I have long wanted to write a column titled "An ode to the egg." Easter seems like the ideal opportunity. It's the day when children initiate early-morning searches on lawns and in living rooms, screeching with delight as they lay claim to a single colorful egg or a decorated basket full of them. I suspect many of those eggs screw in half at their plastic center, but I'm choosing not to dwell on those.
My affection for eggs started early. We lived on a working farm, as my mother referred to it, and we had chickens. Lots of them. It began with baby chicks received from a caring neighbor — food for our sometimes-struggling family, I suspect. That same tiny farm had a few sheep and one hog. The sheep and that lone Yorkshire pig had names, of course. The chickens — not so much. Personalization never seemed to deter us when it came to table fare, which surprises me in hindsight.
Early-morning eating was a big deal on our little family farm. Eggs came fried ("over easy, break the yolk"), scrambled, and in omelets filled with garden vegetables. On some days, eggs appeared at breakfast, lunch and dinner — although growing up in rural Minnesota, we always called the last meal "supper."
Did I mention I mastered soufflés at a very young age?
You may notice nostalgia in my tone — perhaps it's a Lutheran-kind-of-Easter thing. In fact, there's so much nostalgia present at this moment, I've now convinced myself to go to the kitchen and peel a hard-boiled egg that's been sitting in our refrigerator calling to me. ... I'm still trying to create this column, but I'm eating an egg. (Lemon pepper is particularly good with a hard-boiled egg, by the way.)
Be it known, I'm not the only one captivated by the topic of eggs. I found a compelling blog, at www.ode2eggs.com, created by another egg lover. She opens her blog with, "He that looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart."
I'm not sure that's an appropriate quote to use for an Easter column, but I'm choosing to just go with it. And I'm not entirely sure why it speaks to me — maybe it's those happy clucking sounds in the background. Or did I just imagine those?
This particular website is fascinating on multiple levels. It shows how to make "perfect baked eggs and cheese." But that turns out to be a teaser for a book to be published in the fall. (Clever, these egg people are.)
The Ode to Eggs site also takes you to a video about deviled eggs made with Greek yogurt — which is being prepared by a happy, pregnant woman who appears to sincerely believe eating eggs leads to above-average children. Not entirely research-based, but interesting.
There are several egg-centered websites out there. One, at http://heydayfarm.com/ode-to-eggs, shows you how to make the perfect poached egg (put two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in the poaching water). Or go to the Washington State University Extension website and become totally enchanted by a recipe for Pickled Beet Eggs. I have done that. I've eaten those very eggs. Might I say "Egg-cellent." (Sorry, I just could not resist.)
Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-776-7371, ext. 210.