My love affair with eggs started 15 years ago when Jake was in third grade participating in “Egg in the classroom.” This is a wonderful program through 4-H that brings eggs into the classroom to hatch and suck kids into the poultry cult. Just kidding, well kind of. Jake fell in love with chickens and wanted to bring a few home. His cow lovin’ dad responded with “bummer.” The story doesn’t end there but takes a strange twist. Paul said we needed to call Dr. Monke (pronounced Monkey) who is a veterinarian at Select Sires that loves chickens. This may sound like crazy talk but yes, a cattle veterinarian has made genetic advances in the chicken world.
With chickens in mind, we headed over to Dr. Monke’s house, where chickens are treated like kings and queens. Needless to say we ended up taking three Austrolorp chicken teenage pullet sisters home with us, followed up by a quick stop to TSC to fill up the cart with chicken “stuff” to put in our cow barn.
“Pecker,” “Fluffer” and “Skipper” were the start of Jake’s 10-year adventure with chickens. From chicken heart attacks to a science fair green eggs project to the Dixie Chicks (registered red island red bantams) being mailed from Alabama, we met a lot of chicken people and learned a lot of chicken information — information a cow-loving Dad never thought he needed to know.
Google said there are more chickens in the world than any other species of birds or domestic animals. Ohio ranks second in egg production in the U.S. producing more than seven billion eggs yearly with an estimated value of nearly $600 million. Ohio has 30 million laying hens and 10 million pullets (hens less than one year old). Hurrays go to Darke and Mercer counties for being the top two egg producing counties in the U.S. While the egg/chicken industry has dealt with animal welfare criticism in recent years, Ohio egg farmers have adopted broad animal welfare guidelines to provide environments to hens that are safe, humane and disease-free.
Celebrate National Egg Month in May with Ohio’s huge impact in this industry. Even with increasing egg prices, eggs continue to provide the cheapest animal protein for your buck. An egg costs about 15 to 20 cents and provides 75 calories, and six grams of protein. Eggs are low in sodium and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. Research shows that eggs are high in choline and may also help prevent age-related memory decline. I am facing another birthday this month, so I am all for that!
Backyard chickens are becoming very popular and are so easy. If you select the crossbreds specifically, three chickens can produce over two dozen eggs a week. They are easy to care for with minimal amount of space and supplies. Check out OSU Extension which has information and often classes for beginning backyard poultry “farming.” Over the 10 years Jake had chickens, we had a lot of eggs in the house. The things both crafty and edible you can do with eggs are endless. Celebrate National Egg month with these recipes and the abundance of Ohio Eggriculture!
Eat well and healthy!
Berry Pocket Eggy Bread www.jamieoliver.com
2 large eggs
1 small ripe banana
2 thick slices of seeded whole wheat bread
5 oz. raspberries
20 g shelled pistachios
4 heaped tablespoons fat-free plain yogurt
In a blender, blitz the eggs, peeled banana, and 1 pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon until smooth, then pour into a wide shallow bowl. Cut your bread 1 inch thick, then cut a slit into the longest side of each slice and wiggle your knife inside to make a pocket. Use your finger to stuff the raspberries inside – pack as many in as you can, but be gentle so you don’t tear the bread. Lay in the eggy mixture and gently squash the bread so it soaks up the eggs.
Meanwhile, put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat with 1 teaspoon of oil, then wipe it around and out with kitchen paper. Pour half the excess egg mixture into one side of the pan, then place a piece of soaked bread on top to give it a lovely pancake layer. Repeat with the rest of the mixture and the other slice alongside it. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden, then confidently flip over to cook for the same amount of time. Meanwhile, smash up the pistachios in a pestle and mortar – toast them first, if you like. Serve the eggy bread dolloped with yogurt, sprinkled with pistachios and an extra pinch of cinnamon and drizzled with a little honey. Serves 2: 344 calories; 14.4g fat; 18.8g pro; 6.7g fiber; 38.2g CHO
Eggs Benedict Florentine www.health.com
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (5-ounce) fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 slices (about 1 ounce each) sourdough bread, toasted
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; sauté spinach for 3 minutes until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Arrange toasted sourdough bread on 4 plates; divide spinach among toast slices and set aside. Bring a high-sided skillet filled with 2 inches of water to a simmer; add vinegar. Working one at a time, break each eggs into a ramekin and slide into simmering water. Gently poach 3 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon. Place 1 egg on top of each spinach toast (reserve last egg). In a blender, combine yolk from remaining poached egg (discard white) with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and water; blend until smooth. Add melted butter; blend to combine. Spoon hollandaise over eggs and serve immediately. Yield: Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup spinach, 1 tablespoon hollandaise, 1 egg)
Mexican Corn and Chile Bake Ohio Poultry Association
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
3 tablespoons chopped green chilies
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Evenly coat an 8-inch ovenproof skillet or 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. To make the handle of the skillet ovenproof, wrap completely in aluminum foil. In medium bowl, stir together corn, pepper, chilies, cornmeal, and chili powder. Spread evenly into prepared skillet. Sprinkle with bacon. In same bowl, beat together eggs and milk until well blended. Pour over corn mixture. Bake until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Fresh Corn and Pasta Frittata www.cookinglight.com
1 1/4 cups egg substitute
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded provolone cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup presliced mushrooms
3/4 c fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
1 cup cooked angel hair pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Green onions (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well; set aside. Wrap handle of a large nonstick skillet with foil. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, mushrooms, and corn; sauté 4 minutes or until soft. Stir in pasta until well-blended. Add egg substitute mixture; cook 2 minutes or until set around edges. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until center is set. Garnish with green onions, if desired. Serves 2: Calories 416; Fat 10.6 g; Protein 31.2 g; Carbohydrate 50.4 g; Fiber 4.8 g; Sodium 664 mg.