I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Friday, June 14, 2013

The Perfect Soft, Medium or Hard Boiled Egg

I was asked to post a blog on the perfect boiled egg.

Of course boiling eggs are easy, but getting it soft, medium or hard boiled takes a timer and getting the egg to peel into a smooth oval shape without pieces missing has a few secrets. ;0) So, here are my tricks or secrets that I have figured out through trial and error over my years of cooking.

*Note the best way to get your desired eggs exact, is to experiment with a timer yourself. Take one hour out of a day to play with eggs. It will be just you, your sauce pan, water, vinegar, a timer, and your choice of egg (size, brand, fresh, organic, free-range, or regular grocery store variety). I decided to take a morning and play; I used three timers set one minute apart (using one timer twice). I took the cooked egg out of the pan and  put it under cold running water while peeling it within one minute of the next one being done (that way the cooking stopped and I didn't have a cold egg, which putting it on ice would give you). I cooked each fresh brown cage free organic large egg 2, 3, 4, and 5 minutes on my gas top stove.

A closer view shows the two minute egg on top is runny, and progressively gets more solid up to 5 minutes (the bottom sliced egg).

~And again, 1 minute apart spacing, this time I took the large eggs out at 1, 2, and 3 minutes:
Close up of one minute, two minute and three minutes from start of boil (turn off heat let sit one minute, or two, or three).
Large eggs with their times on timers above them.

I'll begin with a chart for cooking times. (I usually use large or extra large eggs). Try the different times below, so you can hear yourself say, "Ah, now that is just right;" be like Goldilocks! Every morning at breakfast, you will wonder why you waited so long to "use that one hour it took" to learn what you like, getting the perfect eggs for you and your family.

Egg Size      Cooked to Order    Boiling time

Medium                      Soft yolk                                .75 minutes
Medium                      Medium yolk                          2.5 minutes
Medium                      Hard yolk, but not green            8 minutes

Large                          Soft yolk                                  1 minutes
Large                          Medium yolk                        3-4 minutes
Large                          Hard yolk                                 9 minutes

Extra Large                Soft yolk                                   2 minutes
Extra Large                Medium yolk                         4-5 minutes
Extra Large                Hard                                       10 minutes

1. I used a larger pan than necessary for the purpose of pictures for this blog; a smaller saucepan would be fine too. Pour cold water into pan with raw eggs. Note: You do want to allow the eggs to move around a bit, because if they are too crowded, you will have flat sides due to the stationary egg cooking in a settled position.

2. I add vinegar to the pan, it helps the peel to come off easier. Baking soda added to the water works too, just don't let it soak in water to long, as it can make the egg white "meally."

3. Bring to a full boil. Place lid on pan (optional, I didn't in my experiments), turn off heat. Note: If you use a lid, it will take a second more of your time to lift lid... since I only had one minute to peel each egg, I didn't use a lid. To be frank, I usually don't use a lid because 1, 2, 3 minutes until done is fast enough! A lid will hold in the heat and could speed up your cooking times.

Lol,, ever try to take a pic of boiling water? Camera lens steams up & the eggs & water move.

My friend wanted to see the difference btwn simmer & boil.
4. I set the timer for the desired time once the boiling begins. When it rings. I pour off the hot water, roll eggs around in pan to slightly crack them.
5. Refill with cold water to stop the cooking process. The water will loosen the shell off the soaking eggs while you get set to peel them. I place one bowl out next to the sink for the shells (I compost, or you can let them go down the garbage disposal) and another bowl placed on the other side of the sink for the freshly peeled eggs.

6. Peel from wider end. I pore running cold water over the egg while I peel it; the running water will get under the membrane skin making it much easier to peel off with the hard shell. (This is my secret to smooth deviled eggs).
water will push it's way under the egg membrane shell, separating it from the egg for easy removal. ;0)

See film in upper right hand corner & along the top of the egg? You want to work on peeling this, not focusing on the hard part of the shell because it will take the hard with it, making it so easy to remove.

