My mom,daughter and I wandered around like the mother and child reunion, on a relentless quest for farm fresh eggs. Perhaps this sort of fecund adventure should have aligned our bio-rhythms or at least our stars, but it was not meant to be.
I consider myself to be geographically dyslexic; if I need to go right, I go left, if North I go South. Even with the GPS gently reminding me, I invariably get lost (and tell it shut the f*!! up). So when I have no real directions as was the case today, it can be a little harrowing for me and my passengers. The farm is located on a major road but no number was given. We finally stopped for directions and after a few confused tries, the woman at the pharmacy broke out into a smile, "Oh, you mean the place behind the lumber yard...", of course I did! which is where we went. There were no chickens among the 2 x 4's, and just when feeling doomed to be lost and eggless, we spotted the discrete sign near an impossibly small path.
We wound out way down, passing a lake with ducks and then cows grazing on sweet pastures, finally stopping in front of a large chicken coup. 30 - 40 red hens were cheerfully clucking hello from inside, while a few rebels wandered around the farm giving me sudden and clear understanding of the term free range. Our moods were lifted, and we began to poke around. My daughter hopped out to chatter with the animals, as my mother and I looked for the farm stand. Again, there was a sign with prices, but no people or produce or eggs. Lost again, I wondered if the hens would accept a check.
Up the road was a house with several large sheds surrounding it, one with what looked like the wooden frame of a boat in progress. Debby Farber, co-owner of the farm approached me curiously and explained that the stand is self serve. Eggs are in the first fridge, meat is in the adjacent freezer, just tomatoes and beans today, put the money in the box and write down what you took in the log under the calendar. We wandered back, grabbed a dozen brown eggs, put $4 in the box, and set out for home while explaining to my daughter that the hens needed to nap.
The kitchen is one place where I do not feel lost, but fresh eggs are new to me. I had always heard about what a pleasure they are, how different from store bought, but never cooked with them. The three of us wandered in the kitchen and set out to make omelets. I used Julia Child's recipe (http://www.savory.tv/2009/07/29/julia-child-omelette/) in honor of the Julie & Julia film. It was one of the first recipes I tried after reading Julie Powell's book, upon which I swiped my mother's MtAoFC and began cooking in earnest. I have made this recipe a dozen times and while my flipping skills can use some attention, the final product is generally quite good.
As I readied the eggs, I immediately noticed a difference in the shells; they were denser and broke cleanly, with a more satisfyingly loud crack. The yolks were a deeper yellow than I am used to, and blended together with the whites beautifully (this despite the fact that I did not add water per the recipe). As for the omelets, well JC never had it so good. The eggs were more fluffy and rich. The entire thing was easier to handle and flip. And there was a faintly sweet odor that made each bite a little more savory.
My mom and I sat down together to enjoy our lunch. We agreed that omelets sure beat boxed cereal as a last resort dinner. We compared notes on the food and mused over why people don't cook these at home anymore. Was it the lingering effects of the 90's cholesterol scare, laziness, or ignorance? My mom taught me and my brother to cook; what happened to everyone else in my generation? I read a lot about the farm we visited today; where were all the other foodies? Michael Pollan seems to think cooking has become a spectator sport. Julie Powell recently asked her fans to blog their favorite MtAoFC recipe; the majority commented that they loved her work but never attempted to cook anything JC. It seems like something larger has been lost, the art of the home cooked meal in America.
Unable to solve the conundrum, we eased back into small talk. It had been a while since we had eaten eggs together, and the aromas coupled with the company brought me back to my childhood, to her kitchen where I happily played and learned. I spied my daughter giddily watching, eager to revisit tales of the coo-coo chickens while my past and future seemed to keep time with each other. We are staying at a vacation rental, but at that moment I truly felt at home.
Note: Blackwater Farms is located at Lambert's Cove Road, behind Cottle's Lumberyard, West Tisbury, MA. If you are visiting Martha's Vineyard, I recommend giving it a try. Worth the trip.