A bit of nostalgia, through a technique: the way my Granma cooked scrambled eggs

As I was fixing myself some scrambled eggs for my breakfast before work, I realized that this method might be lost to the ages if it wasn’t written down somewhere.

My Granma and Granpa had a simple, 2-story house on the corner of a half-block. To one side was a dirt and at one time, dirt-and gravel alley. Next door, backing up onto the alley, was a small rental, with a ‘permanent’ renter – a good guy who maintained the rental and was never late with a payment. In between was a 120-year-old Gravenstein apple tree, that in the fall gave the most tart apples you’d ever puckered your lips around. We actually had to put salt on them to be able to eat them raw. But they were good for applesauce, pies, and Thanksgiving stuffing. Across the alley from my Granma’s house was a modest, medium-size house, which took up the other corner. Next to that house was my Granpa’s garden, workshop, and chicken coop. So the land they owned was sort of backward L-shaped.

We lived about halfway across town, about two blocks from the Northern Pacific’s main line. In those days, the trains ran 95 MPH through town for mail, passengers, and express, and about 75 MPH for freight. Our little town wasn’t a very important stop between the major cities, but because there was no Interstate Highway system in those times, most everything came by train. The NP would set out a block of cars, and pick up the empties, and a little local switcher handled the local setouts.

I know now from the sound that the local switcher was a GP7; I’d be lying in bed on a warm evening and I could hear the crew shunting cars: “radda-radda-radda-RADDA-RADDA-RADDA (from the diesel) then a pause …. then ROW-OW-OW-ow-ow-ow (from the dynamic brakes), then another pause … then SLAM-SLAM-SLAM-slam-slam… as the couplers came together and the slack came out of the cut of cars.

But the fun came on Saturday mornings. I was an early riser – much earlier than the rest of the family – and so were my Granma and Granpa. To keep me from waking up the entire house, I was allowed to ride my bike across town to their house for breakfast. Because they kept chickens, there was always eggs of some kind for breakfast. Most often they were scrambled.

And this is how my Granma did it: She’d take a little bacon grease from the jar on the counter near the stove (why use butter when bacon grease is free?) and throw it in to a medium-low heated cast-iron pan*. Next, she’d crack in a couple eggs, and just let them sit while she threw away the shells and got a fork out of the drawer. By the time she got back to the pan, the whites would be half-cooked, and then she’d throw in a pinch of salt and a BIG pinch of pepper, and scramble all together. She’d cook them until they were dry (“I always liked my eggs dry”) and then they’d go on a plate with a tiny piece of butter on top, along with a piece of nice, meaty bacon and a piece of tan, buttery, toast. That, ‘Mighty Mouse’, and ‘Heckel and Jeckel’ was my Saturday morning.

So here’s a modern take on this:

Warm up a pan on medium-high, and put either a teaspoon of grape-seed oil or an appropriate-sized pat of butter in it. Crack in two eggs, and squirt a teaspoon of Ranch dressing (“light” is OK, but “non-fat” will break badly), put a pinch of salt, and a large pinch of pepper on top, and then wait.

Yup, wait. Wait until the whites of the eggs are about one-third cooked, then grab a salad fork and scramble all together. Cook and continue scrambling until they’re to your desired degree of doneness; I like mine a bit on the moist side. Plate and top with a small piece of room-temperature butter.

You’re going to be amazed at the taste and texture of these eggs; it’s nothing like you’ve had before if you’ve always had your eggs mixed in a bowl and then dumped in the pan to scramble.

The nifty thing is that they don’t come out quite exactly the same every time, and that’s the beauty of doing eggs like this – they’re always a little different each time, but always a pleasure on the palate.

I grabbed a quick snapshot so you can get an idea of how they turn out. Enjoy!

 

Here’s how they tun out. You can see how the texture is quite different. Wheaton, the Golden Retriever, is concerned he won’t get a sample!

 

 

*Now this is the thing about cast iron, if you’ve never used it – you use a much lower heat (roughly half) because it not only retains heat better, but it spreads it better. There’s an old saying: Cast cooks fast! But it requires a bit more care in cleanup and storage (and well, it’s heavy), but aluminum can go through a dishwasher and is easy to store.

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