Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eggs Anybody?

You can tell a lot about a person by the type of eggs that are sitting in their fridge.

Are they free range? SPCA approved? Organic or barn raised, battery/cage? Or, these days, even vegetarian (funny, I had always though that chickens ate a diet of grains and cereals but when you think about it, free-range chooks eat worms, insects and other small creatures in their habitat).

Mass-farmed chickens will also be fed certain amounts of fishmeal, bone meal or animal byproducts (don't ask too many questions), so it all depends on what side of the chook yard you sit.

New Zealand exports more than 2 million free range eggs a year and has just developed a technique to differentiate free range eggs from cage eggs by using isotope analysis, ie the difference in the carbon and nitrogen found in the hens' diet which makes up the isotope fingerprint of the egg let's keep it simple.

Now this is really interesting stuff because we will soon be able to buy a gadget that sits on our kitchen bench, which we can use to test our eggs, green for free range eggs and blue for battery or cage eggs.

This will be extremely useful and will sit beside the other great kitchen inventions of the 21st century, including the pizza scissors (for cutting the perfect pizza slice), the frozen ice tray smiles (yes, they do look like granddad's dentures in your glass) and the portable toaster (that fits in your handbag).

Yes, I do look forward to the day that my kitchen bench has in place an egg isotope analysis machine. Until then I will just have to keep buying my eggs from my trusted local egg man whom I look in the eye each week when handing over my cash, whom I know produces the best eggs a chicken can lay, whose reputation relies on good old person-to-person contact that can only be done by buying direct from a trusted food producer.

Try this, the perfect skiing breakfast, for when a hard day on the slopes requires a protein-packed start to the day:

6 eggs, well beaten

2 cups milk

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper



6 slices cubed wheat bread

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

Chopped meat or veges (optional)

Spray an ovenproof pan well with oil. Lay cubed bread in the pan and any meat or veges you like. Add egg mixture, then sprinkle cheese over egg. Cover casserole and place overnight in the fridge. Bake covered at 350 degrees Celsius for 45min, then 10min uncovered.

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