Tag Archives: Eggs

Breakfast Bolognese

“Could I have a donut and a hard-boiled egg for breakfast?” she asked.

The CSA share included a dozen eggs every week, and with only two of us in the house, we always had eggs around; we kept a half-dozen hard boiled for easy breakfasts. But friends have taken over the CSA share, and our egg supply gradually diminished.  I picked up a dozen after rehearsal.

I knew I forgot to do something when I got home: there were no hard-boiled eggs. There was, however, just about enough time. I put four eggs in a pan of water along with her magical egg timer, and set it to boil.  The eggs were cooked, but, at her departure time, too hot to carry.  I offered a pig-in-a-blanket left over from race-morning brunch, some grapes, and the requested donut. From her reaction, that was an even better choice.

Having scooped out the eggs and timer, I had a pot of just-off-the-boil water. I was just about to pour it down the drain when I remembered the last of a container of bolognese sauce in the fridge.  I liked the idea of conserving resources by re-using the hot water. I put the pot back on the still-warm-but-turned-off stove, salted the water, and poured in some dry pasta. I lidded the  pot, grabbed my keys, and the took the commuter to meet her train. Upon returning from the station, I found a pot of perfectly al dente pasta.

A friend of ours posted to Facebook recently that her son was sulking because he couldn’t have macaroni and cheese for breakfast.  I presume the issue was that there was no macaroni and cheese in the house, rather than some sort of parental concern that it would be an inappropriate breakfast food. I resisted the temptation to heat the sauce and have penne bolognese for breakfast, but only because I would have felt the need to tease our friend about her son’s breakfast request.

Of course, maybe I just did.

Confidence Gravy

“Do we have any gravy?”

That’s the sort of question you might dread, if the roast turned out to be more well-done than you’d intended.  But that wasn’t the case.  It was 10 PM on a Tuesday and she was in the shower.

“No,” I called back, “but I’m sure I can make some.”

“Right,” she said.  “Because you’re the kind of guy who makes gravy.”

Well, how else would one get gravy?  There are jarred versions sold in stores, I suppose. She had a jar in the City House kitchen for a long while, but I don’t remember what happened to it.

I’m sure I can make some.

I wasn’t sure at all, in fact.  After Sunday’s Chicken Debacle, I wasn’t at all confident about my ability to make toast, much less gravy.  It got me thinking. Gravy was routinely on the dinner table when I was growing up. But somewhere along the line tastes changed, or at least styles of eating did. We have sushi, ratatouille, and sandwiches-on-the-go, but gravy doesn’t happen all the time.  My grandmother and mother could have made gravy without thinking twice about it, but we get it from the supermarket.

Or not.

While Sunday’s chicken was in the oven, I’d cooked the neck and giblets into a saucepan with a cup or two of water, discarded the neck, chopped the giblets and put them aside. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but it had seemed like the right thing to do.  Once the chicken finally came out of the oven, I reserved and de-fatted the drippings from the roasting pan.  I didn’t dare try to use them at the time; I was happy enough to have food on the table without the possibility of botching a condiment. But it meant that, on Tuesday night, I had in the fridge a ramekin of rich chicken bits and a container of homemade stock. I was most of the way to gravy.

I just had to look up what to do with it.  Something thickens gravy–a roux?  A–what’s that word–a slurry?  Right, that’s it.  (The internet was faster than a cookbook.)

I sautéed some chopped mushrooms in a little olive oil (because: why not?), added the diced giblets to reheat, added most of the stock and brought it to boil. I barely warmed the last quarter-cup of stock and put it into a Mason jar with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, lidded the jar, and shook it ’til there were no lumps. I added the slurry to the saucepan and whisked.  And magic occurred.  Well, not magic, but gravy. Silky-looking chicken gravy.

In pajamas after her shower, she came to the kitchen to scramble the eggs that would accompany the grits she wanted for her late supper.

“You made gravy!”

I might have grinned a little. “Where would you like it?”

“Oh,” she said. “I was thinking over some of the roasted vegetables for lunch tomorrow.”

Well, of course.  Who puts gravy on scrambled eggs?

Actually, that sounded kind of wonderful.

I put a little egg-and-grits in a tiny bowl, spooned a little gravy over it, and took a taste. It wasn’t the umami-bomb of store-bought, but gentler—not too salty, studded with bits of mushroom and giblets and flecked with a little black pepper. It tasted like home.

I’ll probably screw up dinner again at some point, probably badly enough that we end up ordering pizza.  But tonight, there was gravy.  I’d like to think Mom and Grandma would be proud.  Or maybe they’d just shake their heads and say, “He had to look that up?”


Epilogue: “I don’t need anything for lunch,” she said this morning. “I’ve got things in the office fridge from yesterday.”

