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An Ohio Egg Adventure + 10 Tips for Making Great Eggs

You all know by now that we really love eggs around these parts. Eggs are what I make when I don’t have a plan, when the fridge is nearly empty, and when all I want to do is crash on the couch and watch Arrested Development until my brain leaks out my ears. Even when I’m exhausted, I know I can avoid the shame-filled drive to Rally’s if we at least have a carton of eggs in the fridge.

We throw eggs into salads, put em on waffles, and even sandwich them in quesadillas. And that doesn’t count all the eggs we use for things like Angel Food French Toast or Caramel Banana Bundt Cake . Even with just two of us in the house, we easily go through a dozen eggs a week.

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Over the past few years, we’ve been making more of an effort to learn where our food comes from and find ways we can support local farmers with our hard earned grocery money. It’s so easy to take the common egg for granted and forget the people, chickens, and process that brings them to our table. That’s why I was thrilled to get an in-depth look at all that goes into egg production through a three day blogging egg-stravaganza (how could I resist??) organized by the Ohio Poultry Association. If you’ve ever been curious about how an egg farm works, where our eggs come from, or how to make the perfect omelet, the rest of this post is for you.

Ohio is the second largest egg producer in the country and is home to 30 million laying chickens. The Ohio Poultry Association includes over 600 egg farmers, each of whom are committed to sharing best practices and educating the public about egg production. During our trip, we got to spend time with two of these farmers and even take a tour through one of their farms, Weaver Brothers Farm, in Versailles, OH.

Here is our group outside Weaver Brothers in our sexy egg farm suits. These suits help keep the chickens safe from viruses we could pass on to them. Plus, they just look really good, right?

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Here’s what I want you to know about these farms. They are family businesses, passed down over four generations, which means they’ve been in the egg business for over 80 years. These farmers are committed. They are passionate. You don’t work 365 days a year for 80 years without passion.

These farmers care about every part of the process of egg production, starting from the chicken on. The farmers understand that happy, healthy chickens make the best eggs, and they’ve done a lot of research to determine what conditions keep chickens happy and healthy. The egg industry has at times been vilified for everything from chicken abuse to spreading food bourne illnesses, but after spending time in an egg farm I can tell you with confidence these farmers do everything they possibly can to care for their chickens. The farmers take a lot of pride in exceeding every standard and ensuring they provide customers with safe, nutritious, affordable food. The farmers were completely transparent with us. They were willing to answer any question we threw at them (and we gave them a lot!), and they allowed us to see every part of the process. We even got to hold a chicken!

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The process of egg production is truly astounding. Machines do everything from check the eggs for dirt or cracks to turn them the right way so they fit in the carton correctly. Eggs are washed and rewashed , scanned with UV rays to kill bacteria, and searched for any imperfections. What impressed me most about the process is that nothing is wasted. Imperfect eggs are sold as food to mink farmers, and cracked or broken eggs are pasteurized and used for pre-cooked egg products. The process is so efficient, most eggs go from the chicken to the supermarket within 3 days.

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Beyond the chickens, these farmers also care for their employees and communities. Weaver Farms alone employs over 300 people, while the entire egg industry in Ohio creates more than 14,600 jobs annually. Weaver Farms believes it is their responsibility to care for the environment as well, putting in practice policies which protect water, air, and soil quality.

If you’d like to learn more about the Ohio Poultry Association, check out their website which includes a lot of great resources!

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And now it’s time to eat! An adventure filled with food bloggers wouldn’t be complete without some incredible food! We packed an impressive number of Columbus favorites into the 3 day event, and it was so much fun for me to see them through different eyes and even discover some new-to-me places right here in my city. Here were my top picks:

The trip started with a mead tasting at Brother’s Drake Meadery and dinner from Tokyo Go Go. Brother’s Drake was new to me, but I’m sure it will become a regular stop. Mainly because of this Apple Pie Mead. I can’t even, you guys.

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The morning commenced with a visit to Bob Evan’s headquarters where we got a tour of their test kitchens and an excellent breakfast. Did you know Bob Evan’s started out as a sausage company? I’m a total sucker for their sausage gravy and biscuits. Here’s our group standing next to one of the original sausage delivery trucks!

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After the egg tour we visited another new-to-me place, Six Hundred Down Town, located about 45 minutes from Columbus in Bellfountaine. The owner, who is a competitive pizza dough thrower, is churning out some seriously good pies in this small town joint. This Greek pizza was my favorite!

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That evening we went on a tour of German Village which included my favorite game-watching place, Max and Erma’s, and a killer sunset walk through the brick lined streets. Columbus really put on a show for our out of town guests. You  never would have guessed it had snowed the previous weekend!

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The always swanky Lindey’s served us their famous Lindey’s Eggs Benedict, which is a sinfully delicious poached egg balanced atop filet mignon. Be still my soul. (That’s Emily from Jelly Toast snagging a pic as well. Totally inceptioned this one!)

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For dinner, I got to try G. Michael’s fried chicken for the first time. It was outrageously good and a HUGE portion. So huge, in fact, that the Mr. got to experience my leftovers the following day. I highly recommend checking out G. Michael’s during restaurant week. It’s a great way to get an exceptional three course meal on a budget.

Dessert that night came from Cup O’ Joe. I’ve honestly never ordered dessert there (shame on me!), because I’ve always thought of them as a coffee shop, not a bakery. After trying their blueberry cheesecake, I have seen the light. This place is worth a special trip just for dessert, but I recommend you give their Mocha Joe a try as well. It’s my favorite!

