Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Egg poaching in the past tense

Someone who is as ill as me as often as I am, should not write a blog about food. It means that every six weeks there is a dramatic hiatus in service, while I lie quietly in a dark room with a damp flannel across my forehead breathing deeply through my nostrils.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I'm still ill and am not eating anything more complex than white and golden carbohydrates. For example, today I'm planning to eat some boiled eggs with white bread toast, then a fish finger sandwich and then later, maybe, one or two slices of a very plain pizza.

But if my desultory stint in newspapers, from 2004-2008, has taught me anything, it's that when it comes to writing, you can be there without actually being there.

You know around Christmas time, or around the August bank holidays, when you go out and spend £1 on your paper and it's filled with even more nonsensical shite than usual - a 6,000-word book extract about life in Soviet Russia/My Celibate Year/top ten tips for changing your career - ? It's because there's no-one at the paper. They've all gone home. The office is empty, except for the work experience girl whose name no-one can remember, who wasn't told that she didn't have to come in.

What they did in the week leading up to the holiday was to rummage around in the back of their computers and draw out, between thumb and forefinger, all the crap they commissioned on a whim during the year, which turned out to be too long, or boring, or too similar to something the Magazine ran the previous week, to use - and then they run it, switch off their computers and go badger-baiting, or whatever it is that commissioning editors do for fun when they're not telling me that my idea isn't "quite right". (Only kidding! Commissioning editors are the best!!!)

And this is relevant because this is exactly the stunt I am about to pull on you today and probably for a few more days, while my interest in most food remains a zero.

So here we go:

I discovered the other day the secret to poaching eggs. I am unable to poach eggs (see "Egg Poaching for Dummies" for more) and believed that the talent lay in some kind of chef-school magic. But it turns out, despite my protestations, that the eggs really do just have to be fresh - so fresh they're still almost warm.

My husband is filming a TV series at the moment about self-sufficiency and there are a lot of hens around the joint. And hens lay eggs. And they're put in a cardboard carton and brought back to my house, where I boil them and eat them with white bread toast.

But the other day, my husband decided to give egg-poaching a crack. Into gently boiling water, he carefully cracked an egg. And rather than just going "spoink" and gunging everywhere, it sort of folded in on itself and cooked in a neat little bundle for 4 minutes, at which point it was fished out and scoffed with brown bread toast and a lot of salt and pepper.

At least you didn't have to pay £1.


  1. Thanks for the hilarious newspaper insight. And for "spoink". I like Lakeland's silicone Poach Pods, though the resultant perfect dome isn't exactly natural-looking. Oh, and Get Well Soon.

  2. I was doing a search for quinoa recipes and found your blog - just spent a v enjoyable lunchtime reading it!
    Hope you are feeling better

  3. erm... fish-finger sandwich... you really can't grumble if that's all you can eat! ... oh and can we have a recipe for that please?

  4. Right, I need a chicken. I can't fing fresh eggs in this city for the life of me. Get better soon.

  5. My boyfriend has the egg poaching skill, no matter how old they are. When he once asked me to cook breakfast and I told him I couldn't poach an egg he looked at me like I am absolutely mad. In fact, he is mad, because he doesn't eat egg whites so he just poaches the little tiny round yolks for himself and they come out perfect (almost) every time. Creepyfreak.

  6. I've been 'lurking' reading your blog for a while. Must congratulate you on your amusing ramblings. Keep up the good work and get well soon.

  7. Urgh Imogen tell your boyfriend I HATE HIM. Only joking. Handy guy to have around.

    Great to have you here, Claire P. Come again soon xxxx

  8. I live in newfoundland, a tiny island on the east coast of Canada where nothing but turnip is fresh. Best tip ever for poaching eggs is to use a spoon to create a whirlpool in the pot so the egg whites wrap around the yolk.
    Vinegar in the water after it boils also helps.
    Ps. Fun blog. Different and relatable

  9. Looks like the perfect poached egg. I want to reach into the screen and eat it!

    Hope you're feeling better soon.

    Love the blog btw :)

  10. Hi Esther, I found your blog by accident but found myself addicted - its nice to know that I am not alone in my egg poaching inability. I have a constant supply of fresh eggs but my favourite way of eating them totally eludes me - Im going to give your advice a go...cheers

  11. ...that is one of the reasons why we need to get chickens! I keep on repeating it to my husband...:)