The Best Medicine and the Bedtime Snack

It was another late evening.  She’d had an unexpected hour-long interruption in her workday, which meant rescheduling a tech-support appointment and taking a much later train.  Worse still, the support was unsupportive; and, worse than that, the lack of support came from a company known for products that don’t need support because they just work. 

She stood at the refrigerator, displaying classic signs of a terrible trifecta: tired, hungry, and indecisive.

“Eggs and grits?” I asked.

“You don’t have to make me dinner.”

No, but I could start the process, and that might help.  I took the jar of grits from its shelf; she brought the eggs from the refrigerator and took over. I looked for something that would make us both laugh. (My day hadn’t gone so badly, except for a frustrating recording session in which I proved less-than-able to sing on pitch; in any event, no day is so good that it can’t be improved by laughter.)

“Could we have more episodes of the game show?”

I had something else in mind, a segment I’d read about from a comedy news show. A segment about Ayn Rand, of all things.  She wasn’t sure it would be funny. I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, but I know we both like this show’s smart writing and delivery.  She gave me a crash course in objectivism as we took our bowls upstairs (my eggs topped with a dab of her well-traveled salsa). One video led to another, and unhappy hours were forgotten.

Some days end with ice cream and poetry; some, with scrambled eggs and late-night TV.  Sometimes, we don’t want a snack at all. When the day’s cares are set aside, dreams are all the sweeter.

To Be or Not to Bibimbap

She likes rice.  A lot.  A bowl of rice with butter, salt, and pepper would be a perfectly acceptable dinner for her any night of the week.  I like it well enough, though I prefer mine as an accompaniment to vegetables and protein, or at least custard-ed up and baked into pudding. Still, we haven’t had any in a while, so I made a batch and plated some up with a pork chop and some green beans, covered the plate with plastic wrap, and left it for her in the refrigerator.  Having two choir rehearsals scheduled with a little break between, I packed yogurt and fruit for me.

Maybe it was the second choir rehearsal that did it; maybe it was the quite-fast run I’d gone on earlier in the day, or the run and two walks I’d taken on Wednesday; maybe lunch had been insubstantial, or the fact that I’d forgotten the granola that usually accompanies the yogurt and fruit. Whatever it was, it was 10 PM and I was hungry.

And there was rice in the fridge.

Bibimbap.

It’s a traditional Korean dish: a bowl of rice, protein, pickled vegetables, and a fried egg on top. If you’re a purist, bibimbap is made by adding rice to a very hot stone dish.  I am not a purist.  Especially not at 10 PM. I shredded some carrot, chopped some parsley and dill pickle (kimchi is traditional, but not something I keep on hand), and microwaved a bowl of rice while frying an egg whose runny yolk would, along with a drizzle of soy, a couple drops of sesame oil and sriracha, become an intensely flavorful sauce.

It surely isn’t as simple as a bowl of rice with butter, salt, and pepper, but it was maybe six minutes from idea to first bite.   I had my late semi-simple supper with a glass of ginger ale, and a conversation about a lunch we’d had, maybe five years ago, at a Korean restaurant down the block from her office—long, long before it occurred to either of us that we might one day be sharing the Country House.

I can’t remember having bibimbap since that lunch, but it won’t be five years before I have it again.

In slightly more than the time it takes to fry an egg, a few scruffy vegetables and some leftover rice can become this.

In slightly more than the time it takes to fry an egg, a few scruffy vegetables and some leftover rice can become this.

Very French, or Nearly So

There was no dinner at the country house last night; we’d gone over the river and through the woods to have lunch with her beloved Nana, and to deliver furniture to a refinishing shop. We stopped for gas on the way home at a dairy store where she worked during college breaks. Dinner, such as it was, was a double-scoop cone for each of us. 

Brunch today, however, was another matter. Open-faced tomato and mozzarella sandwiches on really good bread, sliced hard-cooked eggs over lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette, and an apple-cider donut, sliced and grilled. She had a wide-brimmed mug of sweet, light tea; I had coffee. I discovered that a beach umbrella fit perfectly into the table on the deck and provided just enough shade.  It might not seemed authentic to a Parisian, but brunch on this late August Saturday felt very much like I remember simple meals at homes in the south of France on a trip long ago.

She broke off a big piece of romaine, wrapped half a of a mustardy hard-boiled egg in it, and mmmmmmdd contentedly after taking a bite. “When you serve meals like this, I don’t want them to end,” she said. “I can’t decide what I want the last bite to be.”

That’s compliment enough for any cook.

Some days you grab a bagel on the way out the door. When there's time for a proper breakfast, you take it.

Some days you barely grab a bagel on the way out the door. When there’s time for a proper breakfast, you take it.