Thursday, March 29, 2012

eggs galore

 The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on March 28, 2012.


Our chickens have gone gangbusters. For several weeks we were getting only one egg daily, maybe two. And then the chickens laid eleven eggs in a single day. Eleven! Just like that we were flooded.

My kids are head-over-heels excited by all the egg laying. Even though we’ve had chickens for years, the springtime explosion comes as a delightful surprise each time—it’s like a perpetual Easter Egg hunt but without the sugar and plastic grass. The children make countless trips to the coop each day, and when they find two (or six, or ten) eggs, they cart them back up to the house in their shirts.

As they bang through the screen door with their loot, there’s always a report of some sort. Sometimes it’s the number, shouted out at the top of their lungs, but other times it’s an announcement about the impressive size, either extra small or extra large, or the news that one got slightly cracked or one had a bit of blood on it (ouch). My youngest child always sings the first few bars of “Happy Birthday” to me as he piles the green and brown little gifts into the metal egg bowl that sits on the counter.

My younger daughter spends a sizeable portion of her day down by the chicken coop. There is a long skinny door right above the nesting boxes so the eggs can be collected outside the coop. She opens that door and stands there, waiting for the eggs drop. “They’re sticky when they come out,” she informed me once, awe and surprise in her voice.

And the other day my older daughter came running in, brandishing an egg. “I heard a thump!” she squealed. “The chicken laid it right in the sunshine so it was glowing!”

Now that we’re swimming in eggs, once or twice a week we make a Dutch Puff for breakfast. Dutch Puff is an egg-rich oven pancake similar to Dutch Baby or Yorkshire pudding. It’s one of the kids’ all-time favorite breakfasts. Because the batter is mixed up and left to soak overnight, it’s a fairly quick hot breakfast, making it one of my favorites, too.

Some people add sugar and spices to the batter, but I don’t bother. The children drizzle theirs with syrup, and sometimes if I want to make the puff stretch further (one pan is barely enough to feed the four kids), I get a box of berries out of the freezer and mix up a pot of warm vanilla pudding to serve, too.

Dutch Puff

Dutch Puff rises sky-high in the oven but promptly deflates when out. In order to make the best impression, gather everyone to the table before taking the puff from the oven.

8 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour (I use half whole-wheat pastry flour)
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
5 tablespoons butter

The night before:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Beat in the flour and salt, and then the milk. Cover the bowl with plastic (or a shower cap) and let sit on the counter, or in the fridge, overnight.

Put the butter in a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.

In the morning:
Turn the oven to 350 degrees and slip the pan into the oven. When the butter has melted (watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn), take the pan from the oven and swirl gently to coat the sides and bottom. Whisk the batter thoroughly and pour it into the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the puff is billowing over the sides of the pan and the edges are a dark golden brown. Serve immediately.

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