Where are we going again?
The Handbasket » Posts in 'food' category

Making Do – A Story About Mom Click Here To Comment!

I am about eight years old and in need, in my mind, of an after school snack. My favourite, which I can manage on my own, is melted cheddar cheese on white bread. I just slice cheese, put it on bread, and pop it in the toaster oven. No sweat.

I have to manage on my own. There are a total of 12 people in this huge house. Mom is busy.

I’ve been thinking of this cheese snack for a while on the bus. Eagerly, I go the fridge and look at the place where cheese is kept. There is a sliver of cheddar, about two bites of cheese. No where near enough, in my mind, to manufacture my snack. Tomorrow is grocery day so this is it. I hold in my small hand the full inventory of cheese in the house.

I … lose it. This doesn’t happen often but on this particular day, I lose it. What does this look like? I’m not sure but I think I’m pretty loud. There are tears. Clearly, I’m old enough to not hurt myself with a knife or a hot toaster oven, but not old enough to get it together in the face of nutritional disappointment.

Mom appears, bustling. I’m standing with the fridge door open, holding this pathetic excuse for cheese, wailing.

Assessing the situation, Mom takes me over to the kitchen table. No anger, some reassurance, no hugs or cuddles. This is a teaching moment.

She sits at the table with two bread slices in front of her, I kneel on a chair seat, elbows on the table, to watch. I’m completely skeptical that anything good can come of this, but I’ve stopped crying.

Wordlessly, with precision and patience, Mom slices the cheese in matchstick-like slivers, producing more slivers than I would have thought possible. Then she arranges them on the bread in such a way that most of the bread real estate is covered, or it will be when the cheese melts. Moments later, I have perfect cheese toast in front of me.

I’m stunned and a bit ashamed to have made a fuss. I’m only eight but the impact of what just happened resonates deeply.

True, sometimes there is no “cheese” at all and moving forward, finding success or contentment, is hard. Disappointment is hard.

Mom taught me to step beyond the disappointment and ask a different question: What have we got to hand and what can we do with it? So often, in my life, creating a work-around has led me to a better place than my original plan would have.

I’m so grateful she was the person she was. No nonsense, pragmatic, fun. Missing her always.

Oyster Stew Click Here To Comment!

Ad for Campbell's Frozen Oyster Stew, circa 1961

Ad for Campbell’s Frozen Oyster Stew, circa 1961

My Mom used to buy Campbell’s Frozen Oyster Stew for us to share at lunch. She didn’t do this often but it was a huge treat when she did. This buttery, creamy, slurpy soup with those funny rubbery fishy bits … I loved it.

This is really an odd sort of choice for my land-locked, Southern Ontario farming Mom. I wonder how she got “hooked” on this soup? Why not, if it is going to be a fishy stew, the more popular and known clam chowder?

Anyway –  I quickly learned to love it too, at a relatively young age. And I do crave it from time to time. It hasn’t been available for years, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t know the first thing about trying to make it from scratch. The only oysters I know of are expensive appetizers in upscale restaurants in Toronto. I suppose there are tinned oysters but I can’t imagine putting them in a soup.

I woke up with this soup on my mind and, alas, had none available. I did have granola, Greek yogurt and a fresh peach so I made do with that.

Granola, yogurt, peach and coffee. An oyster stew substitute?

Granola, yogurt, peach and coffee. An oyster stew substitute?

Can I Eat These? Click Here To Comment!

Mysterious Objects

Mysterious Objects

So Knotty Girl is away, and the kids are at their Dad’s. Thus, I’m “home alone” for a few days, writing, re-arranging furniture, weeding and generally trying to stay out of trouble.
I was feeling “afternoon snackish”, what with my meals being a bit out of sync. I went rummaging through the kitchen. I found these mysterious spherical objects. I sniffed them. They smell very nice, a bit like a visit to the Body Shop or Lush. What are they? Are they decorative? An olfactory enhancement to room decor? They have a nice heft to them – perhaps they are primitive weapons of some kind? Or exercise equipment?

How Hard Can It Be? Click Here To Comment!

... where only the finest messes are made!

… where only the finest messes are made!

