A2eatwrite: Local Love Fridays - Our Family Farm
Here is a puzzle:
What are these two objects, and what do they have to do with baking?
If you guessed that the one on the left is a duck egg, and the one on the right is a chicken egg, you would be correct. If you know that duck eggs can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary in terms of baking, you win a blue ribbon.
Our Family Farm is owned by "Farmer John" Hochstetler and his wife, Lois. I asked Lois how she found out about using duck eggs in baking.
Well, "Grandma" told her.Grandma of Grandma's Kitchen (another Farmers Market staple business), that is. It seems that many grandmas have let people in on this baking secret - substitute a duck egg for a chicken egg, one for one in any recipe, and your cakes will rise higher, baked goods will be moist, and breads will develop a luxurious and silken texture.
Does this go beyond conventional wisdom?
Jamie Oliver, who first got his professional chops as Head Pastry Chef for the Neal Street restaurant in London before going on to his career as a television chef, has this to say about duck eggs: "A duck egg yolk has more fat than a chicken egg and its white has more protein. This means the white builds a loftier structure when whipped and the extra fat makes the baked good richer. Fluffier and richer? Um, yeah! This, my friend, is how old farm ladies win state fair baking competitions."
Duck eggs are $3 for the half dozen at Our Family Farm, and they're worth every penny by my reckoning. They started raising Pekin ducks for eggs because someone asked Lois if they had duck eggs and Lois asked John why not? She thought it might be a fun project, and so they took it on. And this is an illustration of the general spirit of Our Family Farm and why it's a different kind of farm with a different kind of CSA program.
John Hochstetler comes from many generations of farmers. His father bought the current farm in 1948 and John's farmed it his whole life. He's seen trends come and go. He's happy to now raise free range chickens who eat a natural diet and lead good lives outside. He's started working with hydroponics - you can find beautiful heads of lettuce at his stand and sweet, lovely hydroponic strawberries - just as juicy as if now is the height of strawberry season.He's one of only four Michigan farmers to grown hydroponic lettuce (one of the others, Carpenter's Organics, also sells at the Farmers Market). He put in hoop houses this spring and he's hoping to give Shannon Brines of Brines Farm some competition this winter, selling kale and other greens during the winter months. He also follows organic principles although he is not organic certified - he uses sustainable agriculture practices, and does not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Our Family Farm's mission is to produce healthy food, and their motto is: "Health from the farm, not the pharmacy."
Our Family Farm also has two CSA programs: a traditional CSA program in the summer, which provides share members with seasonal produce and eggs, and a winter CSA, that will include chickens (which are given access to hoop houses when the weather gets too cold), eggs, optional pork, greens and a turkey at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Farmer John also sells at the Farmers Market year round - you can find his delicious eggs any time of year.
Our Family Farm can be found Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, or you can get information about the CSA program by calling 734-428-9100. You can also find more information about the summer CSA on his website. Winter CSA information will be posted soon.Each Friday, I will be highlighting a small, local food business.