Egg-actly Wonderful!

Photo Courtesy of Sunday Child
All Photos Courtesy of Sunday’s Child

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
― Julia Child

I have a confession to make. When my husband wanted to raise chickens a few years ago, I was not in favor of it.

Yes, it’s true. I pictured my grandfather’s chicken coop, messy and scary with cackling chickens all around my feet, just scaring the beeswax out of me.

Well, here I am all these years later, admitting the truth. I love fresh eggs. Jim and our daughter Michelene have kept their word and they’ve taken good care of the chickens, all without any responsibility on my part. That was the other thing I was wary of. That the care of the chickens would become my responsibility.

Nothing of the sort has happened. And in the meantime the delicious yellow yolks, bright as sunshine, coupled with the delicate white have graced our table many times. In any way shape or form, the eggs are delicious. Scrambled or sunny side up with a side of toast, or cracked into the latest cake, those eggs have become a part of our lives.

Now some of you know I have been blessed to have a blogger friend on the west coast, Sunday’s Child. She began her own love affair with chickens last year! She has an awesome coop and has just embraced the whole chicken raising thing, chick and caboodle.

Daffodils and the EggRecently, Ms. Child began to place her light brown or green eggs amongst her pitcher collection or in other very creative places and snap beautiful artistic pictures. The juxtapositioning of the eggs! The beauty of the pitchers! The sunny yellow of the daffodils! My oh my, my heart was singing!

I casually mentioned to Ms. Child that she ought to consider a coffee table book with those spectacular pictures, alongside say some great egg stories and perhaps some yummy egg recipes. At first she said, “Haha, funny, yes, you and I would be the only ones buying the book!”

But then her friends started to tell her the same thing. I sent her an email and she said someone had mentioned the coffee table book idea to her right before I did. (I think there are no coincidences!)

So we are exploring this idea of an artistic, yet country style EGG BOOK. What do you think? Are you an egg lover yourself? Do you have an inspiring egg story to share? Better yet, do you have an original or favorite egg recipe that you’ve made for years? Believe me the simplier the better. I love easy recipes.

Please share your thoughts and ideas with us. If you want to email me privately at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com, that’s fine. If not, leave a comment below and I’ll know egg-actly how you feel!

Elephant and the Egg

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Grace at the Source

Farmer's Table 1

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” -Brillat-Savarin

The picture above is not out of a story book- it is for real. If you look closely, you’ll see tables of people at the V of the stone wall. It is right there that my friend Cathy and I had our first Farm to Table dinner.

We were at Manchester Farms and Left Bower Farm in beautiful Avella, Pennsylvania. The farmhouse is from the early 1800’s and is a real stunner.

I read about Jacob Mains and his Farm to Table dinners recently in our local newspaper. I was immediately smitten and am actually trying to figure out a way for us to work together (more about that on another post!) given my background in events planning. After reading about the dinner, I recruited my organic loving friend Cathy to go with me to our first ever farm sourced food event.

Farmer's Table 2What unfolded was an amazing evening under a blue summer sky. Vegetables that had only been picked out of the ground earlier that day were served beautifully on a white plate, exhibiting all their natural qualities. Diced beets, roasted turnips, kale, cabbage and fresh lettuce greens were featured, as was a delicious dairy cheese. There were yummy meatballs made with beef right from the farm. And to top it all off, a dessert of vanilla creme, topped with fresh berries from the farm next door. And did I mention the cookie? A delicious butter cookie made with butter from the farm was nestled into the dessert. Yes, I broke up the cookie in little pieces and dipped it into the vanilla creme and strawberries!

Cathy and I had to pinch ourselves several times as we met some amazing people. From Jacob and his parents, to Margie and Dave the farm owners, to the talkative radio station owner we sat next to, we were just in awe of the entire evening and the karma of the whole night.

Jacob and his Grandfather
Jacob and his Grandfather

There is something magical about eating outside, among beautiful surroundings, with happy people and enjoying food that is minimally handled and served in its natural grace. When bounty is pulled from the ground and nourishes us heart and soul, there is something very fulfilling and joyful about that experience.

I hope you live in an area where you have access to a farm or farmer’s markets. Please make an effort to support CSA- Community Supported Agriculture– when available. This dinner was an amazing event, one that I hope I will experience again and again!

Thank you to Drew Nicholas for sharing these photos with me!

What’s your favorite farmer’s market or place to buy locally sourced food?