Knotty Girl gave me this coffee sign for Christmas, for the Coffee Corner. I think it looks great. This is not a terrific shot of the Coffee Corner, but you can see the coffeemaker and the really fancy burr grinder, hiding in beside the coffeemaker.

I drove “over the river” to get this coffeemaker at Target in Niagara Falls, NY. It makes a good cup of coffee. I like the thermal carafe, although it is drippy and hard to pour. It has a cool, retro, green glowy clock timer thingy that I don’t use.  When I take the time to clean it properly, it is shiny and nice to look at.

The coffeemaker has all the normal features of a basket style coffee maker. Basket to hold the filter, a place to pour the water.  Although it is shiny (or can be), and it looks like more than your average coffeemaker, it is really just a basic filter drip coffeemaker. Put water in one place, fresh ground coffee in another, press a button, wait, pour, enjoy!

How hard can it be?

The foundational paradox about successfully making coffee first thing in the morning is that one has not yet had any coffee prior to initating a series of seemingly complex tasks.  Let me list, from personal experience, in this very Coffee Corner, the multitude of ways in which the simple process of coffee making can go very, very wrong.

  1. Failing to open the resevoir flap on top before beginning to pour the water in.
  2. Removing the filter basket to empty old grinds but failing to put the filter basket back in. Oddly, the inside of the coffee maker looks the same to caffeine-free me with or without the filter basket. Sometimes, the filter just gets plonked down into the empty space and gets filled with fresh ground coffee. Once the button is pressed, all hell breaks loose.
  3. Failing to empty the thermal carafe of yesterday’s coffee before pressing the button. Yuck! I do love a thermal carafe vs. a glass carafe on a burner. But the visual of yesterday’s coffee is very, very useful at times.
  4. Using the carafe to pour the water in the resevoir vs. using something that can actually pour properly. This carafe is a drippy pouring disaster waiting to happen unless you can get it just so. Which I cannot, first thing in the a.m.
  5. Turning the grinder on without checking that the little cup that receives the ground coffee is properly seated in its place.  If Carly Simon were witness to this, she would sing about “clouds of my coffee” rather than “clouds in my coffee”.
  6. Doing anything, really, that involves me getting the fresh ground coffee bits from the grinder into the coffee maker. This is just too hard for me to do without spillage.

Charlotte is the self-appointed coffee monitor. She inspects the area carefully and has done up some “tickets” for me – with construction paper and coloured pencils – that I get when I make a mess. I’m not sure how much I’m in hock for the fines at this point. She has politely omitted discussion of what my punishments may be. She even often helps clean up, bless her.

Uh oh. I'm in trouble.

Uh oh. I’m in trouble.

Note to self: Learn to use the timer thingy.

An Ode to the MixMaster Click Here To Comment!

(In August, I read and immediately saved this Globe and Mail column, which I found delightful and nostalgic. It has inspired this post.)

I have a scar on my left index finger from when I was about nine. My mother asked me to set up the MixMaster in its customary position on the kitchen work table. The Sunbeam MixMaster, the workhorse of 1950’s kitchen small appliances, was rarely far from usage. But our farm kitchen didn’t have enough counterspace to have all the truly useful appliances out and available. So, with each use, the MixMaster had to be set up and, afterwards, put away.

Today’s design wizards would have safety switches and braking systems to make sure that a child wouldn’t ever plug in a MixMaster with the power turned on. With their hand resting casually on the beaters. However, the machines of the 1950’s and the kitchens of the 1970’s were not designed thusly. And so, in my first solo attempt to set up the sacred machine, my hand got caught in the beaters momentarily. It was pretty scary, at the time, but no harm was done. And I have this tiny scar, a MixMaster war wound.

That is my only bad memory of the Sunbeam MixMaster. That, and the horrid, electric-motor-burning smell it made at the end of its useable life. I was in Toronto by then, living on my own in my condo, loving using my Mom’s MixMaster to get my Christmas baking done.

RIP MixMaster

This photo was taken hours before it really gave up the ghost. This would have been 2008 and I put MixMaster’s birth date at about 1955. 53 years … not bad for a kitchen appliance.

