You Will Like These, Sam I Am

Hello and welcome to Week 12! With Easter right around the corner, I thought that this would be a great time to cover off some life hacks related to eggs.

This week’s post will help you decide what to do with those vividly-colored eggs crowding your fridge come Easter Monday. After all, you can only eat so many egg salad sandwiches. What do you do with them? You make pickled eggs.

On the Counters of Small-Town Bars Everywhere
Okay now, I can hear what your inner voice is saying right at this very moment: “Pickled eggs??? Is she kidding me? Yecch!” And you know what? For the first thirty-odd years of my life, I would have been right in there with you. I’d seen pickled eggs – floating around in a big jar in every small-town bar I’d ever been in, looking like some kind of aquarium experiment gone horribly wrong. But I’d never actually tasted one, until someone offered me a pickled egg as an appetizer at a semi-upscale dinner party.

Since there was no polite way to refuse, I tried it. And was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. They have the tangy taste of vinegar and none of the weird sulfuric aroma I’d expected. Not long after that, I learned to make them myself.

What? No Recipe?
To my surprise, I couldn’t find a single cookbook in my home library this week that had a pickled egg recipe. But that’s minor, since I have my own. It’s an adaptation of one that came to me by way of the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Fire Department and I’ve been using it for the last ten years.

The Most Comprehensive Cookbook. Ever.
I don’t know if I’ve convinced you to try this particular life hack yet, but let’s start at the beginning. Even if you don’t try making pickled eggs, you’re still going to leave this week’s post with valuable knowledge. First, we’ll learn how to make perfect hard boiled eggs.

The place to find this priceless secret is on page 122 of “The New Best Recipe”. If you’ve never seen this cookbook, it’s worth a stroll to your home library just to check it out. “The New Best Recipe” is the most comprehensive book on cooking I’ve ever seen (with the possible exception of “Larousse Gastronomique”, which is the great-grandad of them all.)

“The New Best Recipe” was compiled by the staff of “Cooks Illustrated” magazine, who obsessively test versions and methods of classic American recipes until they are certain that they have found the very best recipe and the very best method. And they’re not fooling around — this cookbook is more than 1000 pages long. It’s a go-to resource for cooking pretty much anything.

So, of course this is where you’d look for the foolproof way to make (and peel) hard-boiled eggs. For pickling, it’s important that you boil them long enough that the yolks are firm — but not so long that they turn gray.

Fast-Forward to a Fridge Full of Eggs
So here we are on Easter Monday. You made a dozen perfect hard-boiled eggs, the kids turned them into a psychedelic rainbow of colors, they’ve been hidden, found again and now they’re in the fridge. What next?

First, peel a dozen eggs, following the instructions in “The New Best Recipe”. This is a nice touch — a well-peeled egg is more appetizing than one that looks like it’s been in a knife fight. Then combine these ingredients in a non-reactive pan:

  • 2 cups of vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried chili peppers

Open a window in the kitchen and boil this mixture for 5 minutes. Fill a 1-liter canning jar with boiling water, dump it out again (this will sterilize it) and put in the eggs. Fill it to the top with the vinegar & spice mixture, ensuring all the spices get into the jar. Let it cool, put a lid on it and pop it into the fridge. Wait 5 days to sample your eggs, and eat them up within 30 days.

Don’t Be a Chicken
So … ready to try this out? Oh go on, take a risk! I can almost guarantee that you won’t be sorry. Pickled eggs are fabulous on seed bread and while I don’t have scientific proof to back me up, I’m pretty sure the homemade version has way less sodium than commercial ones (340 mg each), which makes them a reasonably healthy high-protein snack.

The Numbers
You can make a batch of a dozen pickled eggs for about $4.93. (Buy the spices in the bulk section, and you’ll spend about 25 cents per batch.) By comparison, store-bought pickled eggs are a whopping $9.49 a dozen. Your homemade ones are half the price and a lot better for you.

“The New Best Recipe” is $24.44 at amazon.ca and $25.73 at chapters.indigo.ca. That’s an average of $25.09 saved by borrowing the book, plus $4.56 saved on every batch of pickled eggs you make. Together, that brings this week’s Library Life Hack savings to a total of $29.65. Cha-ching!

Resources

The New Best Recipe
Written by the Editors of Cooks Illustrated
Published by Best Recipe Series
Released Nov 17, 2004
ISBN 0936184744

Check-Back
This past week, I also tried out the first of several productivity hacks, as outlined in “The 4-Hour Workweek”. You can find the interesting results here.

And that’s it! Next week, we’re going well off the beaten path, as I take a crash course in writing poetry with American Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Pretlusky. Happy Easter!

P.S. About that sweater from Week 8. I didn’t pick up the sticks this week. A reader has suggested this as the solution. I think maybe she’s onto something.

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