The next morning (yes, we’re still eating!), we went to Tasi Cafe, which is definitely in my top 5 brunch spots in Columbus. I tried their poached eggs over black bean cakes for the first time. Such a unique and flavorful recipe with just the right texture.

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Of course, no trek to Columbus is complete without a trip to Jeni’s Ice Creams. No photo evidence is available, because when French Toast Ice Cream is in front of you, all other matters go out the window. My other top picks? Brambleberry Crisp, Dark Chocolate, and the Pear Riesling Sorbet (not all at once, ya weirdos!)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our host and chef egg-strodinaire, Jim Chakeries, Vice President of the Ohio Poultry Association, who not only answered all our questions but also showed us how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave, flip an omelet, and craft an irresistible eggs benedict in only 10 minutes time.

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I’m sharing some of his tips for splendid eggs below plus a few of my own. The only thing standing between you and delicious is the crack of an egg.

10 Tips For Great Eggs At Home

1. Always crack an egg on a flat surface instead of the side of bowl. This reduces contaminants and helps keep shells out of your food.

2. Low and slow makes the best, creamiest scrambled eggs. Start with a cold skillet and keep the heat low while they cook.

3. In general, add milk or cream to scrambled eggs but water to omelets.

4. In a hurry? You can make scrambled eggs in your microwave in less than 2 minutes. Just spray a coffee cup with cooking spray than add 2 eggs and 2 Tablespoons milk. Whisk together then microwave for 45 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 35-45 seconds or until just set. Cover with cheese and season as you like!

4. 2 eggs + 2 Tablespoons of water is the perfect proportion for omelets.

5. 1/2 an eggshell holds approximately 2 Tablespoons.

6. A 4 ounce ladle divies out the perfect 2 egg omelet portion! Speaking of omelets, they’re the perfect vehicle for leftovers!

7. Need a quick eggs benedict recipe? Replace the hollandaise sauce with a vegetable cream cheese and use a fried egg instead of poached. You’d be surprised how close it tastes and it takes only 5 minutes!

8. Try poaching eggs in different liquids–apple cider, wine, or tomato sauce will all lend different flavors.

9. Plastic ziplock bags with a small hole cut from the corner make the perfect no mess, no clean up piping bag for deviled eggs.

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10. Get past the mayo or miracle whip debate! Deviled eggs can be made with sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt as well!

And a bonus 11. The best way to hard boil an egg: Place in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then cover, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 12 minutes. They’re perfect every time.

I’ll be sharing a little more about our deviled egg fiesta on Sunday, but until then I hope these tips inspire you to get cracking (literally!)

Disclosure: I was invited by the Ohio Poultry Association to attend this Ohio Egg Event which was paid for by the OPA. All opinions expressed in this post are, as always, 100% my own. 

 

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  • Nancy April 24, 2014, 7:26 PM

    What a fantastic event, Courtney! I loved seeing all the photos people were posting on Instagram during the weekend and this is a great recap. Since watching and being horrified by documentaries like Food Inc. and all the news stories about the way animals destined for consumption are treated, I try to buy as locally and humanely as possible. I’m so glad to see that Weavers Brothers Farm cares about its poultry and community. And yes, those bio-hazard bunny suits are total hawtness 😉

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood April 25, 2014, 10:34 AM

      It was definitely good for me to get a different perspective other than Food Inc. (which is horrifying!) I know that the things depicted there do happen in some corporate farms, but I was very happy and impressed by the care shown by the farmers we visited here in Ohio. It was obvious that safety and the welfare of the animals were top priorities, which was really encouraging. At least here it’s not all just about the bottom line!

  • Roz April 24, 2014, 10:09 PM

    Courtney, I am married to a born and bred Ohio man (from Athens and educated at Ohio U. and Ohio State), such an avid OSU fan that we name our beloved golden retriever Buckeye! I am such a crazy fanatic about eggs, how the chickens are bred and treated, etc. I cannot imagine my kitchen without beautiful, fresh eggs and wish that I could have fresh eggs on a daily basis. I will be so excited to share this post with my husband . . . anything related to Ohio, is perfection to him! Thank you for the tips as well,
    Grazie mille,
    Roz
    La Bella Vita Cucina (blog)

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood April 25, 2014, 10:32 AM

      That is awesome Roz! We are huge Buckeye fans around here too. It’s nearly impossible not to be when you live in Columbus. I hope your husband enjoys reading about his home state. It really is awesome to see how well the farms treat their chickens and how much they care about the process.

  • Confessions of a Culinary Diva April 24, 2014, 10:11 PM

    Great tips! I really enjoyed the post and learning about the Ohio Eggs and culinary adventures. It would be hard to remember to take a photo when Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is in front of you.

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood April 25, 2014, 10:36 AM

      Thanks so much! And yes, Jeni’s tends to render all other things irrelevant. 🙂

  • Best Food Facts April 25, 2014, 11:40 AM

    Hi Courtney, it’s Jennifer from Best Food Facts. I had the pleasure of eating lunch with you at the Mixed conference. Loved your post and it reminded me just how far away lunch was… :). I thought after your egg-adventure you might find the BestFoodFacts.org post on cage-free vs. free-range eggs interesting. Have a great Friday!

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