A Visit to a Hen House

This post all began when I noticed that the peppers growing in our backyard were getting larger and larger. There were shiny green peppers, and a bunch of glowing red hot peppers. Thinking “green pepper” made me think of the pepper and egg sandwiches that were sold on Fridays at the Italian beef stands near where I grew up in Chicago. We would go to Connie’s Italian Beef, a dark hole-in-the-wall shop, manned by what looked like the Mafia, and where Italian beef sandwiches sold for 40 cents. (Shows how long ago this was.) On Fridays, they made pepper and egg sandwiches, with eggs and oily peppers piled on top of a split French roll. Wrapped in greasy waxed paper, they smelled good! I decided to give them a try in my own kitchen.

We had the peppers, now where to get the eggs? Of course, I could go to the grocery store, but that would be too easy! So Jim and I decided to go to Primrose Farm, a local farm from the 1930s, which is part of the St. Charles Park system. I had heard that they had a farm stand offering free-range eggs, and that you could meet the hens.

The next day, after a ten-minute drive later, we found ourselves at the farm. It was a beautiful day, and we made a stop at the hen house before going to the farm stand. The chickens are a variety called “Columbian Wyandotte.”

Columbian Wyandotte hens
Columbian Wyandotte hens
A closer look at some hens.
A closer look at some hens.

They have their own chicken house, and get into it via a front door, or a side ramp.

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They are very photogenic!
They are very photogenic!

Here is the view from the hen house. We should all be so lucky!

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After admiring the hens, we stopped by the farm stand and purchased some eggs. And on the way we saw these sweet cows.

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Free-range eggs from a local farm.
Free-range eggs from a local farm.

As it turned out, the eggs from the Columbian Wyandottes were given to kids taking part in programs at the farm. So the eggs we purchased were from a nearby farm, and were also free range.

It had been a beautiful day, and we will return.

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Now, to the Pepper and Egg Sandwiches. This is a loose recipe, scaled for two people. You will need eggs, green peppers, garlic, olive oil, salt, and rolls. We were lucky enough to have crusty rolls from an Italian bakery, but any kind of long crusty roll or Italian bread will work. Also, you don’t have to make a special trip to a farm stand for the eggs–most grocery stores now offer free-range eggs.

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Slice up a green pepper (one is enough for two people), and fry in olive oil, along with a crushed garlic clove and a shake of salt. You can also slice up a hot pepper and add it, as well.

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For the scrambled eggs, I recommend five eggs for two people. Scramble the eggs using one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon on olive oil. While this is heating up, beat your eggs thoroughly, adding some salt. Pour into the heated frying pan. Keep the heat low, and scrape the curds of eggs to the center as they cook. When they are almost done, turn off the heat and put the lid on for a minute. They will finish cooking and stay fluffy. (I have a picture of some rather glistening scrambled eggs, but think it’s better if you use your imagination!)

At this point, slice open your rolls. Apportion the scrambled eggs to each roll, and top with the cooked peppers. Drizzle on any of the garlic-flavored oil left in the pan.

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You can top with some mozzarella, if you want, and roll up the sandwich in foil. Place in a 300 degree oven for about five minutes to warm the roll and melt the cheese.

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Time to eat. (Whoops–cheese not quite melted–but still tasty!)

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This is my take on pepper and egg sandwiches, but you might also want to watch a video from the Great Depression Cooking with Clara series. Clara was in her nineties when this video was made. Be sure to watch both Part I and II! She cooks her eggs with the peppers, and it also looks good!

One more chicken picture!

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Peace to you. Fran

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