Monday, January 30, 2012

Egg Problems

I have a problem with hard boiled eggs (the ones that come from chickens, not the dear old folks who need Fox News to help them make sense of the world these days). Or would it be more accurate to say the eggs have a problem with me? Perhaps. But either way, this problem is really two problems. The first, correctly cooking the hard boiled egg.  The second, peeling the shell from the hard boiled egg. And, to make this even more complicated... I wouldn't be surprised if the cooking problem is related to the peeling problem.

There are about as many formulas for cooking the perfect hard boiled egg as there are cooks. (Just look, they're scattered all over the internet... Google's 69th most popular search!!) I've tried many but just never quite found the one that works consistently for me. Sometimes the egg is overcooked and it's hard and rubbery. And often, if overcooked, there's this strange green-ish layer of some unknown substance around the yoke which recent research has indicated, that while unsightly and disgusting, is safe to eat.  I think I've been mostly overcooking my eggs in the past.

But I have good news on the cooking front. I've found a system for boiling eggs to perfection.

  • Combine a little salt and vinegar with water in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. (that's right... get the water boiling first.)
  • Add the eggs one at a time, being careful not to crack them. (I use a set of kitchen tongs to slip the eggs into the water, one at a time... gently)
  • Reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook for 15 minutes. (adjust for size of egg and elevation)
  • Once the eggs have cooked immediately remove them from the hot water and place into a container of ice water or cold, running water. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  • Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

The biggest change from what I was doing in the past is placing the eggs in already boiling water, and continuing the boiling action going during the entire cooking time. It makes sense that "time at cooking temperature" is more precisely controlled with this method.

I once heard that hard-boiled eggs are a "negative food"... that is, your body burns more calories in peeling and digesting the egg than there are contained in the egg. I highly doubt that's true for most people but considering the extreme problem I have in peeling the hard boiled egg, it may well be the case for me. Nay, I dare say, for me, it's far more than a problem... it's an absolute inability... probably stemming from some congenital defect in my thumbs. Dar has proven it to me time and time again.

With the same batch of cooked eggs we both start peeling at the same moment. I shatter the shell... a few small shards yield, a glimmer of hope, I might get lucky with this one... but no, the process devolves into 10 minutes of increasingly smaller shell fragments being pried off with increasing difficulty and larger attached pieces of egg white. Heart pounding, sweating profusely, hands shaking with frustration, microscopic shell fragments scattered all over the counter, the wall, the floor, my result is a mottled scarred mis-shapen blob that more resembles a cratered moon of Uranus (or an AMC Pacer) than the glistening sleek smooth orb that Dar liberated from just two (two!!) shell halves 10 minutes earlier. She's a egg peeling superstar.

So, in the spirit of the egg (chicken?.. egg?.. which came first?...), we've once again found harmony and balance. I cook. She peels. We're happy.

Feb. 2, 2012 addendum:  It's been suggested that older (aged) eggs probably will peel easier. Also, with the cooking process I defined above, it's best to get the eggs out of the refrigerator early, and let them warm closer to room temperature before cooking.  This will reduce the number of eggs that crack while cooking from thermal shock. I'm still all ears if you have other suggestions.

June 19, 2012 addendum:  Here's an idea that does work. My daughter Andi found it. Instead of boiling water at all, just bake the eggs in an oven. Use a muffin pan to keep them separated and under your control. Warm the eggs to near room temperature, place in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool quickly in cold water when done. Adjust time for oven variation and size of eggs.  It worked great.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jan 23 - Blogging Tank is Empty

What I seem to have accomplished by promising weekly updates to this Journal is to reduce my writer's anxiety (deadline anxiety??) to just a few hours on Sunday... usually later on Sunday afternoon. I guess that's a good thing. But so little has happened this past week that even my heightened urgency has not helped me produce an entry tonight. My blogging tank is drained.

We're fine... the weather's been fine... and I'm sure I'll have more to report next week.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jan 16 - Turds, Birds, and a few Words

And now, for this week, something completely different...

If you're tuning in to get your usual dose of RV happy-blather, this might be a good time to step along to the next blog on your list. Instead, all I have to offer is a series of disjointed comments and observations... all of which were done during the Packers-Giants play-off game Sunday evening. Like I said above... something completely different.

