A Return to the Mundane

by Marina Chotzinoff

All hail November 7th! Though I am still getting just as many political emails as ever (ignoring) it is nice to have the elections behind us. A friend on Facebook pleaded for a return to the mundane. Photos of kids in silly outfits, cute baby animals, food we are cooking or eating. Anything but red and blue maps, infographics, finger-pointing, bragging and blaming. I hear that loud and clear and so here is what I ate today (so far)…

Breakfast: cracker eggs. A weird “specialty” my Uncle Herb used to make for me when I was a little kid visiting in the summer on Long Island. In a home just a highway away from the ocean, that, miraculously, survived Sandy with not much more than a bit of water in the basement. My uncle’s usual job was cleaning up and loading the dishwasher— a task only he was allowed to do. But this was, apparently, the one dish he could make and he took it pretty seriously. A riff on french toast, it used the ever-present saltines in lieu of bread. The little red plastic and wire cracker sleeve closure thingy being saved by my Aunt for “terribly-useful-stocking-stuffers.”

The eggs are whisked until frothy while a good-sized puddle of butter is melted in a pan. The saltines are then dunked in the eggs and placed in the pan filling as much space as possible. The eggs are poured over the crackers, the pan tilted to cover every nook and cranny. Once set, the pan is flipped to brown the other side, then the cracker eggs are slid onto a plate. My Uncle would serve them with jam which was often a homemade concoction from heaven knows what year, a horrible skin of sorts having been removed prior to being set down in front of me. As a result I usually ate them as is with just salt and pepper.

It is not often I make these. Usually it is because I’ve run out of bread but somehow have saltines on hand. Today it was because, having thought a lot about Long Island recently, I decided to make them for my daughter, telling her a bit about my Uncle Herb as they cooked. I sprinkled ours with pepper and chives, but can see how they’d be equally good with a whap of strawberry jam.

For lunch I was happy to heat up some velvety carrot soup I had made Sunday for our soup club. It is a technique I learned form Modernist Cuisine’s Nathan Myhrvold in this recipe. Employing a pressure cooker and baking soda (to speed up the browning process known as the maillard reaction), the carrots first caramelize into a wonderful richness and are then blended with fresh carrot juice and butter to create a soup so silky, sweet and delicious.

I wanted to add a little substance to the soup and so I added roasted parsnips and meatballs made with pork, turkey, bacon, swiss chard and some ras al hanout spices leftover from this recipe. I think the spiced and garlicky meatballs balanced the sweetness well and made for a filling lunch.

    One comment on “A Return to the Mundane

    1. Regna on said:

      Hummm, cracker eggs eh? I may just have to try it; I’m surprised the crackers don’t get soggy. Wonder if my kids will eat them…

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