Monday, October 10, 2011

Freedom Eggs: Protein, History and Good Karma, together at Last (Kunming Tomato and Egg)

We recently started getting eggs from a family at the school where I teach. Local eggs are something I'd been meaning to catch up with for a while, but despite my good intentions driving by "Fresh Eggs" signs alongside the road, it hadn't happened yet. So when I saw a flyer in the school lobby advertising weekly delivery to the school, I was sold. Someone's going to bring me a dozen eggs every other week at school? Awesome.

The family farm in question is an interesting place. It's on the site of the Ross Farm in Florence, MA, the last remaining building of a center of 19th century abolitionist and civil rights activism and stop on the Underground Railroad. At various points in that epoch of its history, it played host to such historical figures as Sojourner Truth (one of Florence's most celebrated historical residents) and Frederick Douglass, who was a frequent lecturer there.

These days, the farm is the family homestead of the Walker/Hammarlund clan, and also plays host to an herb farm run by another couple. I first caught wind of their project shortly after a play about local abolitionists by the class of one of their kids used a field trip to their house as a narrative framework. Someone mentioned that they were gearing up to start doing egg delivery by donkey cart. As if this operation needed to be any more stylish (donkey cart delivery is only available within Florence).

Shortly before the beginning of the school year, the farm was impacted by flooding of the Mill River caused by Hurricane Irene, which came up fairly suddenly and found them literally tossing chickens out of the barn to keep them away from the rising floodwaters.

In any event, we've been enjoying the eggs. I cracked open a double-yolker earlier today. However, going through a dozen eggs in two weeks is a quicker pace than we're accustomed to. It will pick up when I get into serious soup for lunch season and start including eggs in my lunch more often than not. In the meantime, this very simple dish has saved the day from the cranky hungries (or "the hangries" as we call it) a few times over the last few weeks. While any number of cultures have their own simple dishes focused on egg and tomato, this is one Maria learned from her Chinese professor in college, who was from Kunming in the southwestern Yunnan province (fun fact! in Mandarin, the word for tomato directly translates as "barbarian eggplant"). It's little more effort than plain scrambled eggs, but so much more satisfying.

Kunming-style Tomato and Egg

vegetarian, gluten-free
serves 1, 10 minutes start to finish
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small or ½ large tomato, large dice (or a small handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered)
  • 1-2 scallions, sliced into rounds
  • OR
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ¼-½ tsp. salt
  • a drizzle or spritz of oil to grease the pan
Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk with a few pinches of salt and about half the sugar. Prep the tomatoes and scallions/garlic. Heat pan on med-high heat. Add oil and the garlic or half the scallion. Give it about 30 seconds to start smelling toasty, then add the egg. Start cooking it in an undisturbed sheet, as for an omelet. Pull up the sides every so often and tip/swirl the liquid egg out to the edges to cook. Once it's mostly set, break it up and add the tomato, soy sauce and remaining scallion and sugar. Serve hot on its own, over a little rice or with a piece of toast.

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