My tenure as chicken foreman started out well. I was doing my share of egg collecting, keeping an eye out for the crafty hens that mysteriously appear outside the 10-foot pasture fence, and remembering (for the most part) to remind my fellow apprentices to close the main coop at night. I had even taken to letting the girls out at 6 a.m. before my daily laps round the loop at the bottom of the farm driveway. (I run this early so my friends at Love Apple don’t think I’m one of those crazies who blabbers on about runner’s high, but I’ll come clean here and just admit that I am.)
All in all, things seemed to be working out nicely for me with my new assignment. I couldn’t help but admire the chickens in the small coop as I went to collect the eggs there several afternoons ago—though they’re older than the 60 young hens in the main coop, the 10 of them present a lovely picture of speckled, gold, and silvery lavender. As I opened the door and walked up to the laying boxes, I looked at them fondly: they were so peaceful clucking gently around my ankles. I’d forgotten a basket for the eggs, but I made a loose pouch with the front of my t-shirt and began collecting, gathering seven before confidently stretching towards the last box for the remaining two. Unfortunately, then my grip slipped.
It was bad enough that I dropped all seven eggs, which fell in a noisy splatter at my feet. But the chickens (did I call them peaceful?)—they were the real shock. With a din of cackling I was attacked on all sides, beady-eyed heads ravenously devouring the yolks and snapping at the shells. One got a particularly good bite and, with a glop of egg white hanging comically from its beak, took off for a victory lap with several contenders in tow. It was all over in about 15 seconds, but I stood immobilized for minute before grabbing the last two eggs and hurrying down to the garden tent, where my cottage mate Christine surveyed them suspiciously. “There were only two eggs today?” she asked. And then I did something that I’m ashamed to admit—I lied. “Just two. Those older chickens must be really slowing down, huh?”
My egg carnage incident aside, up at the cottage we sometimes struggle to make it through the 60 or so eggs the farm gets each day. Any dish that uses more than a handful is primed for repetition, which is why when Ross and I struck upon spaghetti carbonara the other night I knew we had a winner. We did, evidenced by the fact that I had four servings, then came back to scrape the bowl. And really, that’s why I run—the best part of the runner’s high I know is the wonderful eating that follows.
Ross’ Spaghetti Carbonara
As with all recipes that have few ingredients, quality is key—farms eggs (especially the double-yolkers) are naturally delicious, and we were lucky enough to have Niman Ranch bacon. We didn’t have any parmesan and the results were still amazing, but if you do I’d throw some in—you won’t regret it.
4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup milk
17 oz spaghetti (one package)
parmesan or pecorino romano (optional)
Separate the egg yolks from the whites, putting the whites aside, then beat the yolks until mixed and add the milk to thin. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the bacon, rendering until brown but not crispy. Add the onions and caramelize (you can add a bit of water if the pan gets too dry), then add the garlic to sweat for a few minutes and turn off the heat. In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente and strain. Add pasta to bacon and onions (check that the saucepan is no longer hot), then pour in the egg yolks and toss until the pasta is creamy.