A few degrees off plumb
7: 33 a.m.: A couple minutes ago I decided to have a soft-boiled egg for breakfast. Yes, a nice, soft-boiled egg, piping hot and wisping tendrils of steam into the frigid morning air. It’s cold in the house because the fire went out overnight and if I want a new fire I’m going to have to clean the ash out of the firebox, but the airtight ash bucket is full to the top with dead ash and the trash can into which it could be dumped is up at the verrrrry top of the driveway, also full, because the damned garbage pick-up company changed our pick-up day without letting us know. So the trash can will remain at the top of the driveway (where I dragged it, huffing and puffing because it weighed about 200 pounds and the driveway is on an 80-degree slope, on Wednesday evening) until Tuesday, the new trash day.
Got that? So it’s fricking cold in here and there is no fire, but the cat, who chowed down on his breakfast kibbles immediately upon rising, has draped himself over my left arm as I type in a valiant attempt to share his body heat with me. I realize that he’s probably only thinking of himself – I am, by far, the warmest spot in the house right now – but it’s comforting to delude myself that he’s trying to body-meld with me because he loves me so much.
7:40 a.m.: Anyway, back to the egg. I get the egg-cooker off the shelf. I’m sleepy from having awakened so many times during the night (see previous posts) so I can’t be blamed if, upon looking at the egg-cooker, I think, “ooh, it’s gotten a little dusty! Better clean that up!” I wipe the domed plastic cover off with a damp cloth. There, that’s better, I think drowsily, visions of hot soft-boiled egg dancing through my head. Really, I should just put the cover into the dishwasher next time I run it. That way, it will come out squeaky clean and clear, not just just wiped off haphazardly, which doesn’t go very far toward actual cleanliness. I am so undomesticated.
Just so you’re aware: I love my egg-cooker. Using an appliance specifically to cook eggs is a habit I first started in Germany, when I happened across one of the inexpensive gadgets a local store. I’d never seen an egg-cooker before and let me tell you, I was completely charmed because I really, really love soft-boiled eggs, but it’s hard to get them just right. Now, it was early on in my stay in Germany when I found the egg-cooker, but one of the neat little things I already loved about the country was the breakfast they served at the hotels, large and small. Called “fruhstuck,” it consisted of sliced, dense, heavy breads or, if you preferred, a couple of heavenly “brotchen,” which were fist-sized, freshly-baked, still-warm buns baked crisp and golden on the outside but incredibly white, soft and tasty inside. (I know these foreign words are not punctuated correctly but I haven’t got the patience right now to find the right keystrokes in Word for umlauts, OK??)
Brotchen were perfect for slathering on butter and cream cheese and a little jam. Fruhstuck also included thinly sliced cold meats, sliced or spreadable cheeses, and big bowls of musli with pitchers of milk. All was served with individual pots that held two cups or so of strong, wicked-hot German coffee, with clotted, unsweetened cream and cubes of sugar on the side. Oh, yum.
And then there were the eggs, of course.
These were delicious, soft-boiled eggs, served in cute little egg-cups. I’d seen this darling egg-eating custom in a movie once (I think it was “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium,” which in my memory was both delightful and hilarious and made me yearn to visit Europe years before I actually got to) and of course, I was anxious to give it a try. It took some practice, but eventually I could do that little tapping thing around the top of the egg with my knife that allows you to just lift the top off like a cap, then eat the egg with a tiny spoon right out of the shell, which remains intact. I can hardly describe how absolutely delicious an egg is, served this way, but believe me when I say that there is nothing better than dipping a bit of toast into the perfectly hot, thickened but still liquid yolk… but I digress, again. Dang it’s cold in here.
7:42: So I get out my egg cooker, which took me five years of searching for in the Ami stores after leaving my German one behind because it worked only on European current and had the wrong plug for the U.S. My new (heheh – it’s about 10 years old now) egg-cooker is an “Egg Head,” which is cute and round, and has seven holes for eggs and two small, rounded, triangular cups for poached eggs, if you want them. You pour a specific amount of water into the cooker, put the cover on and flip the switch, and the cooker boils the water which, as it converts to steam, cooks the eggs.
To determine the specific amount of water necessary to cook soft eggs or hard eggs the Egg Head comes with a special measuring cup. This cup is narrow, sort of like a tall test tube, and there are gradations of egg-cooked-ness embossed on the side. The bottom of the measuring tube thingy is concave and has, right in the very middle, a tiny nail which you use to poke a tiny hole through the shell at the end of the egg so steam can escape from inside it as it cooks. This prevents a very messy, eggy explosion.
