What’s On My Mindgrapes

in case you were curious



Last week, I started writing a rather depressing post about the miserable cold and my lack of enthusiasm for most things in life. The SAD was so much. Luckily I was too lethargic to finish, and I can now move on because SPRING IS HERE! So long, SAD. I had my first artichoke recently, and though it was pretty measly ($1.99) I’m looking forward to many, many more.

The coming of spring is about new life. Snow is melting, puddles are forming, bulbs are sprouting (as Jake S. identified as we walked the streets of Chicago this past weekend). This season ties with fall for my favorite. I love me some jeans and t-shirts, cool breezes, and sunsets I can stand outside long enough to appreciate.

The new life of spring also relates to food, as you could have guessed. Now is the time for baby lettuces, baby vegetables, asparagus, artichokes, peas, strawberries, and most other produce that can be described as “adorable.” Though my CSA box won’t come until June, I’m looking forward to getting my fill of seasonal goodies until they’re gone, then moving on to the next batch. Expect some episodes from my personal version of Iron Chef, in which I experiment with various vegetables I’ve never cooked with or even tasted before.

Until those new vegetables arrive, I invite you to consider the egg. It’s one of my favorite foods, as it can be fried, scrambled, souffled, omeletted, quiched, hard boiled, poached, and most importantly, benedicted. Eggs are cheap (recession!) and can feed one or many. And what’s more literally a symbol of new life?

Are you like me and think of your mother when you cook eggs? Not for thatreason, but I think of her scrambled eggs with salsa or this wacky container she used to poach her eggs in the microwave (blech). On a whim, I poached my own eggs on the stovetop and it worked splendidly. I followed Smitten Kitchen’s instructions and am no longer intimidated by the delicate orb that is a poached egg.


I’ll also share my favorite recipe for egg salad, which reminds me of college. I was studying abroad in Florence, the motherland of cuisine, and I remember eating my roommate Sarah’s simple egg salad with mayo and oregano. It was so simple, easy, and familiar in a city where food shopping was overwhelming. Our Aldi-like supermarket had a decent selection, but the language barrier prevented us from being 100% sure of what we were buying. You could come home with what you thought was yogurt, but was actually some other gloppy possibly-dairy product.

When I came home from Italy, I briefly worked at a catering company/deli which ended up closing (long story) but it served this delicious egg salad. The owner said she made up the recipe, but it was pretty much a carbon copy of Sara Moulton’s recipe on Food Network. It’s a flavor combination that works unexpectedly well. It can be made into fancy finger sandwiches or served over salad, or eaten right out of the plastic bowl you made it in.

Fancypants Egg Salad
Adapted from the Food Network, not the crazy lady I worked for

6 hard-boiled large eggs, peeled
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Mash eggs coarsely with a fork, then stir in shallot, tarragon, capers, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3 heaping servings.

Other egg salad variations: mayo and curry powder, mayo and mustard, chopped celery or pickles, pretty much whatever catches your fancy.

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2 Responses to “Sprung”

  1. March 18th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Margee says:

    Emphasis on “hard-boiled” eggs. Matthew made a soft-boiled egg salad once whose memory still makes me vomit in my mouth. And I only looked at it. Ugh.

  2. April 24th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Obie says:

    Nice class last night, and I look forward to more. I still don’t have your email address.

    Nice blog! I am commenting on this post because you have comments turned off on your later posts.

    I have a couple of personal comments. I gather you are Jewish, and I hope you don’t find my Christian novel to be offensive. A few Jewish readers from previous Loft classes actually liked what they read of the book. One of the themes is that Paul the Apostle,my protagonist, carries significant blame for the split that occurred between the Jesus movement and Israelite religion.

    I also note your positive blog post regarding Iowa and gay marriage. I wholeheartedly agree. I am kind of an expert on the Biblical issues, and it is my opinion that the conservative’s use of the Bible is misguided on this issue. I have taught classes to that effect. By the way, my novel portrays Paul as a conflicted gay man! I expect that the novel will drive the conservatives crazy.

    See you in class.