According to my dear friend Lori, "happies" are things that make you feel...wait for it....HAPPY. They can be gifts, they can be things you buy for yourself, or anything else that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling of happiness. My two happies for this week are eggs and fairy gardens.
These aren't just any eggs, but special eggs of different sizes and colors. They were given to me as a gift from a friend who is part of a grass-fed beef CSA called Trail's End Organic Farm. Although it's not indicated on their website, I have to believe that the chickens were raised in different conditions than conventional eggs. Most eggs are from chickens crammed into cages, versus those allowed to stretch their legs (called "free range" but in the U.S., this just means chickens have access to the outside). Most farmers using organic growing practices take the term "free range" seriously and allow chickens to be pasture fed.
The different shell colors likely indicates that more than one breed of chickens contributed to this dozen. The shell color varies by breed. For example, the Araucana chicken lays blue eggs. And it's quite attractive.
Here's another interesting fact about eggs. The color of the egg yolk is a function of the carotenoid content (carotenoids are antioxidants...good stuff). Look at the difference in yolk color between a conventional egg (left) and my special blue egg (right):
The darker color means there are likely more antioxidants in the special egg. It could just be that the breed of chicken makes eggs with more carotenoids in the yolk, but more likely, they were raised on feed that contained either red peppers or marigold. These are two common ingredients added to chicken feed (or found in the pasture) to increase the color of the yolk.
Another interesting factoid...all eggs are considered to have the same nutrition content regardless of chicken breed and what they are fed. A large egg has only 70 calories and 6 grams of protein...pretty darn great. Even better, the cholesterol and saturated fat content of eggs has declined over the years, making them even healthier.
But how can a chicken raised on a conventional diet in small cages produce eggs with the same nutrition as a chicken raised on pasture? I doubt they do! Although the USDA doesn't recognize this evidence, an independent group looked at the nutrition content of eggs from pasture fed chickens and conventional chickens and what do you know, it looks like the pasture fed chickens make healthier eggs.
Best part, they were YUMMY. Much more flavorful than a conventional egg and prettier because of that dark yolk. I'm sold on the fancy eggs!
Here is my other happy...my new fairy garden.
I think this is the green-thumb-adult equivalent of having a doll house. If you google fairy gardens, you soon realize that this is an obsession for many people. I just like how peaceful it looks. I have it sitting in a large white pot outside my front door and I smile every time I look at it.
If only my real children were as quaint and quiet as these three.