invite chickens and the eggs taste better

by rebecca on September 15, 2010

Post image for invite chickens and the eggs taste better

          I buy eggs from a couple of young friends who are in 4-H. This weekly purchase is my altared space today. These eggs are helping me fall back in love with food by connecting me to the earth from which those eggs are born. Well, eggs are born of chickens, but you probably know what I mean.

          I’m bored of cooking. This is not something I’m suppose to say as a good mommy. Good mommies don’t get bored of cooking. They happily pull trays of cookies out of the oven after school to feed their children coupled with plates of dipping vegetables.

          These days I ain’t gettin’ no mommy awards. My kids are hungry.

          I’m hungry too.

          But I’m finding a way to be satiated again. Just look at these friendly chickens. They look like they’re headed to a party. I’d like an invitation. Put some corn in my hand and they are ready to teach me about nibbling.

          In the beginning of my life as mother I was excited about cooking. Everything was new and even when I messed up things seemed to taste fine because the table itself was seasoned with a desire for connection.

          I was so in love with the making of a family that food in the blender held a delight for me. I’d sit there mesmerized by the way white bananas and bumpy red raspberries spun themselves together to make a mash that colored my toddler’s cheeks. I lived close to the earth, cherishing each berry and sprawl of cheerios.

          But years of chicken, pasta, meatballs and salad have traveled the calendar, our bellies and the dishwasher. When my kids threw the food as toddlers I thought it was cute, “Look how she’s experimenting with gravity,” I’d say. Now when my food goes down the disposal I have no such cheerful words.

          Daily refusals, over months and years have had their effect.

          I have not truly attended to the food that graces my table for a few years. I’ve let the disposal gobble up my half eaten efforts and nibble away at my creative juices stealing my desire to feed a family still hungry for connection.

          Cooking is not just another hobby. I’ve had hobbies come and go. I adored scrapbooking for several years. I knitted furiously for a whole month. Gardening comes and goes in my life, not as frequently as the seasons. 

          But it doesn’t really matter that I no longer pine for mosaic pictures of the ocean, or handmade socks or fresh cut flowers. Our life goes on.

          I don’t have a similar luxury with cooking. This is because I need to eat. Every day. So do the other people who sit at my table.

          I find things stay fresh with laughter and parties. So I’m looking for new guests whom I can invite to the table. I want the fascination of the blender and, because it will never be new again, I must cultivate a beginner’s mind. I must go in search of a new relationship with my food.

          My young friends’ eggs bring this wonder into my kitchen and chase away the drudgery and toil with the cheep, cheep, cheep of their chickens. They bring stories about food to my table and a feeling that the earth is rising up to meet us each morning with a sunny, yellow face. That is a heck of a lot more satisfying than a carton from the aisles of a super-sized super store.

          When I go to get eggs and hear the stories of the chickens I fall in love with my food in a new and precious way. I learn the struggles of these young people who love their chickens the way I love my dog.

          A chicken is not born laying eggs. It has to mature. And then, there are times when that chicken is tired or the weather too hot/cold or the fox has wrought fear into the heart of a chicken and an egg just won’t arrive. I hear these stories and how the kids pine over the cost of feeding chickens and the income produced from selling eggs. How does a young person balance a ledger filled with love? It’s heavy on the side of keeping chickens until their dying day, long past when they’ve stopped producing that food which pays their rent. This brings a bounty and a deep adoration to each and every egg I crack.

          I hear about Goldie, who sits at the top of the pecking order and plucks out feathers from the hind ends of chickens like Lacey who has to eat last. There’s Nutmeg who likes to fly and land atop people’s heads. And CB who seems to enjoy the game of hide and seek.

          Connecting all this personality to my food as I crack open an egg and see it staring up at me, sunny and smiling, brings new juice to my tired whisk. It is no wonder the 4-H eggs are more intensely yellow when loved so well. They taste like freedom has flavored their lives.

          Beginning again. That is the importance of falling in love with my life when it becomes tired. The hobbies that can be let go, for a time or for forever, adieu. But to those tasks that must remain, I want to find the beginning again and again with that happy yellow center that makes me feel part of the whole and well connected.

          An egg is such a simple thing but it packs a powerful punch; 8 grams of protein for only 90 calories. That’s a bargain of dietary splendor. An egg wants to stay together, much the way I want to send my family out the door each day. Try separating the white of an egg and put only ½ an egg in the pan. I’m not certain it can be done. Eggs want to remain whole. I love this about them. I want my family to be this difficult to separate; from each other and from the table we share.

 

            What keeps you coming back to the table? What makes your food new and not boring? Who comes to your parties? What tastes precious in your life today?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

BigLittleWolf September 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

You pose some wonderful questions here. How do we keep from getting bored with our food (and cooking)? How do we keep that round-the-table engagement that is so connective to a family? How do we do it when we have to compete for the time and attention of everything going on? And why is it always (or so it seems) the women who have to deal with this?

I know that as the years have worn on, while I enjoy feeding my family – the UnBudget, fatigue, a crazy schedule – and a less than easy kitchen have all made this harder.

But I’ve realized recently, with my teens, that even if it’s two nights a week, something about bonding over food – sitting together and taking the time to gently ease conversation out into the open – it’s more important than whatever we’re eating.

Don’t get me wrong – the better the food, the easier it is! So I make things that are healthy and quick (and try to rotate) – but that conversational time really is glue. I’ve recently moved it up the priority list. I try for two nights/week, and if I get 3 or 4 – I’m thrilled! The rest of the time, it’s “grab leftovers as you can.”

Life – as it really is.

(By the way, eggs are a staple at our house. My kid loves them, cooks them multiple ways, I have low cholesterol, so why not?)

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Kay Bumguardner September 16, 2010 at 8:10 am

What a happy story and the pictures are great!

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Sprite's Keeper September 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I have myself recently discovered a love of cooking born of the desire to be better at it than I was. I was seriously a bad cook, from the box all the way. Then I made mashed potatoes from actual potatoes and not freeze-dried flakes and they turned out well. Then I tried homemade cookies. And bread. And roasts. And now I love cooking.

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Stacia September 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I love happy chickens so very much. And each and every time I have tried to separate an egg, I have failed. I avoid recipes that call for that particular skill, and maybe that’s a metaphor for how I live my life: I am with my family, and they are with me. Nothing else matters.

(Also, I really, really hate to cook.)

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Stacy (Mama-Om) September 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

oh, this post made me cry. There is so much I haven’t articulated about my own journey away from that nourishing connection with food, with one another. A year and a half ago, I stopped eating almost all the foods I had eaten everyday up until then (eggs included, among chicken, wheat, dairy, shrimp, trout, walnuts, olive oil, strawberries and peas, the list goes on) and in two weeks I was standing in my own home, just standing there, feeling happy. It was a marvelously new feeling, an inner connection, a system in alignment or at least coming back. But losing those foods, though it meant regaining my health, has meant the loss of our family’s meals, of our togetherness and connections, and I have not really allowed myself to mourn that, until reading your post.

Another layer of healing…

Blessings,
Stacy

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SuziCate September 20, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Store bought eggs do not match the color and rich taste of a farm egg. Even cakes are fluffier and more yellow. cooking can become tedious at times. Glad you found a renewed interest. Love the pics!

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6512 and growing September 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Glad to see a simply, yet lovely and delicious chicken egg stirred your cooking mojo and appreciation! (I can relate!)

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