Easter Eggs : Eggs From Scratch

* Gathering: Egg wholesaler Pete Ruiz of Sunset Egg Ranch in Van Nuys says eggs should be collected often (so they don't languish in hot weather or under a hot hen), washed carefully in warm water, dried and refrigerated immediately.

* Cooking: I boil eggs using Adelle Davis' method: Boil water, add eggs, cover pan, turn off heat, set timer for eight minutes. This makes a medium-boiled egg with firm whites and fairly firm yolks. Don't try to hard-boil a just-gathered egg; the white will come off with the shell. An egg should be at least 3 days old before it's hard-boiled.

* Buying Chickens: Check the Yellow Pages for feed stores in your area. Always call first, because many feed stores don't carry chickens, or carry them only occasionally. You can order by mail from Marti Poultry, P.O. Box 27, Windsor, Mo. 65360-0027. (816) 647-3156. Free catalogue.

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