It took me most of my adult life, which is to say most of my life, to perfect scrambled eggs. It’s easy to make good scrambled eggs, not that hard to make very good scrambled eggs, but damn near impossible to make perfect scrambled eggs. Perfect little pillows of bright, yellow deliciousness light enough to float off the plate into your mouth where they melt over your tongue into a symphony of wonderful. That kind of perfect.
When you get down to it, scrambled eggs require only three things – eggs, fat, and heat. It is the combination of those three things that make the difference between meh and perfect. About a year ago I found the perfect combination for perfect scrambled eggs and I’ve been making them the same way ever since. Two eggs, a half ounce of half-and-half, beat until my arm is tired, then rest (the eggs, not the arm) while a half tablespoonful of butter melts in a seven inch omelet pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and fragrant, pour in the eggs then start moving them around the pan with a heat proof spatula, turning down the heat to low. Keep turning the eggs until they are almost set then pull them off the heat. Add any desired herbs, salt, and pepper; give them one final turn around the pan and transfer them to a nearby plate allowing them to rest just long enough to carry them to the table where coffee, juice, toast, and the morning paper wait. Alternately you can just stand over the kitchen counter and eat them right from the skillet but you will miss out on the daily crossword puzzle.
Three, four, maybe five times a week I start my day like that. The days I don’t are there just to make the scrambled egg days even more special. Yesterday was a scrambled egg day. Yesterday sucked. When I ended up with watery clumps of yuckiness my first thought was that I had a sudden brain fart severe enough to make me forgot how to cook. I almost convinced myself of that except everything else – coffee, juice, toast, newspaper – came out just fine. And my socks matched. Then I spotted the culprit. On the counter, waiting to go back into the refrigerator was the carton of half-and-half (or half-cream as the Europeans might call it). Except it wasn’t. Apparently I indeed had suffered some brain issue but it was when I was at the supermarket the day before. Apparently, that’s when I picked up a carton of fat-free half-and-half.
Who the hell makes fat-free half-and-half? What the hell is fat-free half-and-half? Half-and-half is half milk, half cream. That’s two components whose defining ingredient is fat. Real half-and-half is about 12 percent fat. I took a look at the ingredient label on the imposter. “Skim milk, corn syrup, cream*.” I looked for the asterisk and found “* Not a significant source of fat.” In other words, so little cream compared to the skim milk and corn syrup that it might have been in the same county as a cow for a short while. American skim milk is less than 0.2% fat or essentially white water.I had unwittingly tried to make my fluffy yellow clouds not with thick, rich, creamy half-and-half but with thickened water.
My shopping blunder resulted in me making scrambled eggs (which you recall require eggs, fat, and heat) with two out of three ingredients. When it comes to scrambled eggs, two out of three is bad. I’ll be going to the store again in a couple of days and I’ll replace my ersatz half-and-half with the real deal. As for the remainder of the fake stuff, I suppose I can use it on oatmeal. That’s supposed to be good for you, too.
That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?