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Bad Egg, Good Egg
I love hard-boiled eggs, and most generally have them in the refrigerator. I can eat them anytime as a snack, an appetizer, or the main entrée. I’ve even had them for dessert. I love hard-boiled eggs.
This morning, I ate the last boiled egg from the fridge while my oatmeal was cooking. Yum.
When I had finished breakfast, I put a pan of water on the stove and turned the burned on high. I set the remaining seven eggs from the carton into the water. I smiled, thinking about all the different ways people have for hard boiling eggs: Use fresh eggs, never use fresh eggs. Boil the water first, or, put them in cold water. Cover the pan with a lid, don’t cover the pan. Add vinegar; use salt, not vinegar. So many ways to boil an egg, and they’re all opinions.
How hard can it be? Put the eggs in water, boil them, peel them, and eat them. That’s it. But people have specific techniques. I suppose I can understand why; maybe there should be a recipe for hard-boiled eggs.
One hot summer day, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. We would have chef salads, but I forgot to hard boil the eggs. So, I called my daughter Annie who was about fifteen years old. “Can you boil eight eggs for me?”
“I don’t know how,” she replied. “Do you have a recipe?”
“Are you serious,” I questioned. Annie told me she had never boiled eggs. “Put eight eggs in a pan, fill it with water, about a half-inch or so over the eggs. Put the lid on the pan, put the pan on the burner, and turn it on high.” I told her to use the burner on the grill outdoors. It was hot outside, and I didn’t want the heat or humidity inside the house.
“How long do I boil them,” she asked?
“Just turn the burner on high, and I’ll take care of them when I get home.” I would be home in fifteen minutes which would be perfect. I noted the time, but as usual, I ran into someone I knew at the store and got home fifteen minutes late.
When I got home, a horrible stench came in through the kitchen window and was wafting through the house. It smelled like something rotten was burning. I worried the eggs may have boiled dry and ran out the back door. There was smoke pouring out the vents on the lid of the pan.
I quickly turned off the flame. I removed the lid with a hot pad, nearly gagging on the smell of black smoke billowing out of the pan. “What the heck?” I hollered, “Annie, get out here!” When she came outside, I showed her the charred disaster, “Why did you crack the eggs before putting them in the pan? You’re supposed to leave them IN the shells.”
“You didn’t say that,” she justified. “I put the eggs in the pan and added water covering them by a half-inch.”
I was perplexed. “Did you smell the eggs burning? Why didn’t you come out and shut the burner off?”
“You told me to turn the burner on high and just leave them alone,” she said. “I assumed you knew what you were talking about.” I couldn’t argue with her; she did exactly what I said to do, and I did fail to specify leaving the eggs in the shells. The pan was ruined. I threw the whole mess in the garbage can, got another pan, and boiled more eggs for our salads.
I laughed as I thought about that incident while my eggs were boiling. (Although I was not laughing when it happened.) We often remind Annie of the “Hard-Boiled Egg Incident.” She gets defensive every time, “I did exactly what Dad told me to do!”
Everyone has their technique for boiling eggs, claiming, “Do it my way, and the shells peel super easy – every time.” Right. The way I boil eggs works (almost) every time for me. But I find eggs have a mind of their own, and some are just plain stubborn!
When I cooled my eggs, the shells peeled real smoothly from the first six eggs; one egg’s shell stuck to a small piece of the egg white, leaving a small mark, but it was still plenty pretty to keep with the other eggs. The seventh egg? Not so smooth.
I couldn’t seem to get the membrane loose from the egg. Big chunks of egg white ripped away with the shell. The egg white was torn so badly that it exposed the egg yolk in several places. Most people would have chucked the bad egg into the trash – not me.
The battle was on; Man vs. Egg. I was determined to win, and I did. However, I’ll admit, when I claimed my victory, I was looking at one of the ugliest eggs I’d ever seen. The egg looked like I peeled it with a weed-whacker, a lawnmower, or maybe a hammer and chisel.
I looked at the seven eggs on the plate and remembered my elementary school assignment. “Which one of these doesn’t belong?” I had learned that lesson well.
The egg was way too hideous to put in the refrigerator with the other eggs. Some of that ugliness could rub off on the others. I mean, seriously, what if we had company and they went to the fridge for an egg? When they saw the pathetic resemblance of an egg, they would say, “This man can bake a wonderful pie, but he has no idea how to boil eggs.” Some would even claim, “I’ll bet his children can’t hard boil an egg either.”
To avoid bringing future shame onto my kin, I did the right thing - I got rid of the evidence. I ate that battle-scarred egg. As ragged as that egg was, it was actually quite tasty (with a bit of salt and pepper.)
I pondered the whole situation further. People and eggs have a lot in common. Most people are good eggs, but you’re going to run into a bad or stubborn egg once in a while.
When you come across a bad egg, give it the benefit of the doubt. If you take time to look beyond the outer appearance, even a bad egg can turn out to be a good egg – especially with a bit of seasoning.
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