This water-measuring thingy with the nail in the bottom fits right into the Egg Head for storage. It lays sideways on top of the poaching cups in the center of the device, at the highest part of the dome-like cover. Handy. When you’re done cooking your egg, you just dry everything off, put the little measuring thingy back in and put the whole appliance away. The cord hangs around being aggravating, but really, it’s all very simple.
So I get out my Egg Head. I put it on the counter. I wipe off the cover in a fit of sleepy sanitary fussiness. I lift it off.
There is no measuring thingy inside.
I stand there for a moment while my universe shifts a tad. This is impossible. Then I remember on Thanksgiving morning, really really early in the morning, I made a soft boiled egg. And in the busy confusion and nose-to-the-grindstone cooking marathon that ensued right after I consumed that little egg, I put the Egg Head away without putting the measuring thingy inside it.
So for several days, the measuring thingy stood all alone on the back of the rolling kitchen cart, the one where I keep fresh veggies and apples and cooking utensils and even tiny red peppers from Mr. Wren’s garden. They’ve naturally dried through disuse (which is how the original humans discovered dried foods). I keep them in a wee glass bowl, ready for the day I’ve actually remembered to buy and don rubber gloves and goggles in preparation for slicing the itsy peppers open to remove the miniscule but Fiery Seeds of Doom so I can add whatever’s left after that to something we’re brave enough to eat. It’s one of those Someday Projects. I figure those peppers will keep forever and ever.
So. I left the measuring thingy on the kitchen cart. Back in late November. Right. I look on the kitchen cart. The measuring thingy for my egg-cooker is not there anywhere. Not even behind the wooden spoons or the folk-metal baker Santa Claus that rocks.
OK. Now, I know this isn’t a big deal. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. But in an entire decade, I have never misplaced the measuring thingy for my Egg Head egg-cooker. Not even once. It has always been right where I expected it to be, balanced precariously atop the poaching cups beneath the clear plastic dome cover. And here’s the problem – without the measuring thingy, you cannot cook the eggs to their perfect, proper doneness.
Disbelieving, I once again study the top of the kitchen cart, because I know I saw the thingy there. I even … vaguely … recall thinking, “I’ll lose this if I don’t put it away” because I’ve had a lifetime of practice in losing small things and forgetting important things. I had A.D.D. before it was stylish. Before it was in. Before it was called a disorder. We called it being “absent-minded” or “careless” back then. Some people I know who are my age are now blaming this sort of behavior on “senior moments.” But I’m not admitting that, not yet.
7:50: The measuring thingy is not in the egg-cooker and not on the kitchen cart. I start going through the cupboards, thinking, “OK, so I did put it away, I remember now, but I didn’t take the time to put it back with the egg-cooker, I put it somewhere I’d remember where it was.”
The Dreaded, Famous Last Words: “I’ll put it here, where I’ll remember it.” Heh.
8:10: That measuring thingy is noplace in my kitchen. I’ve now looked everywhere. I looked in the cupboards above the counter, I looked in the ones below the counter. I looked in all the drawers, even the junk drawer. I looked where I keep the dishes, and the glasses, and the coffee cups. In the spice cabinet. In the drawer under the oven. I looked in the bread basket on top of the refrigerator and even inside the refrigerator itself. Then I looked in all those places two more times.
I haven’t checked my sock drawer yet, but I have a terrible feeling that if I do, I just might find the egg-cooker measuring thingy there.
Blogging this crisis has gone pretty well, but I still haven’t had anything to eat. I want my soft boiled egg. Yes, I know. I could put water in a pan, put an egg in it and boil the water. The thing is, I can never get the egg just right that way. It’s either too runny – ewwwww! – or cooked too hard. Ick. Those are good for Easter or for deviled eggs or even egg salad, but not for my breakfast.
Sigh. Well, I have to hit the shower. And then it will be time to go get my short hair highlighted so Mr. Wren doesn’t think I’ve gone butch on him. By the time I get home, he’ll be up and, if I’m lucky, there will be a fire going and it will be much warmer in here. And when I look again, I’ll find that egg-cooker measuring thingy right there on the counter.
The universe will tip back neatly to plumb, and all will be well.