Supporting the Little Guys

As the crab apple trees and lilacs both came into their full glory, filling the yard with the fragrance of a delayed Spring, I took an additional day of vacation to extend a long weekend, and frantically scrambled to eliminate as much dog and cat hair as possible, while putting together an extra-special spread for the women of my book club.  We are usually pretty low key, but it’s not every day we are honored with the author at the table with us!

Crab Apple Blossoms and Lilacs in Duluth

With a couple of mutual friends in the club, the author of Locally Laid was gracious enough to find time in her busy schedule to join us for the evening to discuss her book.  Lucie Amundsen was fresh off the circuit of events surrounding “One Book Northland,” the annual community-wide book event in Duluth, Minnesota, and is a frequent speaker and instructor on both writing and agriculture-related topics.

Locally Laid, the book

In full disclosure, but honestly not influencing my review of the book (otherwise, I would simply not have put together a blog post at all!), I have come to know Lucie through a variety of intersecting organizations and activities. Before I became acquainted with Lucie personally, though, I became acquainted with her eggs — those of you following my blog for some time may recall this frittata recipe and encouragement to vote for Locally Laid Eggs as part of the Super Bowl commercial promotion contest (link to that post here)!

Lucie herself is kind, smart, and humor-filled — and the book reads as you would expect from someone like that: well-written, funny, and enlightening about what smaller farmers face in trying to break into the big ag industry and over-crowded grocery shelves. While my family has been a fan of “LoLa,” the little chicken that could (along with her “truly worth-every-penny” eggs) from the beginning, I was not aware of the full story behind this start-up until reading the book. Alongside the business story you also receive a healthy dose of classic Northern Minnesota life and understand why we love it here.

Chicken napkin rings to honor Locally Laid.

My book club has gathered every other month or so for the past 5 years, rotating among our dining room tables in the evening after work, enjoying interesting conversation (sometimes which even touches upon the book!), while sharing a light dinner and wine. The book’s theme this time gave me a chance to break out the chicken napkin rings, and do a little fun browsing for “compatible” wines.

Poultry, Agriculture, and "Uncaged" Wines

And a special book club guest provided an excuse for a festive (yet simple-to-prepare) dessert: Fresh Blackberry Napoleons with Cream Cheese Mousse (link to full recipe provided).  To add a little color, I mixed in some raspberries with the blackberries, and used a four-berry preserve.  The recipe is easily adapted to a variety of fresh fruit preserves and berries.  It can be partially prepared ahead of time and ready to assemble just before serving – a perfect book club option!

Fresh Blackberry Napoleons with Cream Cheese Mousse

If only I had hosted this book later in the summer, I could have gone to “Farm LoLa” and picked the berries myself to use in the dessert!

Locally Laid is an award-winning book, and is an excellent choice for an engaging book club discussion.  If you are fortunate enough, perhaps you (with or without your book club in tow) can catch Lucie at one of her upcoming speaker events, listed on Locally Laid’s website: http://locallylaid.com/the-book/.

~ Kat

Have You Been Getting Locally Laid?

LoLa is the little chicken that could.  With only three more daily opportunities to vote for this small business and help LoLa win a Super Bowl ad, I have become even more enamored with this cheeky local farm, Locally Laid Egg Company (where “local chicks are better”). LoLa’s daily Facebook updates, her sassy photo ops, the company’s admirable sustainable philosophy and pasture-raised chickens, what is not to love?  But, arguably none of that matters if her eggs are nothing special.  Well, LoLa, every time I find a recipe where you can shine, you remind me of why I love you so!

* Disclaimer: I have no family or professional relationship with this company — read on and you will see why these eggs are worth writing about . . . not to mention a great frittata recipe to try.

Frittata Ingredients

When a frittata recipe calls for 10 eggs, the quality of the eggs will make or break the success of that dish.  A 10-egg frittata calls for eggs that are works of art.  Let me introduce you to LoLa’s eggs:

A Dozen Shades of LoLa
A Dozen Shades of LoLa

Large, larger and largest — in every subtle shade of brown and cream, with a hand-rubbed glow to them, they could just as easily sit in as the table centerpiece.  This evening they were called into action as the main ingredient of the Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Herb Frittata (recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma).  The summer herbs have not been nipped by a hard frost yet, so a few cuttings from the herb pots on our front steps were pulled in, along with a mix of chopped mushrooms and shallots, and a small dose of red pepper flakes, .

Chopped frittata ingredients

Sautéing the chopped ingredients with a little olive oil filled the kitchen with the fragrant bouquet of fresh herbs.

Chopped frittata ingredients in the saute pan

Then it was time to have LoLa strut her stuff.  The eggs cracked cleanly and easily, with no worry of shell shards making their way into the mix.

Thick shells, perfect yolks

I used a relatively deep stainless steel mixing bowl.  Egg after egg dropped their yolk to the bottom, and the perfect yellow orbs remained.

Perfect yellow yolk orbs

After adding the cream and beating the eggs, the fresh goat cheese and mushroom mixture were added.  This recipe was a true frittata, initially pouring the mixture into a skillet with a little heated olive oil, before finishing the dish with a topping of Parmesan cheese under the broiler.

Skillet step of the frittata

The color of the eggs is exceptional — a rich golden hue. No rubbery texture or bland taste.  The eggs make this dish.

Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Herb Frittata ala Lola

Throw in a little salad with some of the season-end tomatoes and onions from our Northern Harvest Farm CSA share, and you have a plate full of local farm love.

Plate of local farm love

The full recipe for the Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Herb Frittata can be found on the Williams-Sonoma blog, Taste.  (Link to recipe, here).

Ciao! ~ Kat

P.S.  If you want to help local chicks make it to the Super Bowl, vote daily the next three days for Locally Laid Egg Company through the “vote for us” link on their website.  And if you miss out on this opportunity, check out their t-shirts instead!  LoLa’s fame is spreading, so keep watching your local Co-op or grocery store for a chance to enjoy LoLa firsthand.