~Picture of the film on my black granite counter top that is separated from shell on a free-range brown egg. It's easier to view on fresh eggs, because their shells and film are thicker due to the better diet of the mother hen.

7. The following are images for you to pick your "Cooked to Order" desired doneness:

As soft as they come, 1.75 minutes on an Extra Large egg:

You can also find adorable egg servers to serve them in their shell. Purchase shell cutters or carefully use a knife to cut off the top. --(Found these two pretty images on The Food Network, one of my fav sites & shows):
 So Cute! Don't ya want to just dig in?

 Soft-Medium, yolk runny with yolk sides a bit solid (Extra-Large egg 3 minutes) :

Medium Egg, (Large egg for 4 minutes).

Medium Well Egg, (Extra-Large egg for 7 minutes) the shell half on lower front right; my fella ate the other half before I could grab my camera, lol. ;0)
Hard Egg, (10 minutes for Extra Large egg) on left side. They're sliced with a simple fork.

17 minutes. Green Eggs mean over-cooked; not "Green eggs and Ham."

Four hard boiled Tips:
--The egg whites on hard boiled eggs will become rubbery if you over-cook them. ;-) Green eggs are the sulfur in the whites (which cook faster than yolk in a quick heat or hot water method) reaction to the iron in the yolk. Keep the temperature of the white and yolk the same during the cooking process by beginning with cold water and eggs in the pan. A slow raise to boil; then do not "overcook" them. 
--Notice fluffy texture & pretty yellow color of the yolk; not green, due to over-cooking. ;0)
--Older eggs are much easier to peel than fresh ones, but I've done these steps with eggs from my friends' hens & did fine.
--On a normal day I do not do the "pin into an end" trick, but it does work to let the air out, as well as it ensures that the egg will not have a flat side. I'd do it, if a famous chef came to my house to eat, though, lol. ;-) Note: a large enough pan that allows eggs to roll around during cooking will eliminate a flat spot too. 

Now Enjoy your Breakfasts...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Egg Summer Vegetables w Licorice Mint & Pecorino

For today's Breakfast, I had a friend over; using leftovers from our dinner (and garden) the night before, we made an omelet, well kinda, lol... I'm calling the meal: Eggs and Summer Vegetables. --She requested the recipe; I find doing a blog so much easier than writting it all down w a pen and finding the time to get it to each other... not to mention, we bloggers love to share. ;-)

Ingredients are per person. I.E.: (multiply it by how many people served):
4 large eggs
1/4 C fresh spinach leaves
1 chopped miniature sweet pepper
1 Tbl sliced red onion
6 fat grilled asparagus, roughly chopped into one inch pieces.
1 slice of lunch meat ham, slivered.
1 piece thick bacon, cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
Wht pepper, black pepper and salt.
*2 large Licorice mint leaves sliced or Tarragon will work too.
Pecorino cheese shaved with a potato peeler or a grater.
1. Soft boil two eggs in salted water (wht done, yolk soft or semi-soft). (I poured off the boiling water, banged them in the saucepan to crack their shells and filled the pan with cold water, --letting sit while I did the rest of the meal prep. Then the peels slid right off once I came back to them! Slice eggs after peeled and place on plate first.
2. In a skillet saute meat, onion, and Sweet pepper (in that order, partially cook meat first, giving you the needed oil for the rest of the stir-fry).
3. Add spinach leaves and then asparagus to warm them. Lay stir-fry mixture over sliced eggs.
4. Fry two eggs over easy (wht's done, yolks runny), or poach would be better (hindsight, I'd rather have done that instead). Salt and pepper eggs to taste w both peppers and salt while cooking, before turning them. Note: If poached, wait until you spoon them out of the water to season them. The rich yolk will be your sauce as it flows between your vegetables; it is more rich than most creams (think of Eggs Benedict). Which is why I made toast to go with the meal, to get every drop of yolk! ;0)
5. Shave the cheese over your meal.
6. Arrange sliced Licorice Mint over your dish to finish!