Mom and I used that machine more than I can possibly describe. Endless batches of cookies, squares, bars, more cookies, fudge, candy … if it needed mixing, this was the machine to do it. Mom was pretty well known for her squares and cookies. Just recently, my cousin Steve has asked if I can make my Mom’s date squares. Perhaps no one can, Steve, without ye Olde MixMaster.

The MixMaster was also our mashed potato maker as it did operate as a very heavy hand mixer as well. Our family has a bit of a “thing” about mashed potatoes and I think the root/blame begins here, with the smooth operating MixMaster.

Mom baked endlessly before I came along, and carried on doing so long after I left the house, right up until her death in 1998.  I secured the MixMaster for my own use shortly thereafter and used it, although not as consistently or regularly, until it self-selected itself out of active duty.

The Sunbeam MixMaster operates, rather cleverly, through the design of the bowls and a tiny plastic button on the end of one of the special beaters. The button gently turns the bowl as part of the motion of the beaters. When the MixMaster was in my possession, I always worried about one of the bowls or the beaters getting broken or somehow malfunctioning. So, when I saw this at a yard sale, I snapped it up “for parts”.

The same, but not quite the same.

The “for parts” mixer sat in a box, wrapped in old towels, and almost forgotten, for about 10 years. It was moved around through my various interim abodes. It was part of my collection of stuff that I paid Good Money to store while my condo was under construction. It just sat around in a box, waiting. And then, one day, when I needed it, “for parts” was there, 100%, ready for action. It has been operational for about seven months now, and it has had a decent workout.

I could have gone on like this for a while. “For parts” was doing okay, shuttling from one counter to another between uses, bowls precariously teetering on the stand as the mixer would be moved about. Lately, “for parts” has started to make me nervous.  There is a little girl who likes to help. And this little girl has long hair and an intense curiosity about things that go “whirrrr”.  Also, the other day, when I threw together some cookies on a whim, it seemed to struggle a bit. So, when out on an unrelated retail mission, Knotty Girl and I spotted this on sale at 40% off.

Very shiny new Sports Car mixer.

This is too heavy to shuttle around so it has to stay put in one place. The bowl can’t break and the single beater is more shielded away from small hands and hair. And it has a very good motor in it. So far, it has done a lovely job on cookie dough and waffles. I will report back, closer to Christmas, on the date squares (Steve).

“For parts” is in semi-retirement, specializing now in mashed potatoes. Right over my (and Charlotte’s) head, above the workspace in the kitchen, is the original – Mom’s MixMaster – now in a place of honour beside the mixing bowl that also forms such a big part of my baking memories with Mom.

Beside the equally sacred mixing bowl that I’m terrified to break.

As things go, I think this is a pretty appropriate evolution, don’t you?

(Anyone taking bets on the longevity of the KitchenAid? 🙂 )

Of Eggs, Forks and Comfort 2 comments

I ate breakfast late today. I know I’m not supposed to do that, but … there it is. I had a big pub outing after hockey last night and just felt unable to introduce more protein until after noon. Today’s egg creation involved frying mushrooms, onions, red peppers and ham together and then dumping eggs beaten with many kinds of cheese and a few dashes of Worchestershire sauce on top, stirring until set. The WWBA and I call this “Scrambled Eggs with Stuff”. The radio was on as I was doing this and Stuart McLean was reading one of my favourite Dave and Morley stories, Holland, about when Dave and Morley met.  In that story, Morley made her version of “eggs with stuff” and they were not to Dave’s liking, nearly contributing to the end of their very young marriage.

Somehow, I’ve acquired two small kitchen whisks in the past number of years and I’ve started to use them, exclusively, for whipping eggs for “eggs with stuff”. That is what they are for, after all. Whisking things. Usually, I plop the eggs on top of some cottage cheese and maybe some romano, pelt the mixture with some Worchestershire sauce and get the whisk going. It sounds like it does on the cooking shows. Busy and thoroughly important, accented with high tinkly sounds of the metal strands hitting the glass. Today, however, I had a sudden aversion to making one more kitchen implement dirty for this task and, instead, used the fork that I’d already used to dish out the cottage cheese. My mother never had a whisk, after all, and this is how she whipped eggs for the pan. For that matter, this is how I did it until I got all cityfied and started using a whisk.

