Many families have a ritual around at least one special meal a week. For us it’s our Saturday morning trip to the farmers market followed by breakfast at home, made with everything farm-fresh. It’s the same every week. We wake up, roll out of bed, get dressed and set off to the market. We usually arrive at the opening bell and there’s a good reason for that — at least there used to be. We’ve been buying eggs from Michaele at Growing Things Farm practically since the University Farmers Market began in 1993. For many years, Michaele was the only egg vendor there and a long line formed even before the bell rang. Come to think of it, her eggs were one of the things that lured us to the market in the first place. We became such devoted fans that we’d meet her during the winter in the parking lot behind Dick’s Drive-In before the market was open year-round — rain or shine. We’ve even met some of our best friends waiting in line for eggs at the farmers market.
Each week by the time we finish shopping and unpacking, our meal is more brunch than breakfast but the menu rarely varies — poached eggs on toast with whatever greens are fresh, lightly dressed with olive oil. Add a cup of hot tea and there’s no meal I’d rather have to start the weekend. After a farmers market breakfast, my life feels complete — fridge is stocked with food for the week, my belly is pleasantly full and plans for the weekend have been discussed. Now, I’m ready to go.
Michaele’s eggs usually find their way into our meals all week long — breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’re filled with amino acids, vitamins and minerals and are a relatively inexpensive source of protein that’s easy to incorporate into practically any meal for an extra nutritional and flavor punch.
On a recent trip to the Olympus Korean Spa, a friend ordered bibimbap for lunch. It was a beautiful arrangement of exotic vegetables and meat around a scoop of rice, topped off with a lightly fried egg. I had serious meal-envy and within a week tried my own Northwest version using mostly local ingredients. Once you have everything carefully placed in your bowl, add some hot garlic-chili sauce and stir, letting the egg yoke add a creaminess that brings it all together. Talk about a perfect one-bowl meal. Salmon works well instead of beef or leave the meat out and you’ll still have a very satisfying vegetarian meal. If you stripped this meal down to the basics, you’d need rice, an egg and chili sauce. Shiitakes, spinach, soy bean sprouts, daikon and carrots are all considered traditional but using the farmers market as my source, I was easily able to improvise. It’s a great meal to make with leftovers too.
Speaking of leftovers, if you have any extra corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day, hash topped with a sunny-side-up egg, is one of my favorites. I can remember my mother grinding leftover meat for hash with a hand-crank meat grinder. My corned beef was so tender, it practically fell apart on it’s own so I just chopped it up with a fork and knife. Simmer a whole peeled potato or two plus an onion in broth or water until tender. Chop them both up, add to the meat and you have hash. Fry it in butter until it browns and gets crispy around the edges. Make a little opening in the hash, crack your egg open and slide it into it’s nest. Cover and cook on medium heat until the egg white becomes opaque.
Go to the farmers market. Buy fresh eggs. Enjoy for breakfast and other meals throughout the week. Repeat — and don’t forget to bring your egg carton back with you.