Saturday, May 18, 2013

ya gotta break some eggs

Really must pull myself together here...I promise you babygoat naming and a kitchen tip, then - surprise!! - I give you astronauts and the International Space Station.

Catching up on earthly matters now!

First, please join me in the kitchen, for a recipe and a tip.

Have you ever heard the bizarrely obvious expression, "Ya gotta break some eggs if you want to make mayonnaise"?  Well, I have been making my own mayonnaise (after breaking the necessary eggs) for several months now.  Homemade mayonnaise is easy, quick, and delicious.  Bonus: the extremely simple recipe has room for flexibility and experimentation (= fun!).  As long as I have a blender and a few simple ingredients on hand, I may never go back to storebought.  If my blender breaks, I'll try using a whisk...that's how good this is.

Mayonnaise typically contains raw eggs, which I understand may not sit well with everyone.  I believe there are also "cooked" mayo recipes, so if you have experience with that method, please feel free to share in the comments.

Meanwhile, here's how I do it.

First, blend thoroughly:

2 eggs, largish
1 tsp mustard (dry)
1 tsp salt
4 Tablespoons vinegar (I've been using apple cider vinegar)

Then, with blender still running, slowly drizzle in:

1.5 c vegetable oil

The whole process takes maybe a couple of minutes.  I love it when the mayonnaise suddenly emulsifies like blender goes zzzzzzzzzz, zzz,zzz,zzz,z...z...z...and it's done.

I have been experimenting with mixtures of oils (such as half safflower, half sesame; half olive, half sesame, etc.) and also various types of salt.  So far, each batch has been different and each has been good!

When I used olive oil, the consistency remained a bit thinner (there was no z...z...z), but instead of tinkering with it, I decided it would be a fine component for a salad dressing if I didn't use it for sandwiches (which I did).  I wonder if olive oil made the difference?  It could also be the variable size of the eggs from my hens.  Will experiment further!
And here is the related "tip" - it's about breaking eggs, and it's something I heard in a recent podcast from David Leite, author of The New Portuguese Table.

I stumbled across David's blog several years ago, whilst spending hours googling in an attempt to figure out why my caldo verde (literally, "green soup") never seemed to taste quite the same as the caldo verde I ate nearly every day in Portugal.*

But no soupy sidetracking (or soupy twist!) here; back to eggs.  You probably already know that an easy way to remove eggshell fragments from a bowl of eggs is by using one of the shell halves as a scoop, right?  Just like an easy way to separate egg whites and yolks is by pouring the egg back and forth between halves of the eggshell, retaining the yolk as the white slips into a waiting bowl.  That thin, sharp edge of shell really does the trick.

But this new (to me, anyway) method of cracking eggs helps prevent eggshell fragments from the get-go.

Ready?  Here it is:

instead of cracking an egg against the edge of a bowl,
try cracking the side of the egg against a flat surface.

I know! 
Totally non-intuitive, right?
Sounds like a guaranteed way to make a horrible mess!

Well, I've been doing this for weeks now, and not only have I not made a mess, but I haven't had to scoop out a single shell fragment.

Hold the egg like this, and tap the side firmly against a flat surface.  I've tried using the kitchen counter, a flat plate, and the bottom of Piper's dish.
Guess which one was Piper's favorite.

The graphically-implausible result: instead of cracking roughly along a line (blue), the egg cracks in a sort of crater (yellow). I don't know why this works to prevent fragments. It may be physics. Or it may be magic. Like the mayonnaise.
If you decide to give this egg-cracking method a go, please let me know how it works for you.  I'm not sure if there if will be a difference in storebought and homegrown eggs, but maybe together we can gather some information.

Last but by no means least:
the two baby goats now have official names!

I like to choose names based on what is growing, budding, or blooming when the kids are born.  Violet's baby seemed to be born with her name, but it took a while to determine just the right name for Lily's baby.  Now they are both answering (well, sort of) to their names, so it's time to (re)introduce them to the blog.

With just a little bit of fanfare then...

tatata DA taDAHHHHH!!!


here with her mama, Violet

and Tsuga (with her mama, Lily of the Valley) 

Who is holding who in place? Hard to say. I think it's mutual.
Speaking of the kids, I know there has been a shortage of pictures lately.
I'm sorry.  It is not for lack of trying!

Remember when it was easy to get a fairly nice image?

Look!  It's a baby goat being still!!
It is much harder to get nice images of the kids at the moment, because now if I stand in the paddock they consider it an open invitation to climb up my legs, and if I am anywhere near their level, sitting on a rock for instance, they either climb up my back or leap without warning into my lap or even onto my shoulders.  Sambucus will sometimes sit quietly for a minute or so, but Tsuga is simply explosive.

A few days ago, in a last-ditch effort to get her in focus, I tried holding her on my lap with one hand while I held the camera in the other hand.  Rookie mistake!!  Tsuga sat still for a couple of shots, happily chewing on my scarf.  Two seconds after this picture was taken, she suddenly threw her head back and caught me right across the throat with her little rock-hard skull.  Before I could move, she flung her head the other way and got me full on the mouth.  Why?  She was trying to see what was behind her.  Because it might have been something interesting.  Tell you's really, really hard to get a good picture of the kids at the moment!

*  I never asked David about the soup (I think I may have been a bit shy about commenting on blogs in those days) but after extensive experimentation I have since come to believe the reason my caldo verde doesn't taste the same as the caldo verde I ate in the Ribatejo is because I am eating it in Massachusetts.  Further research is clearly in order.

P.S.  Still a couple of days left to enter the May Giveaway! Good luck :)