Œufs

My father raises chickens. They lay eggs with bright yellow yolks and very hard shells; two signs of very good nutrition. Their coop is a large chicken palace with two infra-red heaters. One sits inside the main domicile. The other is outside so that they can relax in the winter snow of eastern Washington and feel the heat of the sun on their soft feathers, even though it is overcast and all is grey and brownish grey. Food scraps from his kitchen are fed to them. Hearts of brassica, carrot ends, and even whole bunches of grapes add to their cracked corn. Once, in the winter, they gave him eight eggs instead of the usual four. Hens usually don’t lay eggs at all this time of year. But these birds love him and want to keep him strong. He dines on over medium eggs and hash browns in the morning; a favorite meal since he was a boy in Oklahoma. He thinks of solar panels for the roof of his coop. He thinks of his grandson in Montana and his brood spread from Boston to Seattle. As he breaks the yolk and lets it’s yellow glory bless his potatoes, he is happy for one more day in this beautiful world with his loving wife.

The folds in a chef’s toque, his silly hat, represent the hundred ways he knows how to cook an egg: poached, folded with fillings, fried, en cocotte (the dish, not the lady of the night), boiled with cracked shells and flavored with tea, cold or hot; subdivided and listed forever. This versatility is caused by how different the yolk is from the white. An egg white, or albumen, is mostly water and protein, with some minerals and membranes, and almost no fat. It protects the fertilized yolk and can protect man when being used to make vaccines. The yolk is full of magic. It is loaded with cholesterol and the holy chemical lecithin. Lecithin is the shortening of the way. It can bring together polar and non-polar molecules to make a delicious sauce Bearnaise. This sauce can be put on fish and served as an apology for not really being there for someone at some time in the past when they needed you most.

Mom used to make us bacon and eggs for breakfast. She would cut the bacon with scissors directly into a large cast iron skillet and add many eggs to the fat and crisp meat. Then served it to her three boys. This happened on Saturdays.

An egg has an air sac on the larger end. As the egg ages, this air sac gets larger. The yolk, too, grows as it takes water from the albumen. Water is lost to the atmosphere as well. An egg that is old enough will float in water.

If you need to make soap from scratch you can make lye from wood ash. Fill a container with hardwood ash. Pour rainwater through it and reserve. Test the pH by floating a raw egg in the solution. If it sinks, the solution is too weak. If it floats, it is too strong. If it settles in the middle, it is perfect. You are ready to be cleansed.

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