Friday, August 10, 2007

"Eggs all gone, baby!"

I've been dissatisfied with a lot of our meals this week. The corn chowder and
Niçoise salad were a delight, but the rest of my nearly* vegetarian menu fell flat. The zucchini from Saturday's market were over mature and seedy, so the summer stew lacked the delicate sweetness that makes it so good. I'd also underestimated the amount of lemon juice needed to balance the olive oil in my wheat salad, so the entire meal was dull and uninspired. The falafel-stuffed pitas were pretty good --- after all, how wrong can you go with falafel? -- but the yogurt cucumber dressing was too garlicky and insufficiently dilly. By the time I got around to black bean and corn salad, the corn had lost it's sweetness and the cilantro was flavorless -- a dead loss.

Yesterday I was daunted and dis-spirited, but not utterly defeated, so I opted to go ahead and give the kids their long-anticipated blueberry pancake feast. They inhaled them, smothered as they were in butter and maple syrup, but I know the sorrowful truth -- half of them were pale and undercooked and the other half were spotty and scorched. Pancakes are simple but they do require that the pan is just the right temperature, and I couldn't find the sweet spot so to speak, so I was constantly adjusting the flame up and down. I used to think myself above such things as electric griddles, and I thought I had the touch for this stove but I know what my next kitchen purchase is going to be!

So, after a week of mediocre cooking I wasn't feeling up to anything more ambitious than a bowl of cereal, but naturally we were out of milk this morning. Despair. Then I remembered how easy and delicious is a pan of soft and buttery scrambled eggs. I had half a dozen jumbo, double yoked eggs from the Italian deli that were, of course, unsuitable for baking, and a few Tablespoons of half and half if I sacrificed my morning coffee. I wish I could say that one look at my hungry children's faces decided me, but I actually was leaning toward coffee for me and dry cereal for them when I spied a fresh pint of half and half -- of course! I'd just been to Trader Joes! We were in business.

I know most folks have their own favorite method for scrambling eggs, from high heat and fast scrambling to low heat and gentle turning, but I've also eaten some tough scrambled eggs in my time, so the following is for anyone whose scrambled eggs are tough and always seem to have that awful brown skin with it's attendant metallic taste:

Simple Scrambled Eggs for 4-6

Heat a 10" pan over low medium heat for several minutes.
Meanwhile, crack 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly with a pinch of salt, just to break up the yolks and mix in the salt.
Put 1T butter in the heated pan -- if it sizzles immediately and starts to brown, your pan is too hot -- the butter should take about a minute to melt, foam up, and subside.
Pour the lightly beaten eggs into the pan, and allow to set for a minute. Then, using a spatula, gently pull the eggs from the edge of the pan to the center, as though making an omelette. How frequently you pull will determine how big the 'curds' are -- I like 'em nice and big, so I pause for 30 seconds each time. I also gently flip them a few times while they're cooking.
When the eggs are almost done, but with a little bit still liquid, pour in 1-3 T of half and half (or milk, but half and half is better!) and gently mix and turn with the spatula until the eggs are done to your liking. My kids and I eat our eggs pretty soft, but I leave my husband's share on the heat for a minute or two longer -- he likes his a little on the dry side! The baby is especially fond of these, as you can see from the pouty face he made when I told him they were all gone!

* the
Niçoise salad had anchovies and tuna

dinner tonight: probably carry-out --- the eggs were good but I'm not pushing my luck!

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