Dear me, I meant to write this post for this month’s full moon, but since we are getting ready to dye eggs for Easter today, I suppose this is just as well:
In colonial America, the full moons of early spring were called Egg Moons. The longer days and increased light of the season stimulated the pituitary glands of the hens in the chicken yard, and as the hours of sunlight increased, so did egg laying. Those of us with chickens in the backyard know this cycle well. Though our first-year hens may lay every day during the winter, by year two or so the eggs gathered in the dark months dwindles. Then, just as we feel our own spirits rising with the light and green of spring, we watch the hens’ natural response to the season spill forth from their little coop.
Whether you have your own chickens, or purchase eggs from a small, local farm (apart from the artificiality of the bright-light-all-day-and-night corporate agriculture system), it feels delightful to be part of this rhythm.
Eggs are one of the most compactly nutritious foods available to humans, and eggs from backyard chickens–content with just a bit of space and a small coop–have been a staple for families in temperate climates around the world for thousands of years. It is no wonder eggs, symbols of wholeness, completeness, and new life, are celebrated this time of year.
The best way to celebrate eggs is by eating them. Skillet-poached Huevos Rancheros is one of our favorite quick meals. You can do it right, of course: soak your beans and make homemade salsa. But I’m going to give you the busy weeknight straight-from-the-pantry version.
Simple Skillet-Poached Huevos Rancheros
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed
1 15 ounce jar or tub of salsa (much of the seasoning/flavor will come from the salsa, so make sure it’s one you love)
4 beautiful eggs
Pour the beans and salsa into a skillet (we actually use a wok, which works great), and bring to a simmer. One at a time, crack each egg into a small dish, make a little well in the simmering beans with a big spoon, and slip the egg in.
Simmer covered until the yolks are cooked as you like them–about five minutes or so, for slightly runny yolks. Serve with warmed tortillas and your favorite condiments: avacado, shredded cheese, yogurt/sour cream, cilantro, goat cheese…
And for more on full moons and food, have a look at Jessica Prentice’s lovely book, Full Moon Feast.