April 28, 2011

Of Cobbler and Eggs

The other night I was at Jordan's swim class, watching her make a grand attempt at the butterfly stroke, when I overheard a couple women start talking about cooking. I have built in radar for the words "cooking", "baking" are "gardening". A little alarm goes off and I zero in on the conversation. So naturally I started eves-dropping.

They were talking about berry crisp recipes. One woman was explaining a recipe she tried that didn't work out. From the sounds of it she was making a cobbler and expecting a crisp, which is exactly what the other woman said. (The second woman was clearly very smart.) It made me think of a berry cobbler a room mate of mine, Carolyn, made a few years back. Carolyn is a great cook and after spending a day at a local U-pick she made this wonderful treat:

Carolyn's Very East Berry Cobbler
1/2 c butter
1 c flour
1 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c milk
3 pints berries (a mix is best - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
cinnamon and sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put butter in a 9x13 baking dish and place in oven. In a bowl, sift dry ingredients together, then add milk. Take the baking dish out when the butter is melted and pour the dough in. Top with berries (don't stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake 30 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 15 minutes. I serve the cobbler in a bowl with milk. It's also great with a scoop of ice cream.

So after the women were done talking about berry crisps and making me very hungry they moved on to "why is it difficult to peel some hard-boiled eggs?" The one who didn't know a crisp from a cobbler, explained that for Easter she made deviled eggs and used organic ones bought at a farmers market. She said that nearly all the eggs wouldn't peel without the whites sticking to the shell. The other woman didn't offer an explanation of why this happens, but did suggest adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the water before boiling the eggs. After the water comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat and cover to let the eggs finish cooking. Apparently that process will make the shells come off. I don't know if that is true - I'll give it a try to see - but I do know why the shells were being so difficult.

The eggs were too fresh. This is one of those little facts I had no idea about before moving the farm. Back then, my eggs came from a huge grocery store and were always easy to peel. My first attempt at making deviled eggs from our chickens was so much a disaster that it ended up being egg salad served with baguettes. I did some research about why this happened and found a great, detailed answer at www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/eggs-hard-to-peel/. It has to do with the shell membrane and pH and something called albumen. But the bottom line is that when you make deviled eggs, use the oldest, but still good, eggs you can find. Through some experimentation, I found that 2 weeks old or older peel easily. No vinegar required.

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