Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lent and Eggs

For me, hard-boiled eggs have always been a big part of Lent. They are the obvious sign of Easter, when we'd make our way through the two or three dozen we'd dyed and decorated, but I also associate them with the six weeks before. I suppose it has its roots in my mother's worries that we wouldn't have anything "meatless" when the time came. Although we always had plenty of options-- we could count on the treat of frozen fish sticks, macaroni and cheese or tuna noodle casserole on Fridays-- these were the days when there were no vegetarians (or at least no one we knew). It seemed an enormous challenge to cook without meat, even just one day a week. We had to be fortified with proteins of other sorts or we might just collapse.

So it was we ate extra peanut butter (on celery sticks, on crackers) and there were suddenly soft-boiled eggs at breakfast and hard-boiled eggs in our lunches, if no egg salad sandwiches were available. I'm not a big egg person, and still kind of use them at brunches to balance the effects that the maple syrup and gluten will have on me later in the day if I don't eat something real along with it. I don't think to boil up eggs or make egg salad. This has changed a bit since we now have chickens on the farm and a steady supply of lovely, brown, organic eggs. They just aren't on my radar.

This is why I've been delighted that Steve has started hard-boiling eggs. It seemed to begin right after Ash Wednesday, the bowl of eggs appearing in the fridge. This morning when I went down for breakfast there was another batch on a towel, as if recently gathered during an Easter egg hunt. Their color reminds me of the eggs we died the year I was at the Collegeville Institute. There was a Czech family there who shared with us their tradition of decorating eggs by boiling them in a pot with onion skins. If you're interested, I've embedded a video that shows you how to do it below. And of course, they're just about perfect food. Portable, substantial, and more or less good for you. Egg salad on toast is perhaps my favorite sandwich, with a little dill, scallions and relish mixed in especially.

Steve also (strongly) encouraged me to give up chocolate for Lent. Unfortunately, the first week of Lent coincided with a really bad bout of perimenopausal PMS, and chocolate is basically medicinal for that condition. But Steve is kind and he had said right up front that a cup of hot chocolate wouldn't count. I made it through with only one real lapse. Yesterday, we had a good talk about the second week of Lent and its challenges, basically the feeling that you've kind of done it, you get the point, and what would it matter if you had chocolate (or x, y, z) now. The rationalization stage. So I'm finding that, although I'm not big on "giving up things" for Lent, I am finding the shared experience of it kind of interesting and worthwhile. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy the eggs.

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