Monday, May 21, 2018
Cooking

Eggs at Easter are as good as any chocolate bunnies

TAMPA — Eight-year-old Woody Machado has the answer to an ages-old question. He says chickens came first and then came the eggs!

It only takes a few minutes of watching Woody and his brother Dustin, 5, their arms full of red, black and tan hens, to see that they hold deep regard for the small flock they tend, gathering eggs and selling them to neighbors. In fact, the eggs are so popular, the boys keep a waiting list of neighbors wanting to purchase the fresh eggs from their chickens that roam free around the Machado home off W Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.

Woody tucks Chickadee, the oldest hen, under his arm and strokes her lovingly. A sweep of nostalgia takes me back to my childhood in the 1950s on my grandma's farm in Macon County, N.C., where I carried around a fluffy red hen named Crossbill. She'd hatched with a deformed beak — thus the name — making it tough for her to pick up bugs and insects. Crossbill got bowls of powdered "mash" to help her produce large brown eggs. I enjoyed her companionship, convinced that her red feathers were close enough in color to my red hair to make us "kin." At 4 years old, my main focus was enjoying the farm animals, with good food coming close behind.

Then as now, favorite tastes often included eggs. Easter, which is Sunday, is certainly the biggest egg holiday of the year, with pastel-colored eggs tucked in hiding places for the morning hunt and certainly more eggs featured in Easter brunch offerings. Egg salad is often the result of the multitude of dyed eggs, though most health experts suggest they shouldn't do double duty anymore.

At Grandma's, the chickens roamed freely and frequently hid their nests. A good chore for an active preschooler was hunting the nests, carefully loading the eggs into a basket and carrying them to the kitchen. I learned early that the chore had two drawbacks. Not all hens were happy with a child's hands digging underneath them for eggs; thus a sound pecking was often endured. I also learned to check thoroughly nests not occupied by hens. Black snakes also liked eggs, would sometimes raid a nest and, stuffed, stay right there. Those two things aside, the chore was pleasant and came with thoughts of wonderful egg-rich foods sure to follow.

I grew up knowing that eggs weren't solely for breakfast. They'd often suffice when a "hurry up" meal was needed. I held on to that thought and, during my teaching years, wonderful cheesy, rich egg cakes from a recipe in a 1970s edition of my hometown paper, the Franklin (N.C.) Press, made a quick and tasty dinner.

During my years at Berea College in Kentucky, if the single main entree served in the college cafeteria wasn't preferred, there was the alternate choice of cereal, cheese or boiled eggs. Many of us became experts at making egg salad that we'd pile on slices of thick bread from the college bakery and then go back to dorms or off to the library feeling sufficiently fed.

As a child, my favorite dessert was egg custard bread pudding, and excitement prevailed when I saw my mother crumbling slightly stale biscuits into a big oval pan on the stove, bubbling with a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. After the crumbled bread was stirred in and butter dotted on top, the pan was popped in the oven.

Long after I'd graduated from college and had a family of my own, I still recalled the favorite treat. I'd claimed the oval pan from my childhood home and, after years of searching, found a recipe that turned out, after several tweakings, to be even better than what I recalled.

For several years, eggs got a bad rap with reports of them causing increased cholesterol levels. Like most, I heeded the concerns. News finally came that further research revealed that eggs actually offer great health benefits. Eggs are protein rich and exceptional in supplying choline, a nutrient in the B vitamin family that's important for brain function. Eggs are also supportive of a healthy cardiovascular system and have great strengths in promoting healthy eyes, all while being delicious in a variety of ways.

Eggs go well at any meal and can range from simple wraps and omelets to fancier touches with quiches and frittatas.

When the Machado boys offered me a dozen of their finest eggs, I eagerly grabbed my wallet to pay them. They're young with their egg business, and while I was eager to encourage their moneymaking venture, I knew I'd reap the better end of things with those eggs back in my kitchen. My biggest problem was deciding what to make first, but the egg custard pudding is right at the top of the list.

Gail Diederich can be reached at [email protected]

     
 
Comments
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

When the clock strikes midnight, I reach for the cookie jar. Okay, maybe itís not an actual jar ó maybe Iím even lazier, and I reach for the cardboard box of chocolate chip cookies I bought from the store. The point is, my late-night snack habits are...
Published: 05/16/18
Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

The year was 2011. It was the night before Prince Williamís wedding to Kate Middleton, and I stood in my kitchen making chocolate chip scones. I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m., with plans to sit in the spare bedroom of the townhome and watch Britainís ro...
Published: 05/15/18
Taste test: pineapple juice

Taste test: pineapple juice

Having always loved a fresh pineapple stick in my brewed iced tea, I wondered recently if a splash of pineapple juice would give it the same sweet kick. While few of us drink pure pineapple juice, our panelists definitely enjoy an occasional watered-...
Published: 05/14/18
Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Asparagus is by far the favorite vegetable of my family. I can serve nearly 3 pounds of asparagus a couple of times a week to my family of six, and my girls will still argue over who gets the last stalk. I say this not to impress you with the adventu...
Published: 05/11/18
Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Are you stumped for Motherís Day ideas? Donít stress. This year, surprise the mothers in your life with a special breakfast that fits perfectly with their personalities. Whether she loves the tradition of breakfast-in-bed or prefers her meals on the ...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/10/18
Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

When Rick Bragg told his mother that his new book about her would be titled The Best Cook in the World, Margaret Bragg protested: "I wasn’t even the best cook that lived on our road." Bragg writes, "I told her we couldn’t call it The Thi...
Published: 05/09/18
Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

If Iím being honest, most of what I do in the kitchen is recreate really delicious things Iíve eaten somewhere else. No, it never tastes the same, but itís a useful way to get cooking inspiration, and also to not spend $10 on something it takes $2 to...
Published: 05/08/18
Updated: 05/09/18
Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Slowly cooking a big hunk of tough, inexpensive meat isnít just the best way to cook this cut of meat. Itís really the only way. Most tough cuts of meat come from the hardest working parts of the animal, and therefore have a lot of collagen. This col...
Published: 05/08/18
Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

With longer summer nights on the horizon, our judges are always looking for a new cool treat to beat the heat. This week they sampled four new chocolate offerings found in local grocery store freezers. A couple were pool party worthy and others were ...
Published: 05/07/18