Monday, March 5, 2012

Balzac's Omelette and locavore fare

A guest post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

I used to wonder why we didn't have eggs more often around here. Then one day I overhead the Lady scolding the Man saying, "They're like buying gold. At $7. a dozen, you don't need to eat them every day." The Man is like me. When he likes something he can't stop eating it. He eats an egg almost every morning, and aside from chile rellenos in the summer, an omelet is the only thing that the Man cooks. The Lady humors him but never calls him a one-trick pony.

I not a fan of special occasion food because there isn't anything left on the plate when the feast is over. I know because one of my chores is plate cleaning. Sister Chloe and I wait in our crates until Management finishes eating. I lay on my side as if I could care less, but as soon as the door opens, I become a race horse. I fly to the kitchen, slide across the floor and quickly devour the treasures on the plate. On the day Management has eggs, I get a plate but the Lady tries to fool me with raw carrots and last nights cold dinner.

I'm not a whiner but could I at least have a bite of eggs?

Speaking of eggs, I found this book this past weekend and here's a news flash: there isn't a recipe in the entire book.

I tried to hide my disappointment as the shutter snapped. Let's just say I wouldn't make a great poker player. The Lady said, "Let's take a picture." I have learned exactly where to sit, and I can strike a pose for anything edible, even those delicacies from the yard beyond the human palate. But this was neither. I say we canine food assistants need a union. And FYI I did read this book, but I'm not over sharing my thoughts about it like a human.

What is the point of a review, except to brag that you read a book? Let me just say, aside from the food descriptions, my favorite sentence in the book was this: "At the end of a meal the butler became a stage manager looking after the sets for his play." A butler, that's what I must be because looking after the remains of a meal is what I do. I am a serious food model and am insulted when Management comes up with crazy props like books.

Speaking of modeling, some dogs have asked, "How did I learn such a profession?" I'm sharp, for one thing. Also it helps that people have low expectations of me. Who can't live up to "oh well, they aren't the brightest dogs on the block," kinds of comments. As for modeling, I went to school as a puppy and I learned my one trick so quickly we left before graduation.

Life is a breeze when expectations are low.

I'll tell you the story of how I learned my "trick."

Dog School and the One Trick Pony

I was doing just fine as a pup in this house, the geezer dogs in residence taught me the basics. My mentor Abe taught me to check every last cupboard door, pocket and bag until I find something edible. Sweatshirts with pockets are often streaked with my inquiries. And when someone leaves a plate unattended, Abe taught me to quickly clean it. Badger showed me how to make off with food from market bags and reminded me to eat as fast as I can so I can check another dog's plate. I also learned to be an emotional sponge for the Lady who over shares every problem, and let me just say it appears she has a boatload with all the hugs I get.

You'd think that's plenty, but humans are difficult to satisfy, and years ago the Lady insisted I attend something called "dog school." I had no say in the matter, so I went along with the program.

We drove to the dog school, which was a building in a park. I had no idea the humiliation that was coming my way as I hung my head out the window, letting the wind whip my ears back. When we arrived, the Lady and I joined a group of humans and dogs all attached to each other with leashes. I'd thought it was some kind of party, but I was forced to sit on a little towel, waiting for biscuits to be doled out. I wondered when we'd get to the "fun" part the Lady had promised but we never did.

We returned the next few weeks and it was always the same. The treats were excellent but the Lady was always very stingy. I was afraid the Lady wasn't learning anything and then one day the instructor came over said something to me. She held a biscuit over my nose and I leaped for it. She wasn't a good sport. She jerked my leash hard and snapped the biscuit away and she said, "Wait."

I leaped again. The same thing happened. I finally gave up, and wouldn't you know, the woman suddenly handed me a biscuit and said, "Good boy!" It was an epiphany for the lady. She'd finally learned something.

We didn't go back to the class again. Instead, we practiced "Wait." It was a great game, and I say, if you learn one good trick in life, it's enough. And it's more than enough when people have low expectations. I learned if I put my nose on the food, no one else was likely to claim it, either. Don't get me wrong, this is no easy skill, and Management reviewed it with me frequently. I got so good at it, I can now balance and hold a biscuit on my nose and snatch it in mid air. We didn't finish dog school, but we were only there for one trick.

I prefer to stare at food and wait, but I can wait anywhere, and here is what I've learned about humans in just one word--inconsistent.

For example, sometimes the location selection is puzzling. And I wonder what is the point of photos without food? Check this one: It's unsafe to roam the streets unattached to a human and a leash, but it's okay to pose for a touristy shot on the railroad tracks? Seriously, it's not just the politicians in this country who are inconsistent. (to be continued)

I digress. Back to the omelet and the recipe.

This one takes inspiration from Whatcom Locavore Nancy Ging. I read through all the recipes here. Oh how I'd love lick the crumbs from Nancy Ging's kitchen floor!

Her recipes come with a stand and a little calendar and each month has a recipe that features foods from Whatcom Country, Washington.

This was the recipe for January. The two main ingredients are eggs and shiitake mushrooms, from Cascadia Mushrooms. All I found in the market bags this week were greens, potatoes, eggs and shiitake mushrooms. Where were the carrots? It's a good thing spring is just around the corner.

It's sad when I'm the one considered slow and not very bright, yet I'm always waiting for someone who is chronically late with whatever food she mentions. Where is the food for this shot?

Also it isn't fair that I'm the labeled a one-trick pony when look who only cooks one thing in the kitchen. Plus everyone must leave the kitchen while the Man concentrates on his one trick. If I had thumbs I'd have more tricks than he does.

Tom's Mushroom Omelet (adapted from Whatcom Locavore)
(Serves 2)

2 cups sliced mushrooms, for shiitaki remove stems if large and save for stock
1to 2 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 to 3 cloves peeled garlic, sliced
4 extra large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water or milk
Chopped Mama Lil's Peppers to taste, or a pinch of ground chile powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Chopped avocado (optional)

1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dry fry the shiitaki mushrooms until they soften. The mushrooms won't lose as much moisture as button or crimini mushrooms.

2. Add half the oil, onion, red pepper and garlic. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until onions and garlic are lightly browned--6 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Beat eggs with water or milk. Stir in the Mama Lil's Peppers and sea salt. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and cook until the bottom begins to set. Using the spatula, gently lift the edges and tip the pan to allow the egg for pour underneath. Continue until there is no runny egg left. Stop moving the eggs and continue to cook until they are nearly done, but the top is not set and still looks moist.

4. Spoon the mushroom mixture on one half of the eggs. Gently run a spatula under the other half of the eggs and fold over the filling. Cook until the eggs are done, remove from heat. Garnish with salsa. Sprinkle with cilantro and avocado, if desired.

Toast bones again. Who was that jerk who coined the phrase 'beggers can't be choosy"?

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Finn,
It is great to see you again! This is a great dish that you bought us today, and we are glad that you left us some to enjoy. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Happy St. Patrick's Day and Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen