Random Spring

Today it is raining and blustery. Will it snow once more in the hours ahead? It’s possible. I never know how to dress for my daily walks – down coat, rain jacket, only a sweatshirt, hat? So I put it all on and take it off and carry it if I have to. For our spot on this planet, the month of March is never sure whether she is winter or spring, which leaves us waiting in various ways. Life is just a little more eclectic and full of random activities, waiting activities.

We watch the snow melt. I know it’s hard to imagine that being exciting, but when you’ve seen nearly five months of whiteness, a little bare ground is a big deal. It has disappeared from the roads and most of the yards except for the deep snow banks that the snow plows left. There are still patches of snow in the woods where the sun doesn’t shine. The lakes are still covered with rotten ice, but the geese are arriving and looking for any open water in the streams and marshes.

We are cleaning closets, emptying boxes long forgotten, and making decisions. Spring cleaning, it could be called that but it’s much more. It’s like taking trips down memory lane and we spend a lot of time talking about what we are remembering.

We (I) are finally putting December behind us. I turned off the winter lights on Daylight Savings day. The sun is coming up earlier and in a different place on the horizon. The patio furniture is out on the east porch and we are ready for the first day that allows us to sit outside for morning coffee, no longer in the dark and cold.

For some odd reason, I’m finding puzzles to be more than usually comforting. They have appeared in greater than usual numbers too, thanks to friends who have dropped them off. This is the first year that I’ve done puzzles alone since there is no one in the house who cares for them like I do. When my brain needs a break from daily duties, the puzzle is there waiting, demanding nothing, requiring a different kind of focus, full of color, visually interesting, solvable and just challenging enough.

Even the cat is waiting to be let outside. She watches the squirrels at the bird feeder and gets all excited, but only spends a few seconds in the cold when I let her out. She is waiting for the warm times she remembers, and as I watch her sitting in the sun I am reminded of spring window washing duties. I cleaned this window this week and it looks much better now.

Everyone’s chickens are laying eggs now and it is easy to get them fresh from the farms. I get a strange delight at boxes like this one from a chicken breed called Rainbow – for obvious reasons. I am having time to pay more attention to our nutrition and exercise needs. I feel healthier and ready for summer, ready for the sun, and work in the garden.

I am writing, although finding it hard. April Challenge is coming up and I would like to have my posts finished beforehand. It is slow going because my theme is so interesting and personal. Stories of my great grandmother and her family are so thought provoking and absorbing and I find myself spending days thinking about one episode before actually nailing it down. It is hard but I know it will be worthwhile.

And amid all the projects that didn’t get done this winter, there are a few that are getting done. I’m sealing the beautiful outdoor chairs that my uncle made for our patio, and I sawed the backs off my kitchen stools and painted the seats barn red. Now they fit under the counter better. I swept under the stove, vacuumed out the truck, and put away the snow shovels in favor of the rakes. I am even finding time to knit, and that amazes even me. I am grateful for all there is to do that makes waiting an interesting part of life, almost like a season in itself.

I can almost forget I’m waiting,… just sayin’.

#atozchallenge: Egg me on…

Chicken eggs, primarily. Eggs are probably the easiest protein to add to a quick meal, anytime of the day, but certainly for breakfast.  They have survived seasons of being bad mouthed for their cholesterol and for harboring salmonella and are presently in pretty good standing.

The marvelous thing about an egg is the balanced pairing of a protein and a fat along with other nutrients in a shell designed to take pressure fairly well.  This thin layer of calcium allows the collection, cleaning and transport of eggs, not to mention being pushed out of, sat upon and walked over by the chicken.  Packaging genius!

I love that eggs go from raw to safely cooked in practically no time at all.  Almost any way you want to apply the heat works well.  But there is something to avoid in cooking eggs, that is high heat.  Egg protein, which is the clear part that turns white, is denatured by high heat and becomes plasticized.. Don’t walk away from the stove when your eggs are cooking because there are only a few seconds between runny/disgusting and hard like rubber.

I don’t know why people think brown eggs are healthier since brown is only the color of the shell, and we don’t eat that, right?  However, anyone who has ever raised chickens knows that chickens who have a happy life running around eating greens and catching bugs have eggs that look markedly different on the inside.  Nutritionally there will be a difference. To see exactly how much difference diet can make in the amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, and vitamins in an egg, you can visit the website Egglands Best and look under health benefits.

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Outside shell color says nothing about what’s inside, trust me. Just from a different kind of chicken.

Just so we’re clear on terms, cage free is a step better than eggs with no other delineation, but it still allows for large scale chicken houses where crowded conditions necessitate giving antibiotics. Organic will mean that there are no additives of this kind and usually friendlier living conditions for the birds.  And there is a lot to be said for having your own small flock, letting them roam free in your garden (great insect control, btw) and gathering your own eggs. Many urban communities do allow backyard chickens, roosters prohibited for obvious reasons, however, we are not all so blessed.

I was able to raise chickens when we lived on a farm. Sometimes a hen would lay a whole clutch of eggs in some out of the way place. There might be a dozen by the time I found them and they would still be okay to eat, but if you don’t know where your eggs are coming from refrigeration is best. Eggs will be considered “old” after three weeks but still may be safe to eat past that point. Older eggs are easier to peel when hard boiled while fresh eggs will be more difficult. Many people say that adding a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, or a tablespoon of salt and ½ tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water helps the peel come off easier.

My latest egg cooking experiment was to use my muffin tin, an egg still in the shell in each cup, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  The result was like a boiled egg but the husband pointed out the not-so-efficient use of energy.  The best method of hard cooking in the shell is to place in pan with water to cover by an inch, bring to a boil over high heat, turn off the heat and let sit for 15-20 minutes and then cool quickly in ice water.

You can also poach eggs (for a somewhat different but good taste experience), scramble them, fry them, or use them in a variety of recipes – the information on them would fill a book. I don’t want to overwhelm you, just sayin’…   Just eat them.

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I put butter on everything – you don’t have to.