The Giants just opened up scoring in this big play-off game with a field goal. The Packer defense held them to 3 points after a nice drive. OK... game on!

So many people in our culture are fixated on fruit-cake "celebrities", most of whom are not normal people, to say the least. Proof? Well, here's a list of celebrity baby names (and their celeb parent) that have recently been reported in the popular press:

Apple (Gwineth, of course)
Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee... whoever that is)
Kal-El (Nic Cage) (Sounds like an airline, but it's not.)
Track / Trig  (Tea Party Sweetheart Sara, of course)
Spec / Hud  (John Mellencamp)
Jermajesty (Jermaine Jackson)
Sparrow (Nicole Richie) (I liked it more when I thought it was a girls name. That's right, it was hung on a boy. Brings to mind the song "A Boy Named Sue". Think he's in for a tough time of it.)
Bronx Mowgli  (Ashlee Simpson??)

In our "it's all about ME" culture, I guess these are attempts to bestow unique, one of a kind, names on kids... so they'll get off on the right foot in life. "You're so special!"

But this guy, from a recent news article from Madison Wisconsin, beats 'em all. Not sure what motivated this, but it does surely provide evidence that, just perhaps, we should consider re-opening some of our shuttered mental institutions.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Authorities in southern Wisconsin are facing a tongue twister thanks to the arrest of Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. The unusually named 30-year-old man was in jail Sunday in Madison. Police say he violated his bail conditions from a previous run-in with the law. Court records show that his name used to be Jeffrey Drew Wilschke. He legally changed it in October.

The Capital Times reports that Zopittybop-Bop-Bop was arrested last week after residents complained of excessive drinking and drug use near Reynolds Park in Madison. Authorities say he was arrested in another local park last April after police found a loaded handgun in his backpack. He’s tentatively charged with carrying a concealed knife, and possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana.
Packers answered with a field goal... and then they exchanged TDs... game tied 10-10.

Candidates for President
A few years ago, during my days in corporate America, I had an old boss that used to use a phrase that pretty well sums up the way I feel about this year's crop of candidates for the office of president. I'm talking about the lot of them... both parties... anyone who could conceivably be on the ballot in November.

"No matter how much you polish and rub and shine a turd, what you end up with is still a turd. It might have a little slick sheen to it, but it's still a turd."

I'm truly offended that we'll have to choose between two of any of them. What a zoo. To call this a rigged system is an understatement.

What if they held an election and NO ONE voted??? Well, I will no longer vote for the brightest turd. 

The Giants capitalized on a turnover with more points... but again, the defense held em to a field goal.  Giants 13, Pack 10... two minutes left in the first half.

Pet Peeves
Is it possible that the poor economy is resulting in the poor condition of the fleet of shopping carts in grocery stores? I've noticed a rash of shopping carts lately that pull to one side, thump and squeak down the isles due to square, bent, or sticky wheels, hard to push, dirty.  And why is the previous user's shopping list usually left in the bottom of the cart?  The other day I used the wrong list and came home with the makings for a 7 layer cake.
WTF... hail mary pass results in a TD for the Giants just seconds before half time.... 20-10. Comon' Pack! Sheesh!

More Pet Peeves
Tables in restaurants... always have one leg shorter than the others... tippy... drinks spilling all over the place... Why? Can't restaurant tables have legs that can be easily adjusted? I'd really rather spin an adjustment ring instead of jamming a pile of folded napkins under the short leg. I mean... com'on, this has been going on for years... maybe forever.

The Packers managed a field goal in the third quarter... now 20-13 Giants. The Pack is certainly not in championship form. And the Giants are playing tough.

Whooping Cranes
We did find some rare Whooping Cranes a few miles north of our camp the other day. They were a long way off, and the photos we took were taken through a wire mesh fence (and not so good), but we were happy to see them regardless.

click on photo to enlarge

Giants score again... a field goal in the fourth quarter... now 23-13 Giants.

Giants score yet again... capitalizing on a Packer fumble... now 30-13 Giants.

Pack scores a TD! WhooHooo! Not much time left... Giants 30-20 

Giants drive the nail in the coffin, scoring a TD with 2:36 remaining in the game... Giants 37-20.

Oh well...there's always next year!

Turds, Birds, and a few Words. That's it.  OK, I'm done bitching. And remember, Dar, it's just a game.

