As you may be aware, in the Spring we restocked our chicken pen with a few hens, three to be precise. A little trio of cheerful egg laying ladies who provide us with an abundance of the most beautiful eggs for very little in return.
Once the initial hardware has been purchased, the ark (which should last for many years) the feeder and water holder, the only financial outlay is some straw for the egg box, a bag of good quality layers pellets about every six to eight weeks (about £8.50) and a bag of mixed corn which lasts a lot longer as they only require a small handful for afternoon tea. The occasional treatments for any pests such as red mite do not add up to very much over the year, so all in all I would say we get a very good return for our money.
They eat any left over bread, boiled up potato peelings, excess from the vegetable patch, spoiled fruit (not mouldy) and most gratefully, ground elder and fat hen. They fertilise the garden, devour the bugs and the slugs and as a bonus the used straw and droppings in the pen area go into the compost bins, which goes back onto the garden to feed the soil for next year.
On the not so good side, although I do love seeing them in the garden, they do trample the beds with their rather large feet and they have a penchant for certain plants. This year they have managed to munch their way through all the lobelia in the summer planters which, to put it mildly, is a nuisance. And if they poop near the house I can guarantee it will be my husband who treads in it, which makes him grumpy, which in turn makes me laugh, a state of affairs which never ends well.
At the moment the hens are in peak laying mode and are all laying one egg a day. Even if I bake a couple of cakes a week, 21 eggs over a seven day period is usually too many for three of us, so when our lovely neighbour gives us his empty little egg box we happily replenish it for him. We love Colin!!
Our little feathered friends are such funny creatures, we have three different varieties and each one has is own little quirky ways. The ginger one is the most forward and bossy, she barges the others out of the way to get all the rich pickings. The grey speckaldy is very laid back, friendly and I suspect the most clever out of the three. Seemingly lacking in brains, the white one is the most skittish and nervous, although for the last three mornings I have found her in the vegetable patch, strictly out of bounds for the hens for obvious reasons, so I am beginning to wonder if she is as daft as she makes out.
I won’t go into the realms of the poached egg again, suffice to say that they are only at their very best when made from the freshest of eggs. This post is about using up the backlog of eggs that builds up by the end of the week. If I find the egg holder full and eggs filling up various bowls and baskets then a fritatta is on the menu. It can be eaten hot or cold and any leftovers are gobbled up at breakfast time by whoever gets to the kitchen first.
Basically a large omelette with added ingredients, there are no thick and fast rules about what vegetables can be used and I tend to throw in what I have to hand. This one used up some chard from the the vegetable patch and a handful of cherry tomatoes that needed eating.
Peas, asparagus, peppers, courgettes and spinach are all regulars as well as potatoes, although this takes it into Spanish Tortilla territory, its very similar cousin.
Personally, I rarely bother to do the very cheffy thing of flipping it over or sliding it onto a plate to serve unless I am cooking for company. It is most annoying if it breaks or sticks a little to the pan so I find it easier just to cut it and eat straight from the skillet. I think it looks nice in a pan anyway, it suits the sort of rustic way I like to eat (well that’s my excuse anyway.)
The ingredients list gives very approximate quantities, a few more or less vegetables either way will not make much difference so if you want to throw in a couple of mushrooms or fry some onions as well, go for it.
Most recipes finish the frittata in the oven, but I find it quicker and easier to stick it under a hot grill.
- 4 Tablespoons Olive or Rapeseed Oil
- Approx. 300-400g Swiss Chard (or Spinach) Roughly Chopped
- Approx. 8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- 7-8 Eggs, beaten
- Sea salt and Pepper
- Tablespoon of Fresh Parsley, chopped (optional)
- Preheat the grill.
- Heat the oil in a pan, add the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chard, season with salt and pepper and cook until wilted.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl. Do this thoroughly otherwise you will end up with solid bits of egg white.
- Add to the pan, stirring gently with a fork to distribute the vegetables.
- Stir gently, like cooking an omelette, to let the uncooked egg get to the sides of the pan.
- When the eggs are ¾ cooked through, pop the pan under the hot grill to finish for 4-5 minutes.
- Be careful when getting the pan out! Remember to use a cloth or oven glove.
- Sprinkle over the parsley if using.