The age-old question, "Which came first: the chicken or the egg?" supposedly has no answer, and sends your mind reeling in an eternal Moebius strip of confusion. This is stupid. Maybe law school ruined my thought processes forever and I'm trying to effectively get off on a technicality, but the question doesn't specify that the egg in question is a CHICKEN egg. Lots of other animals lay eggs. Insects, for one extremely gigantic swath of the animal kingdom. Reptiles and amphibians. Fish lay eggs that taste yummy on top of sushi. Dinosaurs laid eggs that were then fossilized to provide evidence, eons later, that eggs came first. All of these animals predated poultry by a comfy margin. So let's stipulate that the egg came before the chicken, and also stipulate that law school warps your brain and fills your vocabulary with jargon.
Eggs are on my mind this week because I'm once again caring for the Chickens Across the Street. I feed them each morning, freshen up their water, chuck them a handful of cracked corn or expired green vegetables, and collect their eggs. It being January in Wisconsin, this last task is time-sensitive. There's about a four-hour window in the morning when the hens are laying, and I usually end up making multiple trips to the coop to ensure that no eggs freeze and crack. So far, I've only had one egg suffer this fate. Ike (pictured above, proudly brandishing his haul from one such trip) and I collected a single semi-gelid egg, which I reassured him we could scramble and eat. When we cracked it into the bowl, the white stayed in a more or less oval shape with the yolk suspended and semi-visible nestled in its center. It reminded me a bit of those lamps you can buy at IKEA that feature a lightbulb in the middle of a block of clear glass.
So the 5 additional eggs a day we're getting from the neighboring birds are in addition to the weekly dozen of happy-chicken eggs a local farmer delivers to me and my co-workers at the library. This amounts to a serious surfeit of eggs, and the need to seek out recipes to consume them. Spanish tortilla uses a whopping ten. Lemon squares use two whole and seven yolks, leaving the problem of seven whites. Angel-food cake uses twelve to fourteen whites, which would then leave me with five to seven yolks (can you see how this could go on forever?). The good news is that I love, love, love eggs. They are scrumptious and versatile, buttery-delicious on their own but able to serve as a sort of blank slate for all manner of sweet and savory flavors. And these eggs in particular are guilt-free. The birds that produce them are practically members of my neighborhood association. Nearly blood-related. Sometimes I cook one up for breafast before it has even had the chance to cool to room temperature after being ejected from the relative tropics of the chicken's posterior end. More of our egg adventures are to come, including - wait for it - my first souffle.