Beating eggs with a fork, in a glass mixing bowl, sounds totally and completely different than beating eggs with a whisk in a glass mixing bowl. I’d forgotten. There is a deep, gurgling, plopping sound caused by the fork lifting and dropping the mixture that is missing from the more treble sound of the whisk. There is still metal on glass, yet it sounds somehow more aggressive and forceful with a fork than with a whisk. It is, for me, a nostalgic sound, reminding me of my mother being both consciously instructive with me in the kitchen (“watch for egg shells in the mix, here, use a spoon to get that out.”) and unconsciously instructive as she tried to do as much as possible as quickly as possible. Scrambled eggs with stuff was fast, nutritious, cheap and tasty. Thus, also popular.

On a day like today, after a week like this week, the simple sound of eggs being whipped in a bowl to create “eggs with stuff” was profoundly grounding to me. A short plane ride away, a scene of unimaginable devastation is unfolding as a bottleneck of well-intentioned assistance sits, waiting to be deployed. It is gut-wrenching.

At work, the results of a mid-week strike vote have definitively answered precisely nothing, for anyone, on any side of the table.

As privileged and fortunate as my life is – and it is – I am aware that I am powerless in both of these situations. Once the donating and the voting is done, there is nothing I can directly and personally do to affect either of these outcomes. Sometimes I catch myself imagining jumping on a plane and taking control of the airport, directing the flow of traffic, or building quick on-the-spot teams for aid deployment. Or, bursting in on the negotiating teams with some new revelation that will solve all the threads of distrust and mis-information that have sprung up over years between management and the union. But, wistfully, I put those things away back when the day came to put away childish things.

So, I make eggs. And I remember that my good fortune springs not from my “stuff” or acquisition of “stuff”, but from all that I have learned and continue to learn, and all the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make. And I hope for the best. For everyone.

Tetrazini 3 comments

My mother had to feed 12 people three meals a day on a rather skimpy budget. When I think back on it, this was really quite a feat. Although I learned a lot from being in the kitchen with her, I wish I’d paid a little more attention to her creative resourcefulness in stretching her food budget, keeping food interesting/healthy, and not being wasteful.

It was a big deal for me, last Christmas, to feed eight people in my small abode. That one meal took a lot of planning, and I got a lot of it wrong. I had enough food for an army, as it turns out. An army considerably larger than eight. There were leftovers.

Mom was creative with leftovers, or whatever was at hand. Part of the trick was, of course, making sure that the right basic stuff was on hand. And, honestly, when feeding 12 people, casseroles made from opening a tin or two of this or that never did generate complaints. Therefore, one of the “must have” cooking ingredients was a supply of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

Food snobs poo-poo recipes that include the instruction “Open a tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup” as being well below acceptable standards of cuisine. On most days, I consider myself a bit of a food snob.* Except today. And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup on hand, just when I needed it.

Usually, Sunday dinner involved a large, roasted dead creature. My father, a Brit and a butcher/farmer by trade, would call any roasted dead creature “a joint” and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out why. Most popular beef roasts do not involve a part of the anatomy anywhere close to a joint. When the “joint” was not beef or pork, there would be poultry – either chicken (several) or a turkey, which was my favourite.

Turkey was my favourite primarily because turkey leftover options involved a few of my all time leftover favourites, all of which also involved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Something heavenly happens when you combine leftover turkey gravy with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. These favourites included:

– turkey a la king (creamed turkey with veggies, served on toast)
– turkey pot pie (my all time, bar none, favourite leftover meal – essentially, turkey a la king in pastry)
– turkey tetrazini (somehow different than creamed turkey on toast and I’m not sure why)

So, tonight, staring at a fridge filled with well-enjoyed, but nearly about to go off meat and veg, I embarked on a slightly more health conscious version of tetrazini, which I dubbed “Three Pork Tetrazini” or by its Swedish name “Pork Pork Pork!!”

First, I had to go to the general store to fetch the requisite tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. I spotted a coyote on the way back from the store. I am, truly, where the wild things are.