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Nourishment….Body and Soul

IMAG0071

We are spiritual beings living a human life. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lately, I’ve been pondering a different approach to taking better care of myself. I have been thinking about Body and Soul. Sure, it’s a phrase that’s been around forever. But I’m taking it to heart and realizing that one without the other is like walking around with only one shoe.

First, SOUL. I am better at taking care of my spiritual self. Devoting a portion of my non working hours to service work is spiritually fulfilling for me.  This blog and you, my reader, are part of my spiritual life. Spiritual reading, volunteer work and even prayer and meditation are important parts of my soul work.

Now when it comes to BODY, that is a different issue all together.

Menopause (or, insert issue of choice here) has reeked havoc on my physical body. I am abit overweight, tired and admittedly, over sugared. This is where some change needs to occur. My thickening middle has me a bit depressed and there is really no one that can change that except me.

Though I have been trying to do little things to build a healthier me, I’ve not done a good job managing my weight. I rationalize it with my many obligations, stresses, weather, you name it. But deep down I know I really want to take better care of my “temple”.

At this point I have to tell you I don’t believe in diets. I don’t think they work. Having watched friends gain and lose the same pounds over and over through various diets, I believe the mental state of “diet” is starvation. That may not be the case, but perhaps the word reeks a mental manipulation within the heads of its participants. I’d rather make positive changes to eat healthier and get enough exercise.

I want to believe there is a direct correlation between faith and food. If I treat my body as the temple for my soul, does that make me want to treat it better? Yes, it does. So that is what I’m going to try.

By placing food in the same mental bracket as faith, I hope to change how I feed myself. By taking a moment to reflect and notice what I’m putting in my mouth and why, I hope to give my body a bit more respect. The respect it really deserves.

Are you better at Body or Soul? Or both? What works for you?

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Gifts from my Grandmother

Yiayia In Her Busy Kitchen

If God had intended us to follow recipes,
He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.
~Linda Henley

The older I get, the more I appreciate my grandmother. Though she has been gone a long time, my memories of her lately are stronger than ever. And more and more, I realize the great gifts she gave me that are very much a part of me.

Whenever I cut a good tomato, fresh from the garden, I think of my Yiayia. My grandfather always put in a big garden and by August, there were plenty of fresh vegetables to be had. Yiayia would make summer salads with her beautiful leaf lettuce and lots of those really red tomatoes.

I love having Basil around!

She also loved fresh basil and would frequently cut a small piece to put behind her ear. She’d walk up from her garden, the basil leaves facing front and she’d have a big smile on her face. I think she just loved the smell of it and liked keeping it close to her. These days, I love basil and we frequently grow a couple of big basil plants every summer. Rubbing the leaves between my fingers and smelling the fresh scent is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t remember if Yiayia cooked with her basil (I imagine she did!) but I love to snip up the leaves and put fresh basil on everything from roasted vegetables to green salads.

As with most grandmas, Yiayia was an excellent cook. She made everything from scratch, mixing most ingredients together with her hands. She had a big ceramic ware bowl she would use to make Greek avgolemeno soup. As a young child, she would let me use her hand held rotary beaters and I’d beat those chicken eggs to a frothy yellow. She’d have homemade chicken broth with rice all ready to go, and we’d add my yellowy beaten eggs to the hot broth just a little bit at a time. She’d finish it off with some lemon juice and the result would be a smooth, slightly lemony chicken soup that was just out of this world. I don’t ever remember seeing a recipe written down for it; I’m sure she didn’t need one.

Holidays were a big deal to her. At Christmas and Easter she’d roast a leg of lamb and do all the fancy sides: Greek oregano potatoes sliced longways into quarters and baked in the oven, a big salad with tomatoes and feta cheese, Easter bread with a red hard boiled egg baked right into it, little black eyed peas drizzled with olive oil and lemon. There was always amazing food at her table during the holidays.

I think the most important gift my Yiayia gave me was her example of what hospitality should be. When you had dinner at her house, she pulled out all the stops. The linen tablecloth and napkins came out, her most beautiful serving pieces and china were polished and displayed, candles were lit. I can remember numerous times when the table would be so full with multiple selections of food, we hardly had a place to eat!

It it really those great times, those “eating” times, that make me realize how lucky we really were. To have had her among us, teaching us all those traditional things that to her came so easily….what a gift!

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Make Way for the Spring Chickens!

