Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eggs, Chickens, Kitchen, & Kids

While the legality of chickens in Salem lingers on in limbo I have been fairly silent about chickens and eggs. At least fairly silent for me, which is a completely relative measurement. But no more, and especially not today.

You will not take my chickens from me. A defiant statement I realize, but it simply won't happen. I have no intention of fighting with anyone, nor am I attempting to wave a red flag by stating this, I am simply saying it.

We've reached a time in history where pasture raised chicken (chickens not kept in tiny little pens) are $4 lb and eggs from pasture raised chickens can easily be over $3 a dozen, you will not take my chickens from me. I paid over $27 for a rabbit (for eating) yesterday. Animals that once were common are now affordable to only those of flexible, or considerable, income.

It isn't just about the money though. Not by a long shot. It is much more about the beauty and richness that the experience provides us. That can not be measured, it can only attempt to be described.

I've been reading Julia Child's My Life in France. I read about her first dining experience and how customers were asking (she had to get her husband to translate for her) "how was the chicken raised?" This has left me speechless and saddened, for I know how few places I could dine at now where anyone in the restaurant could begin to know that. The world has changed, and along the way we lost something precious.

Something beautiful happened though when I to page 60 in the book. This is the 'Le Cordon Bleu' Chapter and she is talking about how Chef Bugnard taught them how to properly made scrambled eggs. Here is the excerpt from the book:

With a smile, Chef Bugnard cracked two eggs and added a dash of salt and pepper. "Like this," he said, gently blending the yolks and whites together with a fork. "Not too much."
He smeared the bottom and sides of a frying pan with butter, then gently poured the eggs in. Keeping the heat low, he stared intently at the pan. Nothing happened. After a long three minutes, the eggs began to thicken into a custard. Stirring rapidly with the fork, sliding the pan on and off the burner, Bugnard gently pulled the egg curds together -- "Keep them a little bit loose; this is very important," he instructed.
"Now the cream or butter," he said, looking at me with raised eyebrows.
"This will stop the cooking, you see?" I nodded, and he turned the scrambled eggs out onto a plate, sprinkled a bit of parsley around, and said, "Voila!"
His eggs were always perfect, and although he must have made this dish several thousand times, he always took great pride and pleasure in this performance. Bugnard insisted that one pay attention, learn the correct technique, and that one enjoy one's cooking -- "Yes, Madame Scheeld, fun!" he'd say. "Joy!"
It was a remarkable lesson. No dish, not even the humbled scrambled egg, was too much trouble for him. "You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made," he said. "Even after you eat it, it stays with you -- always."

Immediately after reading this for the first time I knew I simply had to make scrambled eggs. And so I did, and I was overcome by how delicious they were. Amazing. The best scrambled eggs I've ever had, and I've always thought I'd had some pretty darn good scrambled eggs in the past. And that first batch has stayed with me. And I am reminded of it each time I remake it. I have been so taken with this part of the book that I haven't been able to read beyond it yet.
Something so remarkable from something so simple. Amazing.

But, of course, the chickens and eggs aren't just enriching in the delicious and healthy food they provide for us. Nor in the benefits that they provide for our yard and garden, which are quite numerous as well. They are beneficial in what they have taught my children.

Tristan attends story time at the local library (a fantastic library by the way!). The week of Easter the stories revolved around eggs and there was an Easter Egg Hunt afterwards in the courtyard. ~Yes, Salem's library has a gorgeous courtyard that is enclosed by a beautiful brick wall and that contains tables situated under brightly colored umbrellas, old gnarly tree roots that beckon you to lean up against them while reading, and landscaping that makes you feel like you've stumbled upon a secret garden. All it lacks is a small pond with fish.~
While we were at the library for story time this week I was pulled aside by the girl who had happened to read to the children Easter week. She wanted to let me know something that Tristan had said.
"I was reading to them a book and in it there was an egg, but it was a robin's egg, and it had a little bird inside," she told me.
Apparently Tristan felt the need to correct her on this and tell the class what was REALLY inside of eggs. He had the full attention of all the children there as he informed them on what was really in the eggs. They began asking questions such as "how do baby birds get in the eggs?"

Since this was beginning to veer into territory beyond the simple Easter themed story the girl reading the book suggested they just get back to the book.

Aside from interrupting story time and someone reading aloud to a class, I am quite proud of Tristan. This is a subject he does know a lot about, though please remember that since we don't have a rooster we don't have fertilized eggs and the chance of chicks.
I am proud of him for being able to speak up and out on an issue he was informed on. On having the desire to want to share that knowledge with others. Of holding the attention of the other children. Especially since these are children who have likely not seen a live chicken, much less ones in a backyard setting, or petted one, or raised one, or who have been responsible for gathering fresh eggs out of the nest boxes.

Never underestimate the power of doing things for yourself. Of taking charge of your lives and the ability to provide for yourself and your family. Never underestimate the endless benefits that can come from such acts.


Sadie from said...

I'm excited for the day when everyone backs off your girls ~ seriously mama! this chicken fight is way to stressful - so wishing for a right to lay @ the blue nymph.

Carrie and Justin said...

Thank you Sadie. It is too stressful, but it is worth it to not back down. The cause is a worthy one.