eggs... they are one of my favourite foods and I look forward to trying the recipes. For quick, cheap, simple and satisfying I don't think you can beat Orangette's cabbage with hot sauce with a couple of soft fried eggs on top. I love the way the yolks run into the fiery vegetable. Yum! Recipe here:
http://orangette.blogspot.com/2009/01/best-we-can-hope-for.html

Rich Goldsmith | 12:36 PM

Good eggs are the difference between perfect poached eggs and bizarrely shaped rubbery pucks.

Oh, and an egg sandwich with cheese is one of the greatest foods known to mankind. Especially when bagels are involved.

Katie | 1:15 PM

Thanks so much, Woolf Women, for this awesome post! Wendy, I notice you mentioned goat milk a couple of times. Do you get yours anywhere special? I live in San Diego and would love a recommendation. Thanks!

My Persian Kitchen | 3:26 PM

Wow, this is an awesome post! I never thought I would see a Persian recipe on your blog GGC!! This was such a pleasant surprise! Mirza Ghassemi is such a delicious dish.

We usually buy our eggs from the Torrance farmers' market. They taste so much better than store bought ones.

In Persian Cuisine we have a few vegetarian egg dishes, "Kuku," that are delicious and simple to make. :)

My Persian Kitchen | 3:27 PM

Wow, this is an awesome post! I never thought I would see a Persian recipe on your blog GGC!! This was such a pleasant surprise! Mirza Ghassemi is such a delicious dish.

We usually buy our eggs from the Torrance farmers' market. They taste so much better than store bought ones.

In Persian Cuisine we have a few vegetarian egg dishes, "Kuku," that are delicious and simple to make. :)

Wendy Woolf | 3:53 PM

Katie, I love Meyenberg goat milk, and their goat butter is to DIE for...I don't use any other butter. The other great goat farm is Redwood Hill Farms. I buy both of them at Jimbos or Henry's (Henry's doesn't have the flavored kefirs and butter but has the goat milk). I have researched both farms and the goats are raised ethically and with love. And "My Persian Cuisine", I am going to make your Kuku recipe. It is perfect! I have lots of zucchini from my garden and am always looking for good recipes. :)

Baby in Broad | 4:22 PM

I don't eat eggs, but I adore your mom.

Daisy | 6:03 PM

That chicken coop looks great. It looks really easy and accessible to the average suburbanite.

I am very lucky that my semi-rural in-laws keep chickens and share their beautiful eggs with us. Their chickens are happy and the quality of the eggs is egg-cellent! It is really interesting to see the various sizes and shapes when they aren't sorted in a factory.

Eggs are highly underrated. They make quick, easy and delicious meals. Thanks for a wonderful post!

Katie | 8:06 PM

Excellent, thank you! And also, I'm sure you've tried it, but if you haven't, Spring Hill Cheese Co's goat cheddar is truly sublime. I'm not sure if they're at the North County farmer's markets, but they're at Little Italy and Hillcrest for sure. (And Little Italy has Schaner eggs, which I decree the best eggs in all the land...should you ever need a different source.)

rfarnsworth | 5:26 AM

I own an Eglu and I would recommend it to anybody - easy to clean and maintain and they look great. I have two very happy chickens and the eggs they produce are the standard that you just can't buy in the shop. Nothing beats a poached egg which was laid only moments ago.

mrs.notouching | 12:17 PM

Eating Mirza Ghassemi right now! And ya'll? It's ok to be jealous... so delicious I am not sure if I'm going to leave any for my napping kid! xoxo

ThiliBlooms | 12:37 PM

huummm it looks yummy! thanks for the recipe, I`ll try it soon :)

Siobhan | 2:25 PM

We are meat eaters but when I showed this recipe to my husband (the cheif meat eater) he immediately said, "we need to make this."

Thank you!

dietplaid | 5:09 PM

My friend's family just got 3 guinea fowls and 4 chickens. I am so jealous! No eggs yet, but his mom served up an amazing onion and artichoke heart quiche. I love eggs.

Beth | 9:02 AM

Thanks for the mention in your great blog about eggs! We at Animal Welfare Approved are proud of our farmers who raise their animals with high welfare and sustainably. If you know a farmer who might be interested in our free certification, send them our way. Visit http://www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org

Remember, ask for PASTURED EGGS from hens raised outdoors on pasture!

leslie knight | 6:58 PM

persian eggs are my new favorite food. especially for when my husband is at work. had it for dinner tonight, and it was amazing.

dirtdonthurtmom | 3:51 PM

We just got 5 chickens for our backyard...and we have a veggie garden:)
They are a little young to go roaming around with our cats in the yard...so we'll see how the veggies do in six or so months:)

I am most excited about the eggs. I can't wait for my own eggs.

Anonymous | 5:00 PM

Appreciate the sharing of the recipe, but have to confess, the Mirza was a complete shut-out at our house. I really am a good cook, and it *looked* like it should...but none of us like the taste of turmeric and the eggplant was...well, pretty slimy. But then, none of us really care for Middle Eastern food - I kept trying to eat hummus when I was pregnant, and it was as bland as wallpaper paste, even when homemade. And I like chickpeas!

And quinoa....UGH. I've tried fixing it no less than six times because everyone keeps touting it as such a wonderful food, and it always tastes like styrofoam pellets. About the only thing worse is tofu - which I won't eat or feed my daughter because of the appalling way soybeans are raised. Might as well drink pesticides and have done with it.

I love quiches; hubby won't eat them (ex-wife used to use that instant quiche-in-a-box and the mere thought makes him shudder.) But we do a lot of poached, particularly poached over salmon or over spinach and cheese.

One note about the eggs: While I agree the 'happy' eggs are better, I wouldn't recommend people keep them unless they actually know what they're doing. My grandmother kept chickens when I was growing up, so I spent more time than I ever really wanted to around them. Great eggs -- but a LOT of work.

Chicken coops are pretty odoriferous and you can pick up some nasty diseases if you don't use proper protection when cleaning them. Your neighbors may not appreciate it, and if you got downwind of an improperly cleaned coop on a hot summer day, you wouldn't blame them. Also, you'd best be prepared to learn how to kill, clean and cut up a chicken. (And yes, I've helped my grandmother do that.) Chickens do get to the end of their laying, and unless you want to keep up a coopful of non-laying hens, you'll have to figure out something to do with them. It's also a twice a day commitment for food and water - more on the latter in the summer. People should also be certain they actually have space and the proper facilities for humane and careful care of the chickens as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people haven't a clue about what that means. Our local SPCA recently rescued the survivors of a coopful of chickens being 'cared' for by a would-be farmer who swanned off for three days and figured the automatic waterer would do its job without supervision. (Obviously, it didn't.) Add in 100+ degree heat and you have a lot of dead and rotting chickens. Now, that's inhumane.

In short, it's not all just happy eggs. :) There's a lot of work and responsibility involved. Might be best to just be picky about what you buy!

Last but not least, those boycotting ALL meat because of one program need to rethink what they're doing. Please don't just boycott meat in general. That only hurts the small, ethical family farms, not the big producers. Please do what one poster said he was doing and search for ethically grown meat and support small family farms. They're the ones who get hurt in the long run.

Thanks. :)