I’ve been blessed with some mad skills. Cooking and baking skills. From the perfect pot roast to the most delectable lasagna to moist cupcakes, there is nothing in the world of cooking that I cannot master.
Except baked potatoes and hard boiled eggs. You people have no idea how many hundreds of dollars I’ve wasted in trying to master baked potatoes and hard boiled eggs.
Baked potatoes are, I’ve heard, the easiest item to cook. Hell, you set the oven and bake the thing for however long. I’ve followed multiple step-by-step instructions and no matter what, the potato is either severely under-cooked or so dried out that no amount of butter and sour cream can salvage it. I’ve been cooking for myself for the last 7 years and I’ve bought a sack of potatoes religiously on every weekly trip to the grocery store, only to destroy them all in the oven. Hence…I no longer like baked potatoes. I can’t even order them when I go out to dinner. Not that it matters anymore since I went Paleo.
Now for the eggs. I remember sitting at the kitchen table after my father boiled x-amount of eggs watching him peel the eggshell off in one fluid motion. Okay…maybe two fluid motions.
About 6 months ago, I decided to make some hard boiled eggs for the first time. Should be easy enough – boil the eggs in water, cool them off a bit, peel and eat. NOTHING HAS EVER BEEN EASIER SAID THAN DONE!! The eggs literally stuck to the eggshells and I just created more of a mess trying to peel the eggshells off the sections of egg that I “salvaged”. Yeah…until I bit into one and felt the crunch. Turned me off hard boiled eggs for a while.
Recently, I received a request to make pickled or red beet eggs. My excitement to try something new was immediately dampened when I realized I was going to have to boil and then peel at least 2 dozen eggs. So I used the Google and after sifting through pages and pages of conflicting opinions “only use week old eggs”, “only use fresh eggs”, “use a teaspoon of vinegar in the water”, “don’t use vinegar, use salt in the water”, I found what I thought was a great step-by-step instruction…it even had pictures!! OF PERFECT EGGS!!! I managed to have about 10 eggs by the time I was done peeling. 2 dozen to 10! My guy made the vinegar mixture for the eggs and they came out great.
When the pickle jar was empty – the request for more came again. Unfortunately…not one egg was peel-able. So I did what I should have done in the first place: I called my parents.
My mom answered the phone…as soon as I told her I had a cooking question, she put my dad on the phone. I could hear the disappointment in my fathers voice…out of every cooking question I had, it had to be about how to boil eggs. (Not to mention his resolve in trying not to laugh…I mean..it’s a hard boiled egg for goodness sake). He told me his method, repeated it for good measure then I asked him about how old the eggs have to be. According to him “I’ve been cooking for 50 years” the fresher the eggs the better. He advised to start with 4 eggs. Is he kidding me? 4 eggs? Pfft. I’m going for the full 18 that I bought that day.
Into the fridge I went. I took the 18 eggs out of the carton, placed them in the bottom of my macaroni pot because that pot is not just for making spaghetti, covered them with about 2 inches of water and waited for them to boil.
Then I realized…I never asked him how long to boil them. Instead of calling him back, I did what I did the first time and as soon as the water started to boil, I took them off the stove and covered them with a lid for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, as I was waiting for the water to boil, I checked my twitter account and there was a link from my mom that stated that the eggs should be a week old. HA! See? Conflicting.
According to my dad, I was to pour the hot water out and cover the eggs with cool water, pour the water out again and repeat until they were cool enough to handle. This went totally against all the results that Google pinged back. Most of the results either had the eggs sitting in an ice bath or in the cool water for a bit. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be going to the grocery store again in the morning.
I bounced the first egg gently on the counter. I rolled it and bounced it so the shell cracked all the way around. I started to peel at where I thought the air pocket was and there was the elusive perfect egg.
The science behind my failures? The eggs cooled so much that that skinny lil membrane adhered itself to the egg and the shell. The egg also expanded as it cooled. As long as the eggs were still warm to the touch, they were easily peelable.
Now if only I could perfect the baked potato, I’d be able to take my cooking on the road.