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jan 9 - Along the Coastal Bend of Texas

St. Dominic Church, D'Hanis Texas  1853
"Howdy" from the Coastal Bend of Texas.

Well, we had a quiet first week to kick off 2012. After making the move from Hondo to Rockport we settled in for the long haul... three months in one spot... and caught up with our friends and acquaintances at our Winter home away from home. For whatever reason, the RV park seems busier and more congested with big rigs than our memories from the past few years. Don't know why.

It didn't take long for Dar to get fully involved in the medical world again. After a day to set up camp here at Sandollar, and another to finish up some paperwork and pick up her schedule at the hospital, she was back in nursing action on Wednesday... Thursday too. The good news is that there appears to be a little more staffing depth this year so she hopefully won't be pulling 80 hour weeks like last year... perhaps a little balance between work and leisure.

And I'm reluctantly falling into my domestic role to help fill the gap created in Dar's absence. That's right, dish-pan hands and all, I'm trying to develop a routine of sorts to keep my arch-enemies, procrastination and laziness, from creating an out-of-control build-up of unfinished chores. Things will just work smoother if I can stay on top of it all. I'm trying... I'm really trying.

Saturday, Dar and I drove up to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, about 35 miles north, to see how the endangered Whooping Cranes are faring with the deep desperate Texas drought. While some recent rain has helped, the "Whoopers" are struggling to find food... munching on second and third choices in the absence of their favorite blue crabs, which are a casualty of the drought. The managers of the Refuge prefer to let nature take it's course... to let the birds naturally seek out and find alternate food sources on their own... and will only dole out the Purina Crane-Chow if the situation becomes desperate.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, our Grandson Ryan accompanied his Pop and some friends to a Portland Winterhawks hockey game last week. They thoroughly enjoyed the outing. But because he, Ryan, has an indefinable way about him... a humble confidence... a magnetic charisma that draws people to him... especially people of the cheerleading persuasion... he was smothered with attention and had to escape out a side door before things got completely out of hand. Here's a photo from early in the evening that'll give you a sense of what he had to deal with.  Poor guy.

Grandson Ryan with a few of his 'groupies".
And finally, I'm including a link to a short video produced by a friend of ours, Mike Fousie. Mike is a fulltimer RVer who is particularly talented with a camera. While volunteering along the Oregon coast this past summer he shot this video. I found it interesting... moving... and thought I'd post a link to it here. Hope you enjoy. Click here for Mike's video "Sacred Journeys".

Another update next Monday... or before if something comes up.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jan 4 - New Blog Schedule

I'm going to try something different this winter during our extended stay in Rockport. Most of you know I have a problem coming up with interesting additions to the Journal while sitting for extended periods of time... periods like the next three months. During these times, we don't get out exploring much, and both mind and body are often otherwise occupied. The mental energy involved with puffing-up the mundane... spinning a trip to Walmart into an excursion to the South Pole... takes a toll on me.

No more.

In an effort to reduce both boring posts and the time I put into trying to come up with those boring posts, I'm going to move to a more defined schedule for new posts to our RV Sabbatical Journal. During this January, February, and March, I will update the Journal one time per week, on Monday morning. Of course, if we do get out for some substantial exploring, or if something really noteworthy happens, I reserve the right to post a "special edition" at any time.

Now let's see how the old boy handles a weekly deadline.

Remember, Monday morning.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jan 2 - Hope

Yesterday, Dar and I said good-bye to the SKP Lone Star Corral RV Park near Hondo TX, our home for the past 16 days, and made the drive down to Sandollar Resort near Rockport TX. Sandollar has been our winter home for the past few years. This will be our third year of spending three months here.

Like last year, Dar is going to put in a little time at the local hospital... exercising her RN nursing skills and making a little money to help offset the cost of health insurance. I've got a list of projects as long as my arm and will be brushing up on my domestic skills... cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. in addition to my regular chores on the bus-house... washing, waxing, lubing, etc.

There are no New Years resolutions here... just hope. I hope we all remain healthy, vibrant, and active. I hope our travels and explorations come off safely and without serious problems. I hope we can add a few days on the travel/explore side of the ledger while reducing a few days on the sitting side. And I hope the US Congress... the lot of them... find a way to set petty politics aside and get this experiment in democracy back on track, for the benefit of ALL it's citizens and not just the top 1%.

I can hope. Can't I?