Eggs in Springtime

Eggs in Springtime

I used to wonder why eggs show up so much in various spring holidays--Easter eggs of course but also the egg on the Seder plate for Passover. I would hear people vaguely say something like, "oh yeah, you know eggs...spring..." but I never really understood what the connection was. Then I worked on farms in Vermont and upstate New York. On both farms where I worked, we grew vegetables and raised animals for meat and milk. We also always kept a flock of laying hens for eggs. What I never knew before working on a farm is that eggs actually have a season. The hen's egg-laying is impacted by the amount of daylight. In fact, a hen needs a minimum of 14 hours of daylight to trigger the ovulation and egg-production cycle. Of course, we think of eggs as a year-round kind of food because most commercial egg-laying facilities keep their hens inside under artificial UV lights so their reproductive cycle never takes a break. But if we consider what the natural rhythm is for a hen, it makes total sense. Winter isn't a great time to have a baby if you mostly live outside and, in general, it's smart to focus one's energy on keeping warm in those cold months when the days are short and the temperature drops. I can relate to this completely. I've noticed more and more that in winter, I have less energy and more of a desire to stay cuddled up and cozy rather than out in the world making things happen. Sadly, the ever-present drumbeat of the need to make a living in the Bay Area keeps me from being able to follow these natural instincts, somewhat like those hens sitting under lights, thinking it's always summertime. I'd like to take a step back from that constant grind and think about what it might be like if I could live a bit more in tune with the seasons. After turning inwards for the cold, wet winter months, I would start to feel ready for the warmer air and longer days of spring. I might emerge from my cocoon excited for new growth, for new life. Just like those hens whose little chicken bodies kickstart the cycle of egg laying when the daylight hours increase, my body might start to feel ready to bring forth something fresh, something brimming with possibility. And so the connection of eggs and spring is clear: not only are eggs are food whose season technically starts in spring but they are a symbol of potential. Little packages with all the necessary components for life (if fertilized), eggs are something of a miracle and when we eat them, we can appreciate what they give us, not just fantastic nourishment for our bodies, but also the feeling of something that's just beginning and the excitement for what it is yet to become. 


How to Make a Jammy Egg:

I love a jammy egg. It's somewhere between a hard and soft-boiled egg. The egg doesn't get chalky but stay silky, almost custardy, without spilling out from the confines of the white. This is the kind of egg you see in ramen and it's especially good to put on top of our Pork & Mustard Greens Soup, Miso-Tofu Stew, or Savory Breakfast Porridge.

1. Set a small pot of water on the stove to boil.

2. When the water boils, gently lower the egg into using a slotted spoon.

3. Immediately start a timer for 6 and a half minutes.

4. While the egg cooks, prepare a bowl of ice water.

5. When the timer goes off, use your slotted spoon to gently move the egg into the ice water. Leave for about 2 minutes or until cool enough to handle. 

6. Peel the egg and carefully slice it in half. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you like such as shichimi togarashi or smoked paprika. 

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