Last night, I left a party with two dozen eggs. Other guests leaving the grand home and estate of Moss Mountain Farm, home to gardening expert P. Allen Smith, had goodie bags of cookware and seed-saving kits, full stomachs and full camera cards. I, however, carried away cartons of pencil-marked, promising eggs. As if we need more chickens at Maple Valley! I’m tickled pink to have a chance to hatch heritage breeds raised by Allen in his work with the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. Hopefully, with TLC and a little luck, we’ll soon add these quality-bred Buff Orpington and Plymouth Rock fuzzy chicks to our farm flocks. Peaches needs a friend, don’t you think?
There’s a lot of mystery in these next three weeks: some eggs aren’t marked with a breed I.D., and we don’t know if they’ll be waddling hens or proud and loud roosters. It’s a lot like the wonder of starting our many heirloom seeds in the Cooking Light garden. Seed catalogs seduced us with pictures and promises, like the Emerald Gem melon, touted as “altogether unapproached in delicious flavor and luscious beyond description.” How could you not plant that? Phillip, our Executive Managing Editor, is on the hunt to find a melon similar to one he fell in love with at the market last summer — which brings it all back to our dinner table and why we are growing fresh foods for our recipes. It’s not about how you say to-may-toe or ta-mah-to. It’s about enjoying and reviving the hundreds of varieties that aren’t commonly seen on store shelves.