But, I digress … the rest went as follows:

1. Boil water for whole wheat pasta of choice. Prepare to desired doneness. Drain.

2. While the pasta is doing its thing, chop four slices of bacon into one inch squares and toss in fry pan @ medium-high. Follow this with:
– garlic
– chopped onion
– chopped peppers
– mushrooms (lotsa mushrooms)

3. Stir the fry pan mixture around a lot. If bacon isn’t providing enough grease, add oil of choice – either butter or olive oil will do.

4. Pour glass of wine. 🙂

5. When the bacon is looking almost done, add chopped leftover pork loin and chopped lean ham. Keep stir frying.

6. For heaven’s sake, don’t over cook the pasta!!!

7. Add several handfuls of baby spinach carefully picked over for mushy leaves and those weird skinny non-spinach leaves that always seem to sneak in. Keep stirring this up.

8. When the spinach has “melted” and incorporated into the mixture, add the tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Stir to blend in and let heat through.

9. This recipe has both BACON and tinned pseudo-food. DO NOT add more salt at any time. That is just silly.

10. While the soup heats through and blends in, grate some old cheddar. Sprinkle that on top and stir until incorporated. The whole mix may take on a brownish tinge. This is desireable.

11. Add the drained pasta (hope you started with a big enough pan!) and keep folding until the pasta is fully covered in the sauce.

12. Pour another glass of wine. Serve.

The observant amongst my readers will note that this recipe does not have to be made with pork or, indeed, any dead creatures at all. Any combination of stuff stir-fried in garlic and oil, coated in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and glued together with old cheddar and served over pasta is going to be pretty yummy.

And it was. 🙂 AND … if you serve it with enough wine and call it “tetrazini”, your guests may just believe you!

*I was called a “coffee snob” the other day. I can’t imagine why. 😉

Curses … My Cunning Little Plan … Foiled! Click Here To Comment!

So, here I am up at this cottage. For about 10 days in a row, eight of them on my own entirely. Well, except for the sweet, elderly/ailing and lonely neighbour who wanted me to come to “the hall” with her tonight and play euchre. And the bears. And the fish.

I had this idea that I wanted to bring everything with me in one go so I wouldn’t have to make any trips into Lakefield, this nearest town of any size. This includes food, of course.

In the back of my mind, I thought – this is it. My diet is going to veer entirely and utterly off the rails now. I stocked up with everything I shouldn’t have. Mostly carbs. Potatoes. Pasta. Rice. English muffins from St. John’s Bakery. Kraft dinner. Popcorn. Chips. Pancake mix.

And bacon.  And cheese.

AND – the cottage owner’s parents dropped by yesterday with freshly baked cookies and apple cake. (Free cottage AND freshly baked goods … how the universe does look after me when I ask … but I digress …)

I remember how I used to eat. Three substantial meals a day, mostly carbs. Grazing/snacking in between. Minimal fruits and vegetables.  Minimal physical movement. Here I am, in the perfect environment to return to my old self. There sure isn’t a lot to do up here, physically, and I’m virtually surrounded by carbs.

The thing is … I can’t do it. Not like I used to, anyway. I needed some exercise today and tried to get some by walking from this cottage to the main road, about a three kilometre round trip, I’d guess. I really enjoyed the walk to the main road and the tour of the general store but was thwarted on the return leg by the presence of one or more bears. I was scooped up by some cottagers who didn’t want it on their conscience that they saw bears and didn’t escort me safely back to my doorstep. My attempt at at least SOME activity … foiled …

But, in terms of eating … I just can’t do it like I did before. Sure, I’m having more carbs. But, somehow, a lot of vegetables snuck in and I’m eating those, too. So, the balance is different. But, the big thing is quantity and paying attention. I cooked for the cottage owner before she left – lamb chops on the bbq – and I made some yummy new potatoes. In my old frame of mind, there would be no leftover potatoes from the first meal. Now, there were enough to sautee for the following night’s dinner.

Also, my meal times are all off, so I’m just asking myself if I’m actually hungry. If the answer is no, I busy myself with something else for a while. Yesterday, I did something I’d been planning to do – made a big tray of nachos – yum! This was mid-afternoon and I enjoyed them while watching a movie. Filled me up entirely. I didn’t eat dinner and I had a few crackers and a bit of kohlbassa before bed. No more with the three huge meals, etc.