In honor of Spring, I want to invite you over and tell you about our chickens. My husband Jim got bit by the chicken bug a few years ago. A friend of the family happened to give us a baby rooster. That baby rooster somehow fostered a fowl love story for my husband and daughter.

The rooster has long passed on but my husband’s love for chickens has only grown. I have to say, I was not thrilled when I found baby chickens in an incubator in my garage a few years ago. I swore that I would not help with them- ever- because I was so bent on not adding one more responsibility to my full plate. Obviously the chickens have persisted and thrived, due largely in part to my husband’s and daughter’s care. They provide us with ample, or more like an abundance, of eggs.

Initially, I was so skeptical of the eggs that I only used them in cake mixes or as ingredients in recipes. I was a bit nervous about eating them hard boiled, fried sunny side up or scrambled. After a few dozen eggs wasted on cake mixes, I realized my ridiculousness and fried up a few. I was forever changed.

There is something special about the eggs. They are fresh of course but without all the modern things done to the poor commercial chickens, there is a distinctive difference in the taste of them. They are the true definition of Organic. Even their appearance is different. The shells are much thicker and the yolk yellower. Scrambled eggs come out the color of sunshine.

My mother called me recently and warned me about a salmonella scare regarding eggs. She didn’t realize our eggs are salmonella- proof.  There is no way our eggs could have ANYTHING other than goodness.

During warm evenings, Jim lets the chickens out of their coop to run around the yard, scratch and eat bugs. Our trusty yellow lab Ms. Jordan guards them with a sharp eye, her motivation being her daily treat of a delicious egg. Letting the chickens run around the yard like this used to be another source of  annoyance, but “the girls” (nickname for the chickens) have won me over.

As you can see by the pictures, we don’t have the run of the mill white chickens. We have Araucanas and Buff Orpingtons. Their eggs are a beautiful soft green and light brown color. It’s convenient for Easter as we will probably just hard boil them!

If you have a bit of space in your back yard, the motivation and a good chicken book or mentor, there’s no reason you can’t have your own chickens. Just remember to make the coop very secure or intruders like raccoons, possums or foxes will make a delicacy of your chickens.

I have to admit, there is something about being able to live off your own land that makes life a bit more meaningful. When we plant our garden in the summer and have abundant vegetables, I remind myself how lucky we are to be able to grow and provide food for ourselves.  Jim’s newest hobby is bees and he’s put in a couple of hives. I can taste the honey already. I’ll bring you around again when I’m ready for that story.

A big thank you to my daughter Michelene Cain, for these beautiful pictures!

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1015

My Idea of Heaven

On my way home there is a spot on the highway where, if the sun is setting and it’s in exactly the right spot, the brilliance of the rays captures my attention and inspires me to think of heaven.

One day it was lightly raining when I was approaching this spot and I wished I had a camera in my car to capture the image. It was sunny, rainy and hazy all at once (like potential rainbow kind of weather). When my car began to go further into the yellowy haze, I felt momentarily engulfed. For a brief second, I was scared. Then I was not. Then, I was in awe. I wondered is this what the entrance to heaven may be like? The experience lasted less than one minute. But I can bring it up in my mind anytime and I often do.

I grew up hearing about heaven and hell in church. My take on religion when I was a child and later into adulthood was that you either behaved or you were done for. God was the big police officer in the sky.

Thankfully, I no longer believe in a punishing God. I believe in a loving, forgiving God and a God with an occasional great sense of humor. My current views of heaven therefore, can involve some silly stuff. I’ll save some of my thoughts for another blog post, but today I want to share with you my absolute favorite idea of what heaven could be.

various potato dishes: potato chips, hashbrown...
Yay! Endless Potatoes!

My favorite idea of heaven is that of endless potatoes. Yes, you read correctly- potatoes. Potatoes in every way shape or form. Crispy french fries with melted cheese and crumbled bacon on them. Mashed yukon gold potatoes with lots of butter and maybe some roasted garlic cloves smashed into them. Baked potatoes with lots of butter and sour cream. Even sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar.

Get the idea? And, of course none of these would contain any calories whatsoever. I would just eat and eat to my heart’s potato content and none of my potato feasts would show up anywhere on my stomach or thighs!

When I am with potatoes, nothing else really matters but the potatoes. Meat be gone! Salad….for bunnies! I love potatoes! Hopefully, when I walk through those pearly gates, God will be standing there with a big plate of yes, cheesy potatoes!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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