OK, I’ll admit it… I’m totally turning into a farm-geek. Harvesting and gathering your own food is just plain fun (particularly since we were not involved in the hard work of prepping the garden or planting anything… just reaping the benefits). It’s like Easter egg hunting. Digging through the potato hill, not sure if there is anything left until your hands start raking in the ruby red tubers. Little Man loves pulling up root vegetables, especially beets. He grabs the leafy greens and then leans back with all of his might until either the root gives way or the greens do. I have had to start restraining myself at the farm garden, always reason to come back tomorrow. We have free reign in the garden, but it is not our’s and I don’t want to abuse our privileges there. Even so I often find myself making excuses to go back to the garden or asking Little Man if he wants to go say “hi” to the chickens just so that I can say “hi” too.
My favorite thing to do is gather eggs. There is something about walking into the chicken coup, the scent of sweet hay and a little bit of chicken funk, but it just makes me smile. Novella Carpenter in her hilarious discussion of urban farming in an Oakland ghetto (Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer) describes chickens as the gateway animal to urban farming. After a couple of weeks living on the farm I can totally see her point. We plan on staying here for quite some time, but when we do eventually leave… don’t tell Dave, but I would really like to be somewhere that we could have chickens.
Speaking of Dave, a couple of days ago he came home from working at the university to be greeted by a happy toddler who invited him to go say “hi” to the chickens. We went to take the short cut to the chicken coup through the back yard, which Little Man calls the “hair cut.” He heard us call the short path to the garden behind our house as the “short cut,” but didn’t know the word so now it is “hair cut.” Usually when Little Man greets the chickens he says “Helloooo Laadiessss.” Today was different. He walked up to the coup, threw his arms wide and yelled “hello ladies and gentle-gnomes!” Dave and I smiled at each other and in unison said “good evening ladies and gentle-chickens!”
We went into the coup and were greeted by Little Man’s “ladies.” Our plan for the eggs was built on yesterday’s botched brunch. Little Man, while trying to hold it together in a marathon grocery shopping expedition said that he would like pancakes for brunch. I made a rookie mistake and promised my beautiful, curly-haired boy that he would have pancakes… and then we got to the restaurant 30 minutes after they stopped doing breakfast. Oh bother! So to atone for my error, dinner that night was a pancake breakfast. Specifically we had pancakes made from a Bauder Camp recipe (I miss those cocktail cruises!), homemade turkey sausage patties and oven-roasted home potatoes. I’ll share those recipes at another time. For our purposes in this post I am going to share the recipe that came the day after our pancake breakfast for dinner. We ended up having a good amount of sausage and potatoes left over, and in our house that can only mean one thing… frittata.
A frittata is like a large omelet, but it’s even better since you don’t have to flip or fold it. That means it can be easily turned into a fast, delicious dinner. I have included a link to the frittata recipe below, and it is based off of the left overs that we had in our house that evening. You don’t have to make a pancake breakfast for dinner in order to prep for this meal the next night… but it’s a great excuse to do so.
One “trick” I use for frittatas is something that I learned from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals cookbook. To make a frittata that provides four servings (the leftovers are great the next day!), I start with eight eggs. If the eggs are small I might add another to round it out. The trick is to only use four whole eggs and four egg whites, ditching four of the yolks. My brother is moaning right now, but by getting rid of those yolks I can decrease the amount of fat and bad cholesterol in the dish. Dave and I are both a bit rounder than we would like, and lowering overall bad cholesterol in our diets is another goal. So there you go. You can keep or ditch those four yolks as you see fit. I haven’t found any loss of flavor, richness or overall awesomeness in my frittatas since I started doing this.
One last frittata trick… Many of the recipes that I’ve read and seen demonstrated on TV require that you get out an extra plate, flip the darn thing when it’s mostly cooked onto the plate, and then invert it again into the skillet to finish cooking. It looks simple on TV. I’m sure my issues with this have been a result of a lack of patience or my overall clumsiness, but I have burned my hands and splattered my stove (and countertops… and cupboards…) enough that I gave that technique up. Instead, I cover the frittata pan with a lid immediately after I add the eggs. This lets the top set up through the steam released from its cooking. Once the eggs are set up nicely I remove the lid, sprinkle on a bit of grated cheese and pop the thing under the broiler for a minute or too to brown it up. That way you get the crispy browning of the top that you would otherwise miss from not flipping it. No more burned fingers (or at least less), no more messy stove and surrounding area (or at least less), and the resulting frittata is stunning in its caramelized cheesy glory.
It’s true. Fat = flavor, and I often prefer to keep rich foods in all their fatty glory. However, not everyone is possessed of my uber-metabolism. In recent history, in fact, I have been known to cut the amount of chili brick in our chili in half and make up for it with chili powder since that’s where most of the fat is. You are shocked to your core, I’m sure. In the future, I want to grow a wide variety of chiles, and dry or roast them to come up with my own low-fat chili brick.