March 28, 2008

The Joy of Cooking

Since being home, I've been really enjoying the art of cooking again. I haven't made anything very gourmet or fancy, but just having skillets that don't scorch everything and a variety of foods, spices, meat and cooking implements makes me want to cook.

Although I planned to get right to work making the crumpets we love so much, I haven't gotten around to that yet. I bought some yeast, but it is just sitting there looking at me, not actually making the crumpets for me.

Over in England, the kids loved the Scottish grown carrots. They ate them for snacks and gobbled them down. Back home again, they don't particularly like them and when raw carrots are on the menu, they insist they are not consumable without ranch for dipping. I can't tell a huge difference, but my children seem to.

One interesting thing we came home with was a love of brown eggs. I'd been told before that brown eggs tasted better than white ones, but I never really bothered to research that information before. While we were in England, we usually bought a fifteen egg carton (silly metric system) of mixed size brown eggs, which was the cheapest thing in the store. Since the only skillet we had scorched everything, I usually hardboiled the eggs and the kids loved them. One night for dinner they ate almost all fifteen.

When we came home, I bought our usual white eggs and a few days later made hardboiled eggs for breakfast. "These smell odd," said the five year old. The shells were really, really thin and the flavor wasn't what I'd remembered. Nobody wanted to finish their eggs.

Just for experimental purposes I bought a box of brown eggs (not fancy cage free, organic, farm raised ones). We tried them hardboiled and made a pan of scrambled white and scrambled brown. And in blind tastes tests we could all tell the difference. The brown ones had a harder shell and were much more flavorful. Our current compromise is now to buy brown eggs for eating and white ones for baking. I don't think I'm ready to move to the country and raise my own chickens yet, so that will have to do.

For me one of the joys of traveling is finding new foods, not necessarily exotic things, but different things -- like black currant popsicles (oops, ice lollies) or local varieties of cheese. England made for a pleasant diversion from normal eating with some new and different things to try. I just never thought I'd change my egg purchasing habits because of a trip abroad.


With each spring the sign at the local feed-seed store announces the availability of baby chicks. For the last several years, Mrs. Spud has wanted to get a few, but we just have not been at the point of being able to "confidently" arrange housing. We kept chickens in the last two farms we owned so we do have an idea of what's involved.

It looks like this will be another spring of no chickens, again. I've not tried the taste test between brown and white eggs, though I can tell a difference between fresh and somewhat-stale eggs. With better feed (i.e. veg scraps) the yolks on the home-grown eggs stand up better too. They're not very difficult to keep if you have some space in the back yard. You should be able to find a few good books to give you an idea of what you need to do to keep chickens if you're so inclined.

Did you get any inspiration on curry dishes to try and cook yourself whilst visiting Brittania?

Posted by: Marc V at March 29, 2008 08:32 PM

I wonder if the brown eggs tend to be organic and thus not washed like the white industrial ones, leaving the "coating" intact so the flavor stays in...

Of course, industrial eggs produced from unhappy chickens may have a lack of taste all their own.

Posted by: Cheryl at March 30, 2008 04:49 AM

Get this- I had cold (brown) eggs that needed to be room temp, so I ran a bowl of hot water and let them soak for about fifteen minutes. When I was ready to put them in the cake I was making, I cracked the first one and it was significantly easier to crack. It was the same for the other three. So, while I can't say anything about taste, it seems that the soak did weaken the shell structure somewhat.

snort. I can't believe I just wrote all that out like a real live lab experiment...

Posted by: Cheryl at April 2, 2008 11:42 AM

The color of the eggs has more to do with the breed/type of chicken. There is a breed from South America that will give colored eggs (soft pastels). The shell hardness and taste are related to what the bird is fed.

Posted by: Marc V at April 3, 2008 05:30 AM