Remember that day you tried to watch Worst Cooks in America and you couldn’t stand to watch the chefs scrutinize the contestants’ fried eggs?
You turned the channel, muttering under your breath you had a hard time believing there were people out there who actually cared enough about fried eggs to pick them apart like that, and how lucky you felt that your wife knew how to decently fry one. I sat quietly, thankful you appreciate my cooking, and let you flip the channel back to the basketball game. But inwardly I sulked, for I knew the truth: I am no good at making fried eggs. Haven’t you noticed I usually ask you to fry them?
The heat is always too high. Then it’s too low. Then the whites stick. The yolks are too runny, or not runny enough. The yolks break and bleed and get cooked into a brown spider web of disaster. Even Eggs in a Hole are hard to perfect, and while you happily eat whatever sludge I slide out of the pan, the younger, pickier mouths in this family protest even the slightest deviation from their idea of a perfectly cooked yolk.
Clearly, fried eggs aren’t my idea of a quick and easy breakfast. But scrambled eggs? That’s a different story.
Before I met you, I mastered the art of egg scrambling by taking Julia Child’s advice and cooking those beauties at a low temperature. Making a tender, fluffy batch on Saturday mornings was my specialty, so much so that my roommates praised them and clamored for them nearly every week. The longer cooking time, while admittedly a bit of an annoyance, yields unparalleled results. For me, a reluctant egg eater in the first place, Julia’s technique changed me forever.
When you and I decided to get married, I was sure my egg-scrambling confidence equipped me to meet your every whim of “Breakfast for dinner, please!” with brag-worthy fare. And for the most part, it has. Except for when it comes to fried eggs. But we’re talking about scrambled eggs here.
Even so, my confidence was shaken a little just days into our marriage. We were on our honeymoon, starting our last day in Seattle at a quaint little basement cafe nestled beneath The Elliot Bay Book Company in Pioneer Square. I don’t remember the specifics of what we ordered that morning, except for the scrambled eggs with crème fraîche and scallions. They were fancy, and just the sort of simple and delicious that made us sure we could replicate them at home.
But then, we didn’t.
The idea came up over the years (meaning: you asked me to try to make them, but I put it off, afraid of ruining the memory of them.) But eventually, finally, I did it, and in the process, I learned something: I put off most things I really want to do because I am afraid: that I’ll make a mess of things; that it won’t measure up to my expectations; that I will fail. I learned I let fear paralyze me and keep me from trying new things – even something as small and insignificant as making scrambled eggs with crème fraîche instead of milk or water. I don’t really trust myself.
After I finally got over it (sheesh–they’re just eggs!), in making them made I realized I am far more capable that I give myself credit for, and when I try new things (not if, but when), I ought to approach them with the attitude that accepts mistakes as part of the learning process. And goodness – trying and failing is more important than not trying at all, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what we tell our kids?
As it turns out, it was not nearly as challenging as I had imagined, nor did I ruin our memory of our charming breakfast in Seattle. Instead, we can re-live that moment in the taste of those eggs whenever we want, really, since we can’t just pop over for a quick little breakfast on a whim.
I gather the bookstore has moved since then anyway, to a new location with a different sort of cafe, which while it may be delicious and charming in its own right, will never be our cafe, so to speak. But whenever I make scrambled eggs with crème fraîche at home, I am transported to that place and that time for a moment long enough to remember what it felt like to experience something familiar and new all at the same time.
I’m so glad I got over myself and tried something new.
Scrambled Eggs with Crème Fraîche
Inspired by the best eggs Joey & I ever had, this recipe elevates an ordinary breakfast food to something truly special. (I even made them for breakfast on Christmas morning when I was too pregnant to manage much else.) Crème fraîche (“krem fresh”) is really just unpasteurized heavy cream that is thickened by the good bacteria it naturally contains. Rich and velvety, it’s perfect for making these decadent eggs.
8 large eggs
4 oz. crème fraîche (plus more, for optional topping)
2 T salted butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 green onions, chopped (green parts only)
First, warm up a large skillet over medium-low heat and let the butter begin to melt. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, crème fraîche and salt. When the butter has melted, pour the egg mixture into the skillet. (I often use non-stick, so you will need to use more butter–say, 4 Tablespoons or so– if you are cooking the eggs in a stainless steel skillet.)
Let the eggs cook slowly, gently scraping up big fluffy curds as they begin to set. Do this until all eggs are soft-cooked: not runny, but still moist. When they’ve set, serve them warm, sprinkled with green onions. Top with additional dollop of crème fraîche if you want to be really fancy.