*A note on Licorice Mint, also known as: Agastache rugosa (Korean Mint, Blue Licorice, Purple Giant Hyssop, Huo xiang, Indian Mint, Patchouli Herb, Wrinkled Giant Hyssop; syn. Lophanthus rugosus Fisch. & Mey). It is a medicinal and ornamental plant in the Lamiaceae family. It is called huò xiāng in Chinese and it is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. --I like to grow and cook with all sorts of herbs that are great for health and flavor! Tarragon also has that desired licorice taste and could subsitute just fine.

Using leftovers never got easier! ;0) Sooo EasY!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Color Wheel of Vitamins and Minerals

Eating a Variety of Color:
I've read many articles over the years, saved some, although unfortunately, I can't recall all of the sources. I even studied nutrition and food in my nursing courses, but my greatest education came from my mother and being raised off her garden! I can thank her for my basic knowledge of herbs, vegetables, and fruits.
Peas, A good crunch, fresh, right out of the garden, you can pop them into your mouth!
Recently I have had a few conversations with girlfriends who are trying to lose weight and with a colleague who is also a foodie chef and it got me to thinking that is was time for a blog designed to share the good fortune of wonderful food! 

Eating the Color Spectrum for Good Nutrition

It is no secret that eating a variety of colors in your diet will give you a better range of vitamins and minerals, so perhaps sometimes we just need a reminder to mix it up! Keep in mind Noah's rainbow in the sky, the next time you head to the grocery store and pick up a variety of color! If you usually just grab banana's, try instead some plums and oranges for your sweet tooth. If you're hooked on corn, give broccoli a try tonight!
Image is Mediterranean food.
 Image: There is more than one way to make a taco.
Another strategy is to try new types of food, like Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Asian; Today, you can find that the Internet is full of recipes to try! Unlike the fast food variety of Chinese food, instead of relying on unhealthy fat for flavor, expose yourself to flavor in the form of savory herbs, various peppers or spices, and a glorious rainbow of vegetables!
The Color Wheel of Vitamins and Minerals: 

·         Red. In fruits and vegetables, red is vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C. Typically, red produce are also high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies. Tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit are loaded with lycopene, a compound that appears to have cancer-fighting properties.
·         Orange. Just a shade away from red, orange in fruits and vegetables signifies a similar vitamin and mineral profile. You’ll get vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber in choices such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.

·         Yellow. Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind. It delivers potassium and fiber. It is the most calorie dense fruit you will find, which means it will also keep you full longer. Potassium and fiber, vitamin A, and magnesium you will find in other yellow produce, such as spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.

·         Green. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients, and because they are low calorie, they are considered "free food" in most diets. This means pile them on your plate! Dark leafy greens provide a staggering number of vitamins and minerals, compared to ice berg lettuce, that is more like consuming water. The dark leafy green group is spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, field greens for lettuce salads, broccoli and asparagus. Because of their rich lutein content, which aids eyesight, and foliate, which supports cell reproduction, they are well worth eating. So green it up! The calories only show their ugly head if you add salad dressing or butter on them. Try instead, a mixture of minced garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and a touch of olive oil. --And Instead of adding butter to cooked greens, try steaming them in chicken broth.

Play with your food!

·         Blue. Think blue, and you’re most likely picturing a bowl of blueberries, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. They are also loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet. Rather than eat plain pancakes, try making a whole-grain pancake and add blueberries to the batter! --And then add several raw ones on top, adding more yum to your cooked breakfast! Eat them by the handful, sprinkle them on cereal, or add them to salads for a sweet, different and delicious taste!

·         Purple. This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots. If you garden, try some of these "Easter Egg" colors; an added benefit: Kids may be more inclined to eat them!

White. White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, still shine with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and foliate, and they contain fiber. Don’t forget onions and garlic, which have a compound called allicin that seems to protect the heart and blood vessels from damage. Although, unlike the folk-lore they do nothing to keep the imaginary vampires away. ;-)

If your fruit and vegetable basket has been limited to peas and grapes, exploring the rainbow of choices available at your local farmers’ market or the produce section of your grocery store, will reward you with a bounty of vitamins and minerals as well as delicious meals! Bon appetit!