Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?
~ December 26 prompt
I confess: I’m not a foodie. I WISH I felt the passion for food and pouring over cookbooks that many of my friends do. But no. For me, food is mostly functional and when I’m enjoying a meal, it’s not the food I remember so much as the company.
However, there is a dish that’s inspired me this year: the humble and beautiful poached egg.
Don’t you just think there’s something so wholesome and wonderful about them? I do. The way they look, all imperfectly wrapped up in a swoosh of egg white. The perky-to-runny yolks (depending on preference). The many elegant ways of serving them – my current favourite is toasted English muffins spread with cream cheese, whole grain mustard and rocket leaves and topped with the eggs, cracked pepper and shaved parmesan. Yum!
The inception of my poached egg obsession was the very special day CK and I planned for Shiv’s birthday in Sydney on 1st January. Part of our plan was to make a picnic brunch, including the aforementioned eggs. Neither CK or I had much experience with them, but luckily I had chef-like friends who did!
So I watched keenly as one of my very good friends made our breakfast and days later at CK’s apartment in her tiny kitchenette, I was in the driver’s seat. The newly appointed Poached Egg Maestro! And call it beginners luck, but somehow that first batch worked out perfectly.
That’s when the real work began though: it’s all about the technique and being able to reproduce excellent poached googs on a moment’s notice.
So for many months of 2010, I’d make them for myself every weekend.
And here’s what I learned:
How to make awesome poached eggs
The first thing you need to know about making proper poached eggs is to use a deep frypan or a shallow saucepan. Add a dash of vinegar to the water and let it boil. Once it’s boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer so it’s not splashing hot water around violently while you try to slide your eggs in!
While you waited for your water to boil, you’ve already cracked open each egg into an individual cup (or do them one at a time and use the same cup). Use a spoon to make a whirlpool in the water and once you’ve got a good little funnel going, empty the egg into the middle.
It’ll swirl around for a bit before it gets down to the business of cooking. The artistry of poached eggs is in this part: how long you cook them for. The longer they poach, the less runny the yolk will be. But getting it right, understanding the way the yolk looks in its little white overcoat is something you can only learn through experience. By experimenting again and again.
Scoop your eggs out with a slotted spoon and (evil of all evils, I know) use paper towel to blot excess water off them. I’ve tried just letting them drain but it doesn’t work as well, unfortunately.
Arrange them to suit your tastes and serve!
Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
~ December 25 prompt
Can’t say I’m much for photos of myself. Never have been, actually. While I’m not sure if I’d be classified as having body dysmorphic disorder, the description sure sounds a lot like me.
The truth is that I’ve never been able to see myself clearly in the mirror or in photos. All I notice are my faults and it’s a rare day that I actually like a photo that I’m in (I am getting better with that however). So I’ve tended to avoid them in general.
It’s a thing that goes back to the years of my brother’s daily abuses. I’ve managed to work through most of the stuff he used to say and do, but not the stuff about how I look. The topic even came up unbidden in my last kinesiology appointment… it’s still alive and kicking.
My aversion to photos got an awful lot worse when I developed PTSD and depression – no prizes for working out why. Suffice to say there’s not a heck of a lot of photos of me from 2005-2010.
I know. It’s on my list of ‘stuff’ to deal with and my methods are yoga, meditation and kinesiology. Another thing I try to do is notice when I do think I look nice. I’ll eyeball myself in the mirror and say: Hey, I look really cute today! I know that might sound kind of vain, but if you’ve lived in my shoes then you’ll understand the necessity.
So this photo (a self-portrait with my iPhone) is very typical of my attitude to how I look and to having photos taken. Can I be in the shadows, please? Can we avoid looking too closely at my features? All of those things make me uncomfortable.
And that’s probably why I like yoga so much, too. Because it helps me see myself as a whole being – inside and out – rather than just an external image to fret over…
That said, there’s this other photo I took of myself a couple of weeks ago. As a self-birthday present, I’d just been to the hairdressers for the first time in over three months and with a new cut and colour, I was feeling pretty good about the way I looked. Which is rare.
Looking at my eyes in that photo, I can see a lot has changed. I’ve accepted an awful lot more. I no longer look as sad or desperate, and there’s a softness to my expression. It’s a mark of change, and it’s also a mark of turning thirty-nine. It’s the first photo I’ve seen of myself in a long time that I’ve liked.
And I’d show it you you but the thing is as a rule I don’t put identifying photos of myself up on this blog, sorry!