March 9, 2011

A Return, With Eggs... and More!

Yes, another mini-siesta from food blogging comes to an end. Life, it's busy, you know. And I'm actually trying to finish an actual fiction book, which is no small feat these days!

In any case, to the (partial) subject of the post: Eggs. In  particular, eggs for dinner, which is a weekly occurrence in our house. While occasionally it's an omelet, or in the spring and summer often a frittata, for the last 6 months or so, it usually involves a poached or fried egg, the delectable runny yolk providing some serious richness to pasta with brown butter or an arugula salad with a sherry vinaigrette.

Last night it was eggs cooked in tomato sauce, adapted from this recipe from Marco Canora. I followed it fairly closely, but did deviate somewhat, adding a half-cup of onion with the garlic, putting a touch of grated nutmeg in the tomatoes (I used most of a 28 oz. can) just before adding the eggs, and topping it with flat-leaf parsley instead of oregano, since I had some in the fridge.

Here it is in the pan...

And here is the finished product...

What makes these egg-centric dinners so much more enjoyable is the true free-range eggs, purchased at McGinnis Sisters, from Miller's Farm in New Wilmington. They're more expensive than conventional eggs, but if you're talking about something that is the centerpiece of your meal, and the difference of a buck or two, I don't see the economic case against it.

The color alone of a true free-range egg yolk (from chickens that get to cavort in the grass, eat bugs out of poop, etc., not the ones which simply have "access" to a tiny caged, mostly dirt yard adjacent to the jam-packed confines of a factory farm chicken barn) tells a story: bright orange, almost glowing. Then when you taste the egg, the tale is complete.

Now, to be fair, I can understand, particularly for those on a limited budget (and in the current economic environment, that's many more people these days -- and if the impasse over the federal budget isn't resolved, could very soon include me), not being able to pay more for sustainably produced meat. The price differential in that case can be quite significant. But the difference in the price of conventional vs. truly free-range eggs, around $2, for many people could easily be accounted for by skipping that case of soda or going without that bag of chips. That is, to my mind, no sacrifice at all.

McGinnis Sisters deserves accolades for its commitment to sourcing sustainably produced eggs and, increasingly, meat from local farms.When the location in Seven Fields first opened a few years ago, it carried meat from Ron Gargasz's farm in Volant (probably not far from Miller's farm!), which just happens to be the source of the beef for Franktuary's locavore dog.

But it put the meat in a crowded freezer, cordoned off from the conventional meat sold at the large meat counter. It wasn't promoted or even labeled in any special way, quickly developed a freezer film on it, and soon enough the freezer and beef were gone.

Now it has returned, with buffalo from Wooden Nickel Buffalo Farm in Erie, and other sustainably produced  meat. It's still cordoned off in its own freezer, but that must be, at least to some extent, because it's frozen. But the beef's availability still isn't promoted in any special way. It's just there, below the Bell & Evans chicken products. That's something that should, and easily could, change.

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