Did I mention that we made the move to Vancouver Island the day after Canada Day and two days before American Independence Day? So even though I had warned our American bank that we’d be moving to Canada, an automated system caught our Canadian purchases and “temporarily” froze our account… the day before the Fourth of July… so no live person would be in the office to fix this problem until July 5. Argh! Our dilemma was discovered when we tried to buy sushi from a take-out joint for dinner. Thank goodness we had not decided to go to a sit down restaurant, had eaten our food and then found out we had no funds at all. I don’t know what we would have done. Would they accept our toddler helping us wash dishes as payment?
So we went home, frustrated and concerned about what we were going to eat that evening and the next day until the American bank opened again and freed our cash supply. Luckily the day that we unloaded our moving van I had visited the grocery store for a few staples. We had oatmeal, bananas and milk for toddler cereal in the morning, and I had also bought a bag of potatoes on the off chance that we just needed something comfort foodish… I don’t know about you, but basically any type of comfort food for me includes potato in some form. It would be another day or so before I realized our farmer friends were growing potatoes in the garden, and oh what a splendid discovery that was.
On the drive back to our sushi-less home, we remembered that we were living on a farm (yes, we were slow on the uptake that day…). Most importantly in this case, we were living on a farm that had chickens, glorious chickens. So we all put on grubby shoes and I grabbed a basket that usually held students’ papers and dropped in an unused (and unwanted) curtain as padding. As our landlords were on vacation, their friends were stopping by to take care of the animals. We had been told that we could collect eggs and eat from the garden while they were away. As we trudged up to the chicken coup, we were praying that the farm help had not completely collected all the eggs. They had not, but we will later find out that they had planned to do just that, which is a different story for a different day.
In the meantime, we needed to collect dinner. The three of us walked into the coup; or at least two of us did. The previous day our son had decided that the sheep were “too loud,” but the chickens won his heart instantly. While his love was unwavering, he was not sure about walking amongst them and instead felt safer in Dave’s arms. I can’t blame him, I’ve often felt the same way. We collected nearly 3 ½ dozen eggs that day (remember the part about other people’s plans to collect eggs? Oops!).
Later Dave and his mom would comment on how confident I looked in the hen house gathering eggs, and they asked about where I had learned to do that. My first thought was that it was egg collecting, not rocket science… or even archaeological science. Then I remembered that this actually was not my first time collecting eggs. Visiting my Grammie’s small farm as a child I had also collected eggs. I don’t think I did it often, and my main memory of this is being pecked by the chickens (not fondly). Flash forward to the in-between time of Canadian and American independence holidays and I suddenly found myself living on a farm, with a hungry husband and child waiting for my efforts. I think my long-missed grandmother was proud at that moment.
With our egg bounty we headed down to the garden for some herbs and lettuce. I found a little curly parsley, some fresh oregano and an abundance of chives. Basket overflowing and toddler in arms, we headed back to the house.
The potatoes were shredded, drained, seasoned and pan-fried into latkas like my Mom’s college roommate had taught her (this recipe will be shared in a later post). Another 8 of our eggs were transformed into what I on the spur of the moment named Chinese Eggs. I had never cooked with eggs that I had literally just collected minutes before. Just like restaurants use descriptive names to entice our appetites, I use the same tactic with our son whose favorite food in the world is Chicken Fried Rice. The only way I got him to try (and love) an amazing roasted sweet potato risotto was to call it Italian Fried Rice. I have no shame when it comes to food shenanigans that get him to eat. So our Independence Day meal (for both countries) was made up of my Mom’s Latkas, Chinese Eggs, a salad of freshly harvested lettuces and fresh herbs, tossed simply with a little olive oil, salt and white pepper.
As we ate and laughed about our farm fresh feast, washed down with a lovely, cheap Californian wine I brought in my luggage, we sent all grateful thoughts to those chickens and their absent caretakers. When Dave and I married in upstate New York, promising for better or for worse, much of what I was thinking about was the difficulties of life as an academic, especially for two academics in the same field. I certainly did not imagine (in dream or nightmare) living on a farm, feeding my amazing family with the bounty that we had literally just collected from the ground 30 minutes prior. All in all, this was a pretty good way to celebrate independence.
I named these “Chinese” Eggs in honor of my profuse amount of chives, which reminded me of an amazing sautéed flowering chive dish I’d had at a much missed restaurant in upstate New York. Using the catch word “Chinese” was also a ploy to entice my son to try them. He usually does not like scrambled eggs, but he LOVES Chinese food. In this case the ruse worked and he gobbled them up! If you are curious as to why I only used half of the yolks in this recipe, I did that in an effort to lower our overall cholesterol intake for this meal. Between the Chinese Eggs and the Latkas I used an entire dozen! We didn’t finish it all, but that was still quite a few eggs on our table at once. I also used white pepper as opposed to black because I had not yet found where I had packed the black pepper. It was a fortuitous difficulty since the flavor of the white pepper was perfect for this dish.
8 eggs divided (4 whole and 4 whites)
1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives and tarragon)
½ teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste
Olive oil for the pan
In a medium bowl whisk the four whole eggs and four egg whites together. Mix in the chopped herbs, pepper and salt.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Pour in the egg mixture and stir, stir, stir. Cook the eggs until the whites are set and then remove them from the pan to a serving bowl.
*If cooking for children, pregnant women or anyone who is immune compromised be sure to cook the eggs thoroughly.
Click the following link for a pdf version of the recipe that can be printed.