All About Food: How do you like your eggs?

"The Great Goddess of darkness, Mother Night, Persephone, brought forth the World Egg in the beginning, mirrored now in the Moon. Then the world was one warm, glowing, single un-split thing. It rocked gently, a crack appeared, and the multifarious world was born."

— "The Truth About Eggs" by Levana Lindentree

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Eggs have been a symbol of generation and regeneration since ancient times. Even the Easter bunny's brightly colored gifts are a symbolic way of wishing you children.

Personally, we prefer to see eggs scrambled, sunny side up or hardboiled. There's no question that the best eggs are the freshest if you've ever had the pleasure of eating them still warm from the hen.

The next best thing is to bring home a dozen from Christine Froemke's stand at the Farmer's Market on Friday at Laguna Hills, Saturday in Laguna Beach and Sunday in Laguna Niguel. The supply of these very fresh eggs is limited, so you must reserve ahead to get on her list. Email her at gonestraw@yahoo.com, or call or text her at (951) 453-0875.

Christine is a lovely, personable, down-to-Earth woman who has great enthusiasm for what she does. She grew up on a ranch in Northern California, where she was in the 4H Club, rode horses and always wanted to have lots of animals. Yet in college she majored in interior design and sociology.

Her true love for living on the land resurfaced when she and her husband, Reese McClure, discovered Moreno Valley and bought 11 acres of land where they now run Gonestraw Farms.

There, they raise free-range chicken and ducks, along with four goats for weed abatement (Fiona, Little Guy, Bonny and Clyde), five dogs for herding and one sheep (Larry) for fun. She would also like to have a horse, donkey or llama to help with their serious coyote problems. Fencing in 11 acres would be expensive and not really a deterrent because coyotes, when motivated, can jump very high.

Christine is loath to name her new chickens because it seems that every time she named one, she loses it to the coyotes. Her original batch of 25 chickens had names like Speck, Elvisita, Casey and Frankie.

Someone once brought Reese and Christine some ducks to raise, and promised to buy the eggs for $5 a dozen, but he changed his mind and just disappeared, leaving the ducks behind. They then attempted unsuccessfully to sell them on Craigslist.

This kind of hybrid duck, a white egg layer, doesn't fly away, so now they sell duck eggs as well. These eggs, which are 30% larger and have a stronger flavor, are great for baking as there is more fat in the yolk, more protein in the white and less water.

They are also good for making richer, creamier pastas and frittatas. One of Christine's baking secrets is that she uses packaged chocolate cake mix but adds duck eggs, which changes the flavor enormously.

All of the chickens and ducks are cage-free, free-range and feast on natural grasses, alfalfa, hay and lay mash (a combination of oyster shells and grains to harden up the shell of the eggs). They are also fed the leftover leafy greens from the Farmer's Market.

It takes 20 to 24 weeks before a chicken is mature enough to lay eggs and it only lays one a day. Collecting them, washing them and packing them are Reese's jobs.

He also feeds them and occasionally dresses them. No, not in cute little outfits — he kills them, cleans them and prepares them for consumption. They are primarily roosters, which are basically useless, as you only really need one or two for fertilization. Theirs are named Ralph and Fred.

At her stand, Christine also sells Drake Family Farms fresh chevre in a variety of flavors, and raw feta with sundried tomatoes.

Treat yourself to a dozen of these eggs, and you will never want to buy supermarket eggs again.

ELLE HARROW and TERRY MARKOWITZ were in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. They can be reached for comments or questions at m_markowitz@cox.net.

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