The Episode of the Exploding Egg

My 13-year old daughter began 8th grade at our local Middle School this morning.  As a stay-at-home mom, the first day of school each year brings a set of contrasting emotions. I love summer and the freedom from a rigid schedule.  On the other hand,  I am always ready for the comfort of routine that returns each fall with the start of school.  I also find contentment each morning, helping my family prepare for their day.  As the car pulled out of the driveway at 7:35 a.m., I headed into the kitchen for a bite of breakfast to eat while watching the 7-minute local news update that comes on a little before 8 a.m., the extent of my TV watching for the morning.

I am not a morning person, so the idea of actually cooking anything before 9 a.m. is too much for my mind to handle.  However, I recalled seeing an “egg in a mug” recipe on Pinterest, the motherboard of  ideas. A quick Pinterest search revealed several microwave-your-egg-in-a-mug recipes. I decided to try a poached egg recipe which the pinner described as “works like a charm”.   Hey, no oil and no frying pan sounds good to me!  One minute later I had that egg in a water-filled mug in the microwave, cooking for 75 seconds, exactly as described on Pinterest. I even had time to make a piece of toast while the egg was poaching.

???????????????????????????????As I headed to the fridge for some grapes to top off this impressively fast and healthy breakfast, I heard a loud and disconcerting explosion sound come from the microwave.  My first glance revealed water running out the microwave door unto the counter below.  That couldn’t be good. Grabbing a paper towel to stop the flow of the water, I opened the microwave with my other hand.  My egg was still there – everywhere.  Half-cooked egg  was dripping down every wall of the microwave.  The yolk sat in a puddle of milky water on my microwave tray.  And the mug?  It was nearly empty, save for a meager dripping of water left on the bottom.

As I proceeded to clean up the mess, my toast grew cold and I missed my 7 minutes of morning news.  I considered giving up and having a bowl of cereal and milk, my least favorite morning meal. What ever happened to the “works like a charm” or “doesn’t get easier than this” phrases that had described this recipe?  What about that perfect Pinterest picture of what it was supposed to look like?

Not to be deterred by the pile of soppy egg-yolk-covered paper towels on my counter, I decided to try again. I grabbed Egg #2, put a little less water in the mug, covered it with plastic wrap for protection against another disaster, and microwaved the mug in smaller time increments. Guess what – it worked!  Adding a touch of ground pepper, a slice of buttered toast and a few grapes gave me the perfect breakfast for the start of this new day and new year.

???????????????????????????????My exploding egg episode reminds me of another lesson I need to continually remember. Life does not often look like the picture we have in our minds.  The day-to-day unfolding of  our lives does not usually fit the description of “perfect” or “charming” we had imagined. And sometimes, life is just a mess.  So what do we do?  We pull ourselves together, we clean up what we can, we ask God for help, and we try again.  And again. We learn from our mistakes and we start each new day with hope.  So if today you find yourself with an unplanned problem on your hands, don’t give up.  Try again. And again.  You will be glad you did.

 

 

The Real Dirt about Real Food

???????????????????????????????I  came into the house tonight after spending a beautiful Ohio summer evening in my garden. I am a novice gardener to say the least.  In this my third year of  suburban backyard gardening, I have added potatoes, onions and cucumbers into the mix. Today I harvested most of my potatoes and onions, along with a second round of rhubarb.  I also planted carrots for a fall crop that I hope to successfully store through the winter months.  And I just finished blanching and freezing a pound of green beans picked this evening as well.

???????????????????????????????My garden time is also my think time. Playing in the dirt, feeling the warm sun and cool breeze as I weed, watching a small toad wiggle away from my green bean patch – these are relaxing to me in a way most other things are not.  As I worked in my garden, I realized how much I am being re-educated by both my garden experiences and  my Fresh Fork Market journey.  My perspective on food, where it comes from and what I should do with it, is changing – and for the better, I believe.

Most of us approach shopping for food like we shop for a new car.  We expect a new car to come exactly like it looks on the TV commercial or on the car lot – in the color we like, with the power we desire, and sporting all the specific bells and whistles we have in mind. We want guarantees on the performance of the car, the maintenance of the car, the gas mileage of the car.  And when the car dealer hands over the keys to this car, it most likely will look and perform exactly like all the other cars of this make and model.  Not much risk involved in the transaction.