Today, I skipped breakfast (wasn’t hungry), tried to walk (see above) and then deeply and thoroughly enjoyed my extremely rare Kraft Dinner treat for lunch. (Did you know they have a three cheese version now? I’m not sure what that means since it looks like powder to me, but I digress yet again …) I mean, I really enjoyed it. Maybe my pseudo-bear encounter made me appreciate the pseudo-cheese more fully. Then … almost eight hours later … dinner, which was a salad. Spinach/arugula base, a layer of alfalfa sprouts, chopped peppers, a peach, tomato, thin sliced sweet onion and a dollop of cottage cheese. I topped it with sauteed ham and mushrooms, drizzled with light balsamic dressing. Mmmmmm … I’m totally full now.

I’m sure not going to lose weight out here. But maybe I won’t gain quite as much as I thought I would when I arrived.

Intense 3 comments

My March break is ending now, just as so many other people are starting theirs. It has been a pretty intense couple of weeks, actually, including the so-called “break” week. It didn’t feel much like a break to me, between stacks of grading, meetings, and quick turn-arounds on proposals and such. At least I managed to keep up with hockey and gym commitments.

Speaking of which, I was really pleased to learn my BMI has shifted considerably, even though my weight has not dropped since before Christmas. I’m actually okay with staying exactly the same for almost three months in a row. It proves that I can maintain a weight once reached. I have 21 more pounds to go to my target weight. Anyway, in terms of my BMI, I’m down three units of whatever-those-units-are since last time this was done, yet I believe my actual weight is close to the same. This means that fat tissue has been converted to muscle, which is very encouraging indeed.

So, in periods of intense and demanding activity like this, I have these little recurring mental motifs, like little pieces of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I’m going to take a few minutes to jot them down here so maybe they’ll stop bugging me. My life is about to get even more intense, so this may be my only chance for a while to be in a blogging kinda mode.

Where Did All These People Come From?

I’ve said this before, out loud, many times. It always takes me by surprise how many damn people there are in the world. How can I walk around downtown, through familiar streets, and not see a single person I know, and yet pass literally hundreds of faces? I just returned from a trip out to Brampton to watch a hockey game and there were still more strangers there!!! How is this possible??? I bet if I went to any one of the hundreds of small towns and cities across Canada to watch hockey games, THOSE arenas would be filled with still more people I’ve never seen!

Of course, I’m being facetious, sort of. It really does take me aback how we can float through our lives, essentially surrounded by strangers with whom we have no connection. Yet, we count on them not to drive across the yellow line in the road and hit us head on, to keep a civil tongue in their heads in public, and to fly planes that we trustingly board.

It is a little weird when you think about it.


Me’n’molasses go way back. On the farm where I grew up, there was a barrel of molasses sitting by the outside corner of the barn, near the entrance to the silo. It was used as an additive to the silage (corn stalks and field corn cobs and other materials left in the silo to “mature” as feed for the cattle) to aid its fermentation. But I loved to dip my fingers into the molasses as I walked by the barrel, if no one was looking. I just love the stuff.

My mom and I used to make popcorn balls as treats, especially around Hallowe’en. Our recipe involved boiling molasses, corn syrup and a dollop of vinegar until the medium ball candy stage. Then you pour the mixture over a bowl of popcorn, slather your hands with butter, stir the mixture around with your hands and then form popcorn balls. If you can keep yourself from eating the stuff, that is. Can you imagine? Two of my favourite things in one place – popcorn and molasses … HEAVEN! So much fun for kids to do, this recipe. I remember one year, grade seven or eight, I took popcorn balls to class for the Hallowe’en party. The teacher somehow dangled a row of single popcorn balls on strings from the ceiling. I think this was offered as an alternative to dunking for apples ~ we had to race to eat the popcorn balls, no hands. That was fun.

I haven’t had any molasses on my shelf for ages. This past Christmas, when I was doing all that baking, I saw a jar of blackstrap molasses at my new favourite bulk food store and it somehow fell into my cart. Molasses is an excellent source of a wide range of minerals, most especially iron and calcium. So, once or twice a week I’ve been enjoying a teaspoon or two as a treat. Yum.

