Those of you who are familiar with this blog will have noticed my frequent mentions of my wife Regina and my son Bennet. Family is very important to me and cooking together as a family is a wonderful way to forge deep bonds and to teach the importance of shared experience, shared meals, and learning how to take care of oneself.
Looking back on my own childhood I try to remember the first things I cooked. Eggs were probably the first thing I learned how to cook adequately for myself. Eggs or instant ramen noodles, for certain. I remember keenly the confidence it gave me to be able to feed myself breakfast or an after-school snack or even a simple dinner. And while it was many years later that I realized I wanted to cook for a living, those early experiences undoubtedly helped shape my life’s trajectory toward a life in food. It was not just the enjoyment of eating food, but the satisfaction I garnered from the manufacture of that food.
Frequently I’ve asked my seven-year-old boy to help me in the kitchen, with tasks beyond just setting the table. I’ve tried to teach him how to use a knife without fear, how to peel vegetables, how to use a can opener, how to spin lettuce dry, and other small skills. He’s assisted in making pies, in peeling shrimp, in making pancake batter, and in making hamburger patties.
But today he made his first dish all by himself. Yes, I talked him through it, and yes, I kept an eagle eye on him so he didn’t burn the house down or scar himself, but otherwise he made the major decisions and did all the work. And he acquit himself very well indeed. The eggs were delicious!
He cracked and whipped six eggs in a large stainless steel bowl. He wanted to add ham, so he used a small ceramic utility knife of mine to raggedly cut two slices of good boiled ham. He still has some lessons to learn about the proper way of handling sharp knives, but he’s making good progress.
Bennet wanted to add cheese so I offered him a choice between Longhorn Colby or American. He chose the American cheese and tore two slices by hand into little pieces.
He turned on the stove to medium-high and melted about a tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan. He added the scraps of ham and sauteed them by moving them around with a silicon spatula, a little clumsily but more than acceptably.
Bennet poured the beaten eggs into the pan and turned the heat down to medium. He seasoned the eggs with some cracked black peppercorns and about a half-teaspoon of fleur de sel.
Scraping the bottom of the saute pan with his spatula Bennet gently scrambled the eggs, and when they were almost totally set he added the bits of cheese. He scrambled the eggs for another minute until the cheese was totally melted and incorporated into the eggs.
The eggs were perfectly cooked, moist and flavorful, perfectly seasoned and nicely fluffy. We ate them with some toasted baguette smeared with Vermont butter and a few slices of Asian pear. It was truly a lovely breakfast!
Bennet was very happy to cook these eggs and to contribute to our meal. He did a great job and perhaps, just perhaps this memory will stay with him. He now knows how to make scrambled eggs.