Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Day 1: Scrambled Eggs

I almost skipped this one. Way to get off to a good start, right? But who doesn't know how to scramble an egg? I've been doing it for a couple of decades off and on, and I think I've got the hang of it.

As fate would have it, my wife was feeling a little under the weather just as I finished the first chapter of Dummies (which is mostly: This is a sink. This is a stove. Say hello. Don't hurt anyone.), and she asked me if I could put something together for dinner. Knowing my cooking prowess, she said "Maybe just some scrambled eggs or something?"

It was a sign.

So I ran to get the book and followed the recipe. For scrambled eggs. What a dork. She actually said that.

Basically scrambled eggs goes like this: Heat butter in a pan, crack some eggs, stir them up, and drag a spatula back and forth. Enjoy. Done it a million times? Me too.

But not exactly. The recipe in Dummies says (for 8 eggs) add a quarter cup of water, half and half, or whole milk. I've always heard that you should put water in scrambled eggs, and I always wondered why it didn't just water it down. Apparently, the water makes the egg mixture froth up just a bit and makes them fluffier and cook up a little more. Good to know.

The book was paying off already.

Adding milk or half and half is supposed to make the eggs a little denser and, well, creamier. I've used water before (following someone else's advice without knowing why. A specialty of mine.), so this time I decided to go with half and half (we didn't have any whole milk around).

Turns out we didn't have any half and half either, but we did have some heavy cream (apparently the same thing as whipping cream: the book has almost paid for itself by now). So I did a roughly 50-50 mix of the cream and the lowfat milk from the fridge, and made my own half and half.

I put the eggs in a bowl, and beat it lightly with the half and half. Just enough to make a consistent mix.

Then, I put 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan (the book said to use a 10 inch pan, but I don't think we have one, so I used a 12 inch "saut̩ pan" РI had to look that up in the book too. It's basically a big pan with deep sides) and melted it over medium heat. When it was melted I poured in the egg mixture and started to cook.

Now, I'm the type of person who would like to believe in a higher power. That somehow, following these official instructions just right (or nearly just right) would somehow turn plain old scrambled eggs into something much better. As I was cooking, though, they I just couldn't bring myself to believe it. They looked just like plain old scrambled eggs. Look at the "recipe." No secret formula or chef's trick hidden in there. Oh well, lesson learned. There's no such thing as magic.

I tried the eggs when they were ready, and they were good. Actually much better than my usual eggs. Probably a result of the cream and milk (they were richer than I usually make). Obvious, perhaps, but maybe it really is the "right" way just because it was in a book. Maybe a little bit of magic?

My wife asked for a little bit of cheese and tomatoes with hers. We didn't have any regular tomatoes, so I sliced up some large-ish cherry tomatoes while the eggs were cooking, just in case you though those were hot peppers or something. Breakfast for dinner. She was actually impressed with the results.

She still thinks I'm a dork, though.

Basic Scrambled Eggs:

8 Eggs
1/4 cup of water, milk, or half and half
2 Tablespoons butter

Mix the eggs and water/milk/half and half until it's a consistent mixture.
Melt the butter in a 10 inch pan (or 12 inch sauté pan) over medium heat.
Pour in the egg mixture.
When the eggs start to thicken, drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan repeatedly, scraping the eggs off the bottom as the firm up. Cook them until they're as dry as you like.

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