My great- great-grandmother Nellie was an expert in the realm of poultry husbandry. After graduating from high school in 1912 she went through the Quisenberry Poultry Course. Then, for the next 18 years, she trapnested, pedigreed and progeny tested poultry. What exactly does this mean? Poultry husbandry includes multiple principles including the following:
Quality and class of stock: understanding and knowing the best genotype for each situation.
Good husbandry: considering the health, welfare, and husbandry requirements for a stock
Maintenance of good health: from disease prevention to treatment
Nutrition for economic performance: formulating the best diet, based on various conditions such as class of bird, commodity prices and quality of ingredients
Good Stockpersonship: ensuring a "harmonious" interaction between the stock and the person responsible for their daily care.
Maximum use of management techniques: using techniques whenever possible to maximize production performance, efficiency and profitability
Record Keeping: efficient management practices to guide decision making and financial management
Marketing: be knowledgeable of current market research and understand supply and demand
Nellie was an expert in all of these areas, contributing to work at the University of Illinois, writing her own articles about poultry husbandry, and answering questions and requests from people across the northern hemisphere.
In this recipe I pay tribute to Nellie's poultry husbandry with a farmers egg and veggie brunch bake. Basically, it's a strata - a midwestern breakfast/brunch casserole. It falls into the family of frittatas and quiches only it's thicker, denser, and includes a ton of farm-fresh eggs and veggies.
I've put an * by the items I can purchase at my Illinois farmers market.
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups cherry tomatoes*
2 cups sliced zucchini*
8 cups dried bread, cubed (cut bread into 1 inch cubes, bake for 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven)*
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
8 farm fresh eggs*
3 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley*
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives*
1 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt and pinch of pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter and add the tomatoes and zucchini. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat once the tomatoes start to get a little squishy.
Add half of the bread cubes to a (greased) 3-quart baking dish. Then top with half of the zucchini and tomato mixture. Add the remaining bread cubes and then top with the last of the zucchini and tomato mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parsley, basil, chives, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Gently pour this egg mixture evenly over the bread/zucchini/tomato mixture in the baking dish.
Using a spatula, gently press down on the layers so that it soaks it soaks/absorbs. Then cover and chill and in the fridge for at least three hours but no more than a day.
When you're ready to bake take your casserole out of the fridge. Set it on the counter while you preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Bake for about an hour. You'll know it's done when it's set, puffed up. and golden brown. Let stand for about 10 minutes before you cut and serve.
Note: You can use your meat thermometer to take the temp to know it's ready! Just insert thermometer in the middle of the dish and if it reads 160 degrees it is done. This is an especially handy method to use when your casserole has been in the fridge cooling longer than a couple of hours.
Serving size: About 10-12 slices.