I sense popcorn balls in my future.

Construction Zones Not Good For Tires

In order to get to the entrance to the underground garage for my building, you have to turn down one of two lanes. Each will take you by a construction zone.

In the past three months, I have had three “soft” tires, each turning out to have been punctured by a screw or a nail.

Hm. It is getting expensive to be living beside active construction projects. Add this to noisy and dusty and one could get quite irritated by it all. I am endeavouring to be zen about it rather than irritated. Four could send me over the edge, though.

Too Many Things

I still own too many things. I have felt strongly about this for a while now. I keep giving things away, or leaving them for others to use in the recycle room downstairs. Yet, I had a bout of consumerism this week, resulting in a new hockey bag for my gear, and three new small appliances in the kitchen. I couldn’t get the boxes and old appliances out of my place fast enough for my taste. It feels embarassing to feel like I “need” things like a griller with removable plates, or a slow cooker that I can actually clean properly. Yet, I crave pot roast. What’s a girl to do?

One of the tasks that I had hoped to do this March break, but did not get to due to the unforeseen intensity of the week, was a pass at removing yet another sweep of clothing from my closet and drawers. This kind of purge always feels wonderful, and it is easy for me to do as some stuff just doesn’t fit anymore. There is a clothing drop off for students this week at my college. They are looking for business type clothing that students can wear on job interviews. I hope I can get this done in time to drop some clothes off for this effort.

How To Poach An Egg (a.k.a. How To Get UnSettled In Your Ways) 2 comments

I have always been a good poacher of eggs. A properly poached egg is a thing of beauty. Fully set white, very runny yolk on buttered toast with salt and pepper. A perfect breakfast that seems decadent in its rich flavours and textures but is actually fairly healthy. (The butter won’t hurt ya, really …)

My former egg-poaching methodology involved any old pot with boiling water that has a dash of salt and a splash of white vinegar. (The vinegar helps the whites set without as many stringy bits.) I’d crack the eggs directly out of the shell into the water and then stand over them until the exact right moment, usually about two or three minutes. I also had an method of using a frying pan to boil the water, and now I see that is just WRONG. I remember my brother also enjoying poached eggs and using the heel of a loaf of bread to drain them first before transferring them to his toast. The heel would get tossed.

My ex says I make the best poached eggs. I have them most mornings for breakfast.

My friend Miriam and I talk about poached eggs a lot. She shares my love of the perfectly poached egg. Ever helpful, Miriam sent me a video a while back on how to poach an egg. This arose out of her disdain for the idea of putting a splash of vinegar into the water, which I do understand.

For weeks after I watched this video, my poached egg mojo was totally messed up. I couldn’t get it right as I was trying some combination of my old method and this new method and just getting it all wrong. After years of getting it mostly right, new information totally threw a monkey wrench into the works. The guy in the video leaves out some important pieces. How hot is the water when you start? Do you leave it covered or not? What do you mean, leave the egg in for TEN MINUTES???

Experimenting with this new method of doing something I know so well has taught me a lot. For example, the pot matters. If you are going to leave the eggs sitting in water, they have to be completely covered in water, and the pot needs to be heavy and able to hold heat for some time. My thin-walled small saucepan is a bust. My larger thick-walled saucepan rocks, but only if it has enough water in it to cover the eggs.

I have finally got it right.

How To Poach An Egg Perfectly Without Vinegar and Without Standing There And Staring At It and Fussing Over It

1. Select a heavy pot and put enough water in it to cover the eggs. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil.

2. Crack the eggs into a cup, carefully.

3. Put some bread in the toaster.

4. When the water is boiling, stir the water in a circle in any direction you care to.

5. Carefully drop the eggs in one motion into the centre of the vortex and immediately cover the pot. Turn the heat off. Set your timer for three minutes.

6. Whistle a happy tune. Maybe pour a cup of coffee.

7. When the timer goes off, butter the toast. The eggs need the last 30 seconds or so.

8. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon onto toast. Decorate with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!

One Perfectly Poached Egg

One Perfectly Poached Egg

Top of page / Subscribe to new Entries (RSS)