During farmers market season, it's easy to shop at local markets for the freshest produce, meat and dairy available. It becomes a little more difficult to support your local farmer during the off season, but we are pleased to announce a collaboration that will make it convenient for you! We are partnering with Verdant Hollow Farm in Michigan to bring you pasture raised eggs for pick up at our Merchandise Mart location.
Verdant Hollow is a 225-acre sustainable farm located in the heart of Southwest Michigan’s agricultural belt. It produces organically grown crops, pasture raised meat and eggs, and provides guests an opportunity to reconnect with nature amid a pastoral setting of fields, forests, and personal discovery.
Brett Muchow and Molly Muchow, farm managers/land stewards at Verdant Hollow Farms
Verdant Hollow Farms is a farming operation that restores soils, water, and woodlands using organic and permaculture practices. They celebrate the natural features of the land as a working farm with animals and vegetables and invite visitors and local community. Visiting individuals and groups are immersed and educated in the environment and the organic farming practices while enjoying high quality food, modest accommodations, and spaces for exploration.
Farm Manager Molly Muchow says that since their main goal is to regenerate the ecosystem of the farm, all of their livestock has a “job” when it comes to land stewardship. "Chickens are the backbone of this system. They are incredible workers and do a wonderful job of fertilizing pasture, clearing out weeds, and making use of our garden scraps," says Molly.
The chickens live full time in a Prairie Schooner that gets moved one to two times a week and opens up so that they can have daily access to fresh pasture. All of their chickens are fed an organic, soy free, whole grain ration that they source locally in order to reduce the carbon footprint of raising livestock.
Molly and Garden Manager Alyssa Brake
When a chicken is raised on pasture it will lay the most nutrient dense egg available. Chickens are omnivores and thrive in an environment where they can eat insects, worms, and a diverse “greens” diet. In fact, not only can you taste this difference in the eggs, but you can see it. After trying Verdant Hollow eggs for the first time, many customers comment on how orange their egg yolks are, which is evidence of their healthy diet and exposure to the outdoors.
Verdant Hollow Farms' egg laying chickens are also Animal Welfare Approved, a certification that means they are cared for under the strictest animal welfare standards in the U.S.
These amazing eggs can obviously be used in any recipe that calls for eggs such as Crustless Quiche, German Pancakes, Chilaquiles and Instant Pot hard boiled eggs. But one of Molly's favorite egg recipes is Shakshuka.
Red and Yellow Pepper Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spiced Tomato-Pepper Sauce with Feta Cheese)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Active time: 40 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 5 minutes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded sliced
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, rough chopped
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
Water, as needed
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Za’atar bread, for serving
- Heat a large, wide pan over medium-low heat, and add the cumin seeds. Toast the cumin until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium, add the oil and onions to the pan, and cook until the onions are soft and tender, about 6 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and stir in the peppers, sugar, bay leaf, thyme leaves, parsley and cilantro. Sauté the vegetables until caramelized around the edges, 7 to 9 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, saffron, and cayenne, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
- To cook the eggs, make a gap or well in the sauce for the eggs to sit. Carefully break an egg into each of the eight wells. Season the eggs with salt and pepper to taste, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook on the lowest setting for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eggs are just set.
- Sprinkle with feta cheese and cilantro, and serve with za’atar bread.
If you are interested in tasting Verdant Hollow Farms eggs, they are now available for pickup at The Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart once a month. Our first pickup date is Thursday, November 14 so place the order for your first dozen now. We'll add more pickup dates as necessary for demand so be sure to tell your friends!