Post #607 The Treasure Box

November 4, 2018 at 4:58 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Box Without Hinges, Key, or Lid

Yet Golden Treasure Inside is Hid

Some of you may remember this riddle from Tolkein’s masterpiece The Hobbit.  It’s part of the riddle challenge Bilbo Baggins undertook with the Gollum that eventually won Bilbo the ring of power.  The answer, of course, is the Egg.

So guess what today’s post is about?  But it’s not about cooking eggs.  It’s about kitchen hacks involving eggs.  I can say that I’ve tried all of these and they work.  They really do.  But let’s get the controversy out of the way first.  Eggs are loaded with cholesterol, but (and it’s a big but) it doesn’t impact human cholesterol adversely.  Having said that, independent studies from the major nutritional scientists have shown that eggs will have an impact on about 30% of the human population, but most of the time, the impact is either minimal, or beneficial.  So eating eggs is not going to hurt you, generally speaking.  However, if you’re worried, consult your doctor.  If you’ve already consulted that person, follow their advice, not mine.  Just sayin’.

Eggs are one of the most nutritional items on the planet.  There are very very few things that are better for you.  They are one of the few things that contain all the amino acids we need in the right combination.  And because of their nutritional density, eggs will make you feel fuller with smaller amounts than nearly any other food.  Speaking for me, two large eggs is way more than enough.  But most people can safely eat up to three large eggs per day safely without any ill effects.  Except that they ate 3+ eggs that day.

So here are my favorite kitchen hacks (shortcuts) for eggs:

microwave poaching – if you want a poached egg, but don’t want to trouble yourself with a pan of boiling water swirling in a clockwise manner, try a microwave.  It’s pretty easy, but can be finicky.  Microwaves tend to vary, so play around with timing and power strengths.  Take a microwave save bowl and break an egg into it.  Add a third cup of water, and a 1/2 tsp of vinegar.  Microwave for about 45 seconds and check the egg.  If it looks underdone, continue cooking in 20 bursts until it gets to a point that you like it.  Just bear in mind the microwave will cook the yolk faster than the whites, so if you want a runny yolk for whatever dish you’re making, the whites may not be fully set.  You can remove the egg with a slotted spoon so the water drains away.

how to tell if an egg is fresh – This is an old one.  I learned this at my mother’s knee, so to speak.  If you’re not certain if the eggs you have are okay, fill a glass that will hold an egg easily with room temp water.  Put the egg into carefully so the shell doesn’t crack.  If the egg sits on the bottom, it’s fresh.  If it raises to the top slowly, it’s a good egg.  If it raises to the top quickly, think long and hard before using it.  What’s happening is gas build up inside the shell causing buoyancy.  A fresh egg will not have any gas build up.  The older the egg, the more gas and the more buoyancy.

how to tell if eggs are cracked in the carton – When you buy eggs, I sincerely hope you’re looking inside the carton to see if any eggs are cracked.  However, did you know the bottoms can be cracked without you seeing it?  To find out, simply move each egg inside the carton.  If they move, there are no cracks.  If there are cracks, the egg will leak out, dry out, and cement the shell to the carton, whether it’s a paper carton or a Styrofoam carton.

best way to crack an egg – This one I got from Jacques Pepin, the renown chef from France.  He’s all about speed in the kitchen so he cracks eggs on the counter rather than against the bowl.  The reason for this is to avoid getting shells in the bowl with the egg (more on that later) and having to spend valuable time fishing it out.  So tap the shell gently but briskly against the counter and swiftly move it to the bowl and open it.  Since the force is blunt rather than sharp, the shells stay intact (usually) with the egg skin.  Nothing but the egg gets into the bowl.

best way to separate an egg – A corollary to the above is this way to separate egg white from egg yolks.  Carefully break the number of eggs you need into a bowl.  Try to keep the yolks intact.  Then carefully lift the yolk out of the egg whites using your impeccably clean hands with your fingers spread slightly.  Wait for all the egg whites to separate and move the yolk to another bowl.  Don’t throw them out unless you’re not going to use them in the next day or so, and don’t want to freeze them.  Don’t move your hand up and down since this could cause the yolk to move about and break in your hand.

how to get egg shells out of the egg – Now it’s inevitable that at some point in your life you will get some egg shell into your shelled eggs.  And dipping into the egg with your finger or an eating utensil just seems to push the shell around rather than capturing it.  But if you use a piece of the egg shell gently inserted into the egg, it will capture the stray shell like a magnet captures iron filings.

a use for the egg skin – Have you seen the egg skin?  It’s a protective barrier between the egg and the shell.  It allows oxygen to pass through the shell into the eggs itself.  Overtime, it loses its resiliency and the egg goes bad.  Really bad.  But once an egg has been cracked open, there’s no more uses for the skin.  Well, actually, there is one that I know of because my mom use it for me.  When I was about 13 or 14, we kids were playing hide and seek.  Mom had a cactus garden in the front yard separated by a line of large rocks.  I was running full tilt in the dark, unable to see much of anything and went ass over teakettle with a blinding pain in my right foot.  I’d tripped over a cholla cactus (pronounced choya) with such force I’d uprooted it and I went spinning out of control.  By the time, everything righted itself, I knew I was in trouble.  The pain had shot all the way up to my knee and I couldn’t move a step.  Somehow, we all managed to get me inside where my parents took over.  They stopped the bleeding, disinfected it, and bandaged it up.  I was off my feet for a week.  At the end of the week, the wound had not scabbed over, was still swollen, and angry red looking.  My mom didn’t think it was infected, but wanted to make sure there was no pus in it.  She broke open an egg and fried it up for my brother, then used a pin to carefully remove the skin.  While it was still wet, she placed it over the wound and smoothed it out.  It adhered to the skin, and as it dried, it shrank.  And as it shrank, it applied gentle pressure to the wound.  If there was any infection or pus, it would then be drawn out.  What actually came out were two cactus spines that no knew was there!  Once I pulled those out, my foot healed in a few days.

egg slicer hack – My last hack leads to one of my favorite sandwich spread recipes.  You can chop eggs with the slicer in a no muss no fuss way.  Most people know about this but I’ll explain it any way.  Slice the hard boiled egg normally, but into your cupped hand.  Use your cupped hand to hold the egg together and place it back into the egg slicer at a 90 degree angle from “normal”.  Slice into a bowl and the egg becomes perfectly and uniformly chopped.

So, for one of my favorite sandwich spreads, take three or four eggs and chop them into a bowl.  Add a half cup of chopped cooked chicken.  Add a half cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever your favorite highly flavored cheese is.)  Add a good amount of your favorite nut.  I’ve used sesame seed (about a tablespoonful), sunflower seed (about a 1/4 cup), chopped nut mix (about a 1/2 cup.)  Whatever floats your boat.  Mix it all together gently.  Add a tablespoon of yellow or brown prepared mustard, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise.  Add up to two tablespoons of dill pickle relish (NOT sweet relish) with the juice.  Gently mix it all together until it hold together.  Add more mayonnaise if needed.  Chill for an hour or so, the spread on bread, or crackers, or whatever, and eat!  So good.  Makes a good amount, but I’ve never measure exactly how much.

So what are your favorite kitchen hacks, or egg hacks, or life hacks?  Share with the rest of us, okay?

And as always,

 

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