March brings longer days, the first crocuses poking through the earth, and also the first day of spring. This time of year, chickens respond to the change in season by laying more eggs — sometimes up to one egg every 1.5 days! This year they have become so abundant that Island Grown Gleaning recently started collecting eggs as a gleaned local product, distributing them to people in need on the Island via the Food Pantry.
Local eggs are available at many island farms and businesses, including Cronig’s, Tisbury Farm Market, Blackwater Farm, and Ghost Island Farm. At 50 cents each, eggs are one of the least expensive local sources of protein available on Martha’s Vineyard. When shopping for eggs, check to see if they’re free-range, cage-free, organically fed, or all of the above. Free-range chickens who are able to forage for insects have deep yellow yolks, which are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. For more information on where to find local eggs, check our farm map at mvtimes.com/marthas-vineyard-farms/.
Eggs boiled for six minutes have a firm but custard-like yolk, and are tasty in salads or packed in a lunch box for a quick, protein-filled snack. You can also make a delicious quick breakfast by cooking leftover vegetables or potatoes in a pan, then whisking in eggs to make a veggie scramble. Eggs can even be turned into dessert! Try making our featured recipe, baked orange custard.
Baked Orange Custard
Recipe by Robin Forte
1½ cup sugar
1½ cups whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of one large orange
½ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
Heat oven to 325°. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat one cup of sugar over medium heat, swirling pan until sugar melts and turns a nice caramel color. Remove from heat and pour into a deep 8-inch glass pie dish. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Slowly heat the milk until it begins to simmer, then remove from heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and slowly add the warmed milk. Stir until the sugar is melted. Pour the custard over the caramel, then place the dish in a large roasting pan. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and add enough boiling water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the pie dish.
Bake the custard until it’s set on the edges, but still a little loose in the center, about 40-45 minutes.
Remove the pie dish from the water bath to cool. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. To serve, invert a serving dish over the pie plate, then flip the two together to allow the custard and its caramel sauce to fall on the serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve.
Ava Castro is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school program.