When I was young, one of my favorite books was Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel. It’s an unappreciated classic, written by the author of the Frog and Toad books. Owl at Home is the one and only Owl book Lobel gave us. Each story is precious and entertaining, hilarious and touching.
By far, my favorite story is Tear-Water Tea. In this story, Owl makes tear-water tea by thinking of things that are sad. He thinks of mashed potatoes gone cold and pencils that have become too small to be used. While he thinks of things that are sad, he begins to cry, thereby making tear-water tea. This is how I feel about cooking eggs.
I grew up hating eggs. My father, in a sincere attempt to please my mother by sharing in the task of cooking, took it upon himself to cook breakfast almost every morning. He is not much of a cook, and the one dish he could make was eggs. Almost every morning, he would cook eggs, and I didn’t like Dad’s eggs. They didn’t taste good. Yet, I was required to eat them. It became a battle of wills. I learned to hate eggs. Before I could have anything else to eat, I had to eat a small amount of eggs, maybe about 1/4 of a cup. It wasn’t much, but I remember choking down those 2-3 bites each time. To make it more bearable, I would really dump the salt on top. Can you imagine anything more gruesome than room temperature eggs (it took me awhile to be brave enough to take the bites), loaded with salt?
Finally, I had my moment of victory, and it was all because of a chocolate doughnut. Yes, a chocolate doughnut. It was one of those rare mornings when we had doughnuts for breakfast. However, as I mentioned, I was required to eat my eggs before I could have even one bit of doughnut. On a napkin next to my plate was a scrumptious, plump chocolate doughnut. Boy, did it look good.
I turned back to the foe on my plate, the 2-3 bites of eggs. I had loaded up the salt already. I decided to face the fear and get these eggs out of the way as soon as possible. I loaded the entire wretched thing onto my fork and attempted to shove it all into my mouth at once. I chewed and chewed. Then it came time to swallow. But the swallow didn’t happen. Instead, I wretched and the whole mess came back onto my plate. My father was furious. But, my mother spoke up and allowed me immediate access to my precious doughnut. After that day, I never had to eat eggs again.
And so I avoided eating eggs: no deviled eggs, no egg salad sandwiches, no quiche, no chicken salad if it had pieces of eggs in it. The only time I ate eggs was when it was mixed into baked goods. I wasn’t about to avoid eating cookies or cakes. I just didn’t want to know if it had eggs in it.
Then, one day, at the age of 30, I decided to eat eggs again. I was curious. I was reading Carnie Wilson’s book, Gut Feelings, and learned that after her gastric bypass surgery, she usually ate eggs with a little hot sauce for breakfast. Honestly, it’s a little difficult if you don’t eat eggs to find good things for breakfast. You can have cereal, breads, or pancakes/waffles, none of which is particularly filling or healthy. Next time you go to a restaurant for breakfast, notice how many choices center around eggs.
I began cooking eggs at home, just a little bit, and never very often. I then learned how to make omelettes from a friend. These were nice because you could add other things, allowing you to focus on other flavors. Plus, you mixed in the yolks, which are my least favorite part of the egg.
Then I fell in love, and egg making took on a whole other dimension. He made eggs like an art form. There was a ritual to it, a dance, a thing of beauty. The secret, he said, was in the pan used. For two people, he used five eggs, 2 whites and 3 wholes, and added a little cream and seasonings. The eggs had to keep moving. The end results were delicious and satisfying. We would eat the eggs on paper plates on barstools at the counter. The eggs would leave a few smudges of grease on the plates.
I learned how to make eggs this way, and they are so tasty and yummy. But it’s sad. He is no longer in my life, and when I make the eggs, there is sorrow and sweetness, pain and pleasure. Like owl’s tear-water tea, I think of things that are a little sad when I make these eggs.
Hugs that will never be given
Camping trips that will never be taken
Words that will never be spoken
Promises that will never be made
Sometimes, people come and go in our lives, but they leave legacies, like egg recipes. Like Lobel’s Owl, as I eat my eggs, I think about how good they are, even if the salt on top is from my tears.
Tear-Topped Egg Recipe
1. Heat a non-stick pan on the stove to medium heat
2. For two people, crack 5 eggs into a bowl, only use the whites of two of the eggs. (For one person, use 3 eggs, using one just white).
3. Add half and half or milk to the bowl, just a touch.
4. Add salt and pepper.
5. Use an egg beater to beat the eggs and other stuff together.
6. Once the pan is nice and hot, dump the whole bowl quickly into the center of the pan.
7. Immediately use a silicone or plastic spatula (you should not use metal on a non-stick pan) to begin pushing the eggs toward the center of the pan. The bottom of the eggs should easily scrape off the bottom. The middle should still be runny. Once you have pushed the eggs into the center several times, you should be able to flip the entire mess in one motion.
8. Cook the other side just a few minutes.
9. Turn off the pan, but leave it on the burner.
10. At this point, you can add cheese on top.
11. Remove pan from the burner.
12. Fold the eggs (it should be round) into half, making it look like a taco. The cheese melts good this way.13. Add tears if desired.
14. Use spatula to move onto plate and eat immediately.