All You Can Eat
Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.
May 19, 2008 11:05 AM
Posted by Nancy Leson
If you've ever thought about raising chickens in your backyard, and missed reading Nicole Tsong's ode to the urban chicken coop Saturday in NW Home & Life, give it a read. I think about raising chickens all the time, because there's something really special about a fresh-laid egg, and I've got enough room in the backyard for a nice-sized coop. But then, I think, why bother? For one, between the two geriatric dogs and the four fish aquariums in need of constant care, plus the ever-propogating stick bugs in their insect cage (a birthday gift given to my son from some crack-pot friends of ours -- don't get me started), do we really need more pets?
And then there's another reason I don't need chickens: My friend and neighbor, Lori Cooper (who certainly has the right name for the job) has a chicken coop in her backyard, just a dog's bark away:
Her girls -- Bella and Sweetie (Blue Silkies) and Lovey (a Cochin) -- lay the cutest, golden-yolked eggs. This weekend Lori sent her kids up to my house (the human kind, she hasn't gotten any pygmy goats -- yet), toting some of their birds' bounty, seen here nesting in a soup bowl:
I immediately grabbed a few, melted some butter (OK, a lot of butter), and fried 'em:
Why did I use so much butter? The Devil Ducky made me do it:
What's interesting to me is the difference in the size, color of the yolk, and of course, the taste, in various kinds of chicken eggs, as seen in that Devil Ducky photo above. I don't usually have three different types of eggs in my fridge, but just before Lori shared hers, I'd bought a dozen at a local farmers market ($3.50) to supplement the "Cage Free, Grain Fed, Naturally Prefered, Large, Grade A Brown Eggs" I'd recently bought at the supermarket ($2.59). Below, you'll see the three different type of eggs in their shells (store-bought on the left, Lori's in the middle, farmers market eggs on the right):
And here, below, is a look at the raw product (the smaller, darker yolk at the top is from one of Lori's girls, the big one's the store-bought, and the little anemic-looking one on the bottom right, I'm surprised (and sorry) to report, is a watery egg from the farmers market:
About an hour ago, I went across the street to thank "the girls" for their largess. I brought them some soaked bread as a treat. They also eat fresh uncooked corn-on-the-cobb, feed from Bothell Feed & Hay, chicken scratch (which Lori says is like "chicken candy") and ground oyster-shells -- all of which may help explain that deep, dark orange color. Lori insists her girls lay delicious eggs because they get "lots of lovin.'" And knowing how much lovin' Lori's got to give, that doesn't surprise me one bit.
I found Lovey home on the free-range:
Sweetie was hiding somewhere, re-coop-erating from a boxing match with a neighborhood cat (don't get Lori started). And here's Bella resting in her hen-house:
Well, gotta run! All this talk about eggs is making me hungry, and I've yet to eat breakfast and get down to the office. Think I'll go make myself a few eggs:
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Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.