Eggs aplenty

First few eggs
After the excitement of our first – albeit cracked – egg, three out of four of the chickens have been earning their keep. We’re still not sure who’s holding out, but most mornings, when we go out to the run to feed and water them, there are three eggs waiting in the nesting box. They’re small – I’m using two instead of one at the moment – but perfectly formed and, I didn’t expect this, have an incredible flavour. It must be all the Ballyvoddy slugs that the girls pick up on their wanders around the garden.

Mornings working from home are enlivened by frequent checks on the foursome as they free-range around our half-acre. We live alongside a busy road so would like to keep them towards the back of the property. That’s not what they think as they make their way towards the front of the house where the best of slugs seem to live, judging by their determination to make it there. I’ve taken to moving the computer to an outside table so that I can keep an eye on them (and on the cat, watching carefully as they scratch about), until they get too naughty and I have to herd them down the length of the garden towards their home. They like to take the scenic route, through some of the less-mowed parts of the garden, and our travels are enlivened by my swearing as they lead me through yet another patch of hidden nettle stalks and my bare ankles suffer.

With a half-dozen eggs arriving in the kitchen every two days, I’m turning to my recipe books for more ideas and Michel Roux’s Eggs has already proven itself invaluable. My small cast-iron pan is getting used for regular omelettes and a couple of eggs poached on a bed of spicy lentils was very successful. I’m looking forward to making mayonnaise this week and we’ve also baked a couple with blue cheese in the heart-shaped ramekins we got from the Sculptor last June. I remember my Nana making Lemon Curd when there were lots of eggs to spare so I’ll have to dig out her recipe. Then, with whites left over, there’ll have to be a Pavlova some day for tea. Who would have thought that having hens would be so much fun?!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. Deborah says:

    Sounds incredible. I’ve always wanted to keep chickens. Some day! 🙂

  2. Karl says:

    Did I ever make you my stove-top Lemon Curd? The freshest eggs available (tick), juice and zest of Organic/Unwaxed Sicilian Lemons (the very best are slightly out of season now but there’s still some decent ones available), Organic Sugar and (local) Fresh Cream all curdled up together in my old enamel Bain-Marie on top of the already-lit-to-warm-the-cottage cast iron stove – eco-friendly and simply divine, my mouth is watering now! 🙂

  3. Neva says:

    Hi ya honey,Nice to see the ramkins in use!And hens – do you have rodesian reds or a pedigree variety?x

  4. Caroline says:

    I’m sure you’re kept pretty busy at the moment, Deborah, with Spicendity! In fairness, the girls don’t take too much work – feeding and watering morning and night, a shuffle of their run every day or so and a little garden run when you’re about the place.Karl – I remember homemade pasta hanging all around the kitchen, fantastic fresh tomato sauce, the most divine cakes, herbs in everything – think I came back to Dublin that time with lovage in my luggage – and lots of lovely treats from your own cottage kitchen, but never lemon curd (yet!). Send me the recipe. At this rate, I’m definitely going to have to make lemon curd sooner rather than later.Neva – the ramekins are very much in use, whether it’s for baked eggs, Chocolate Hazelnut Mini-Puds, or any number of other bake-in-the-oven or leave-to-set-in-the-fridge deserts. The heart-shaped casserole dish has also proved it’s worth many times over – what more could you ask in a wedding present?! Our chickens are Rhode Island Reds. We thought we should start with a variety that’s known to be good for the table and good for laying – different varieties yet to be explored!

  5. Karl says:

    Caroline, as soon as I posted I remembered/realised that you’d last visited in the pre-stove days so obviously hadn’t sampled the delights that it and a few items of vintage enamelware brings us! You certainly need to return and definitely bring an EMPTY suitcase with you as, now that the herb garden’s are quite mature, that lovage regularly reaches a height of ten foot or more each Summer…

  6. Caroline says:

    And how are your medlar and quince trees growing? I’m hoping to get a few more fruit trees for the back of our garden. Planted gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries this year but they don’t seem to have done too well for themselves, maybe a bit too sheltered where they are. Ah, gardening…always something to learn!

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