We often go to the grocery store with the same mentality.  We want our food to look exactly like it looks on TV or in the newspaper ad – in the color we like, with the flavor we like, and sporting all the excitement of a gourmet restaurant.  We want guarantees on the flavor of the food, the performance of the food, the longevity of the food.  We want pretty food in safe plastic-wrapped packaging so our hands don’t get dirty. We want shiny food, glossy produce, shelf-stable breakfasts and long-lasting canned soups.  We don’t want  risk.

???????????????????????????????We have lost sight of what real food looks like and tastes like.  We have forgotten what it takes to make the food we feed our families every day. Real food often comes with dirt on it. Or a few tiny blotches from sitting on the ground for a bit. Or some funny wrinkles from a few days in the hot sun. Sometimes real food isn’t ready right when we want it because of weather issues. Real food isn’t usually shiny and it certainly does not come plastic-wrapped so we don’t get our hands dirty. Real food comes with risk. But real food comes with so much more.

???????????????????????????????Real food brings us back to the freshest of flavors and the boldest of colors. Real food, fresh food, contains the most valuable nutrients in their most productive state. Real food leaves behind the plastic and cans and brings instead  fresh peels and living seeds for the compost pile or next year’s garden.  Real food begs to be eaten soon and rewards us with the best taste.  Real food teaches us a little bit more about what it takes to produce the healthy, natural food we want to feed our families.

I am growing to love brushing the dirt off potatoes and onions from my garden.  Right now my cucumbers are looking a bit prickly and crooked, but I still can’t wait to slice one up in a salad sometime soon.  Real food, real flavor, and real fun!

 

Fresh Fork Market Week 10

???????????????????????????????  Week 10 of my Fresh Fork Market summer and I’m not even halfway through – that’s exciting! As the seasonal crops transition into mid-summer fare,  I am enjoying the change of flavors and opportunity to move into different categories of recipes. This week’s FFM bag included candy onions, tomatoes, 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, blackberries, Early Gold apples, Italian sausage, fresh basil, and the best-tasting cantaloupe I have had in a long time.

???????????????????????????????Since I was out of town last week and did not pick up my bag,  I used the credits to pick up some additional items for this week.  More Early Gold apples were my first choice – we are ready to bite into a fresh-picked crisp eating apple!  Cherry tomatoes and fresh blueberries were added next, along with some delicious granola for breakfast.  My daughter begged for the ground beef for cheeseburgers – again.  And I threw in the kielbasa for a quick meal later in the week.   So much color and flavor came home with me, I feel inspired to be creative and maximize the nutrition of these foods in my cooking this week.

Fresh blueberries at our house can mean only one thing:  Blueberry Cream Pie.  When my husband and I were married 27 years ago, we enjoyed some delicious meals on our honeymoon.  But our absolute favorite was a blueberry cream pie.  In fact, we had it for dessert several times.  For a few years I searched through magazines and cookbooks hoping to find a similar recipe. (Remember, this was before Pinterest!)  Finally I found a recipe that looked promising.  After our first bite of this pie, we knew we had found what we were looking for.  In fact, we actually like this recipe better than the original pie.   Now it is a staple at our house in blueberry season and even occasionally in the middle of winter if I thaw some frozen blueberries.   Here’s the recipe for Blueberry Cream Pie as it appeared in Country Magazine, 1995:

  • ??????????????????????????????? 1 cup sour cream
  •  2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen are OK, but do not thaw; may need to bake slightly longer)

Beat the first six ingredients for 5 minutes or until smooth.  Fold in blueberries. Pour mixture into unbaked 9″ pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.  Sprinkle the following topping on the pie:

  • 3 Tbsp. flour.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped pecans

Combine these 3 ingredients to form a soft crumb topping.  Bake for 10 more minutes. Chill before serving.  Delicious!

Fresh Fork Market is hosting their next canning event on Saturday, August 16th.  It’s all about tomatoes-canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.  It’s not too late to sign up.  Check out the Fresh Fork Market Canning Club on Facebook.  It’s sure to be a good time!