Egg-cellent

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I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my culinary focus of the last few months has been learning how to fry an egg.

But I’m a lot proud to proclaim this egg-periment a success.

You see, I’d long been bothered by my inability to fry an egg. Or really, to flip an egg. I always accidentally broke the yolk, ending up with a hard egg. My perfect egg is “over medium,” with a yolk liquid enough to dip toast in, but with whites firm. (Read: not runny.)

That’s how my mom fries eggs. And every egg, every flip is nearly perfect. Sure, she’s had enough experience — fried eggs, along with sausage or bacon and pancakes or waffles, have been a staple of  breakfasts at my parents’ cabin in northern Michigan for 40 years. I can still picture her in front of the old narrow white stove, frying sp-egg-tacular egg after egg, which my brothers and I promptly destroyed. Our dad had taught us to dice our eggs, then coat the tiny pieces of whites with the liquid yolk. I can’t tell you how much this irritated my mother.

I’m not sure the sudden obsession with fried eggs last fall, but I became determined. My first challenge was figuring out which oil to use. My mother fries eggs in bacon grease, which she stores in a jar in the refrigerator. As much as I love bacon, this has always grossed me out. Since I’m spoiled, she fries mine in butter before the rest of the family’s. (A total win-win, in my book.) I first experimented with olive oil and coconut oil sprays; both left an off taste that didn’t complement the eggs, especially the coconut oil. Butter browned the eggs too much for my liking. The clear winner was clarified butter. Absent of milk solids, clarified butter (or ghee) turns to oil almost immediately and has a high smoke point — helpful when you keep the flame on your burner a little high like I tend to do.

Cooking in oil also helped me in the successful flipping of an egg. With the spray, the egg didn’t want to budge half the time. But with the oil, the spatula slides right under the egg, and over it goes. Nice and easy.

There was also a learning curve with figuring out how long to cook the egg once it’s been flipped. Like I said, I hate runny whites. I’ll confess that I overcooked a few, although never to the point that the yolk was hard. My mom told me just today that she turns off the burner as soon as she flips the egg. Question: Why in the heck didn’t I talk to her about this months ago?

DSC00037Needless to say, I now have a fried egg for breakfast nearly every day. Some days, it’s an egg with a slice of wheat toast. Lately, it’s been a “California benedict”: an ounce of avocado mashed onto half an English muffin, topped with muenster cheese, and finished with one glorious, perfectly fried egg.

I know what you’re thinking … egg-cellent. And you’re right.

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Have veggies, will travel

I’m spending a few days at my parents’ home in northern Michigan. Rather than let the vegetables from last week’s CSA share rot in the refrigerator, I packed them in a cooler and took them with me.

I can’t say they received all that warm of a welcome. My mom likes to plan meals when the whole family is up to the lake, and my bok choy, turnips, photo copysnowpeas and the like didn’t really fit in. (She did use my radishes in her tuna macaroni salad and the leaf lettuce to dress grilled hamburgers. And I added onions to one morning’s scrambled eggs.)

But tonight, my final night here, I had no choice but cook everything else I brought or haul it back home. And that simply wasn’t going to happen.

My dad fried bass and pike he caught on Lake St. Helen — a family tradition. My mom broke out baked beans, along with her macaroni salad. I roasted the turnips and kohlrabi in vegetable oil, since I couldn’t find any olive oil in the house. Surprisingly, they went over well, much better than the bok choy, Asian greens, snow peas, garlic scapes and broccoli I sautéed in butter. (Again, no olive oil.)

p.s. Enjoy the view I’ve had this week!

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Photo by Bailey Smith

Welcome!

I often call my mom when I’m making dinner, a habit from years ago when I was fresh on my own in the adult world. She’s an excellent cook, and in those pre-Google days, it was easier to pick up the phone than thumb through a cookbook to find out how long to bake a chicken breast, boil an egg or, as my dad often joked when he answered, toast bread. (Seriously, though, I wasn’t that incompetent.)

Over the years, I learned my way around the kitchen — and developed my own love of cooking. But those phone calls continued.

By the time I met my husband, Mike, I had ventured into recipes much different than those of my childhood. This concerned my mother to no end. Suddenly, our conversations revolved around what my then-boyfriend thought of eating meals involving off-the-wall ingredients like artichokes and quinoa. “Does Mike like that?” she’d ask time and again. I could sense the scowl on her face, the same one I saw when I introduced her to goat cheese.

“He eats what I make!” I finally barked into the phone.

And honestly, Mike does exactly that — happily, I might add. Luckily for me, he was blessed with an adventurous palate, a stomach of steel and, when worst comes to worst, a love of Sriracha that borders on addiction.

Now that you know the story behind this turn of phrase-turned-blog, welcome. I hope you’ll be back often for my reflections on how food nourishes life, and love.