Farm to Table

Proudly showing off fresh eggs from the hen house

Caleb and Sadie both had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off from school, so I took a vacation day from work and we headed off to Sonoma to visit my sisters, Niki and Jody.

Jody lives near the center of town in Sonoma, but Niki (my oldest sister) and her husband Michael recently moved from San Francisco and bought a house with some land down a country road, just outside of town. Located in a bucolic setting, their new country home is surrounded by open space, and is located directly across from a vineyard…just beautiful.

My ‘city mouse’ sister has finally heeded her ‘country mouse’ calling. Not only does she grow her own veggies now, but she has a chicken coop and a gang of egg-laying hens to boot.

After lunch, we walked to the hen house, located toward the back of the property. With flashlight and small egg-gathering baskets in hand, we stepped into the dark coop. While the hens were out wandering around the property, Caleb and Sadie each took turns gathering freshly laid eggs. They placed their eggs so carefully in the little baskets and walked them very gingerly back to the house. These kids are accustomed to buying their eggs at Trader Joe’s, so to see them gather freshly laid eggs and put them gently in a basket to take back to the kitchen, was a particularly awesome experience.

Visiting with Auntie Jody (left) and Auntie Niki (center)

The fine ladies roaming the property

Every farm needs a good pony ride!

Niki washed the eggs and put them in a recycled egg carton for us to transport back to El Cerrito. We kissed, hugged, then said our goodbyes. In the car, Caleb and I discussed what we would cook with our farm fresh eggs. I suggested an old-fashioned rice pudding recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook and I’m sure I had him at “rice” or was it “pudding?”

Once we settled in back at home, I opened up my well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking and we began to cook. As a child, rice pudding was a very special occasion whenever my mom had leftover rice in the refrigerator. I loved it slightly warmed, just after dinner, with a little cold milk drizzled over my portion.

This old-fashioned recipe felt like the perfect vehicle for our eggs fresh from the farm. It was also a great way to wrap up a sweet day in the country. Just after dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed our rice pudding. We talked about how the eggs that Sadie and Caleb had gathered earlier in the day, made it possible for us to enjoy our delicious dessert.

This was an invaluable culinary lesson for my nearly-city-kids to learn at such a young age. Thanks to Auntie Niki and Auntie Jody (and Uncle Mike!) for a memorable day spent in the country, and for making such an unforgettable farm-to-table experience possible for us.

Rice pudding just out of the oven

Baked Rice Pudding

Adapted from Joy of Cooking. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

2 cups short- or medium-grain boiled rice (leftovers work well)

1 ½ cup milk

1/8 tsp salt

4 to 6 TB of sugar or ½ cup brown sugar

1 TB soft butter

1tsp vanilla

2-4 eggs

Add:

½ tsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp lemon juice

Dash of cinnamon

1/3 cup of raisins

Method:

Combine these ingredients lightly with a fork. Grease a baking dish. Pour the pudding into the dish and bake until set – about 50 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

This is a very kid-friendly recipe. Not too sweet and hard not to love.