Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Egg-cellent Twist on an Old Favourite

"Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard-boiled egg."

-Anonymous (unfortunately!)

Some years ago, back in Goderich - my very small home town in Southwestern Ontario - I found myself seated amidst a group of strangers, at a long wooden table, in the basement of a church. We were all there for the 'lunch' following the funeral of an elderly woman we had known.

Now I can't speak for the rest of the world, but I do know that in small towns in Southwestern Ontario, the funeral lunches put on by the 'church ladies' seldom varies. There is coffee and tea served in dainty little tea cups, plates of plain celery and carrot sticks, a variety of small sandwiches (egg salad, tuna, and ham - all cut neatly into triangles) and a few trays of assorted cookies. Maybe even some gooey squares if the church ladies were feeling ambitious.

Well, we had 'enjoyed' our meager lunch and had endured the post-funereal chatterings with total strangers and yet, somehow, it felt a little rude to simply leave. And so, probably more out of boredom than hunger, the older woman across from me said - to no one in particular - "Welllllll.........I'd really like another ham sandwich, but I just don't feel like walking all the way across the room for one." At once, the very gentlemanly gentleman to her right chirped up. "Oh! I have an egg salad sandwich here which I haven't even touched and I would be happy to give it to you." "Why, thank you," replied the woman politely (but with a slight grimace), "but I just hate egg salad sandwiches."

But then, judging by the look on her face, she must have mentally heaved her body off the wooden chair, shuffled clear across the room to the food table and back, and had simply found it far too great an ordeal. She sighed a great sigh all of a sudden, then turned to the generous gentleman with a coy smile and said, "Ohhh.....maybe just a half!"

In many a church basement I've enjoyed those little sandwiches myself, and that is a very good thing because as an almost life-long vegetarian, they are always my only choice. But, I have to say, with all modesty, that the church ladies' offerings could not hold a taper to the deliciously upgraded version which I just recently created.

One evening last week I had made some hard-boiled eggs and decided to save two in order to make egg salad sandwiches for my lunch the next day. In the morning I started thinking about what I could add to make the sandwiches a little more nutritious and a little more interesting. Suddenly I remembered that I had some shredded carrots (about half a cup or so) left over from another recipe. I thought that sounded tasty and would add nice colour and texture as well.

But carrots are a little sweet and mayonnaise is rather sweet so I needed something that would add a bit of savoury zing. Well, fortunately my partner, Mark, always keeps a stash of olives in my fridge so I was happy when I saw the jar of queen-sized pitted olives stuffed with pimentos. What a nice combination, I thought; these will be delicious sandwiches. And indeed they were!

Because these delightful, crunchy sandwiches contain the addition of both green olives and shredded carrots, I have coined the name "Oliot". And whenever I say that word, my mind's ear hears only the highly memorable voice of "E.T." calling stridently for his earthling friend!

I hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it. This is what you'll need to do:

RECIPE FOR OLIOTS (Makes 2 or more, as you wish....)

2 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup shredded carrot
6 queen-sized pitted green olives stuffed with pimento
mayonnaise to your taste (always use real mayonnaise, the results are superior)
prepared mustard to your taste
season with salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Place 2 eggs in a saucepan half-filled with water and place on high heat. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp vinegar to the water. Watch the pot carefully until the water begins to boil, then turn the heat down to medium. Now it's time to watch the clock - for exactly 15 minutes. Then, remove the pot from the heat, place in sink and run cold water into the pot until the water in the pot has become cool. Leave the eggs alone for at least 15 minutes. Then, crack the shells and carefully peel them off, placing the hard-boiled eggs into a bowl. Mash them up finely with a potato masher and/or a fork.

Mix the rest of the ingredients into the eggs with (preferably) a wooden spoon. Spread some of the mixture onto a slice of nice, fresh, whole grain bread. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh alfalfa sprouts (more nutritious and more flavourful than lettuce) and another slice of bread.

These tasty Oliots can be served two ways: either spread quite liberally on thick, rustic bread to make 2 large deli-style sandwiches, or spread thinly (conservatively?) on more delicate bread and cut carefully into cute little triangles that would make a church lady proud.



PS: Please check out this "egg-cellent" site for wonderful egg recipes and so much more:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Will there be snacks?

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
- George Bernard Shaw

One of my very earliest memories concerns food. Or, rather, the unfortunate lack of it. I was about four years old and it was a warm and sunny autumn day. I think it was early on a Sunday afternoon. I was playing in the back yard of our home when my Dad called out to me saying he was going to take our dog for a walk in the woods and asking if I would like to come along.

I can remember so vividly wondering where these woods would be - how far away from home? I guess I was imagining various children's stories with 'the woods' as a backdrop. None of them was very comforting. So, I paused for a bit, then asked him in a rather quiet, hopeful voice, "Will there be snacks??" He smiled kindly. Then, he looked at me with his ever-so-patient manner, and replied, "Nooooooo, Diane. There will not be any snacks........ It's a forest."

What a pity! And here, now, from so far away in the future, I can remember my disappointment so clearly. No snacks. Hmmmm. The excitement of going for an adventurous walk in the woods was instantly diminished by the very thought of being so far away from my food source.

I find it somewhat amusing to realize how early in life so much of my personality was formed. Although I've always been fascinated with other peoples' adventures, I've gone on precious few adventures of my own. In the end, apparently, I've always somehow defaulted to choosing the comforts I know.

Like food. I really can't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed by food. Either thinking about it and revelling in it, or trying not to think about it and abstaining from it. But in either case, there is no doubt food has been a constant focal point in my life.

For years now, I have longed to become a food writer. But I could never decide how to go about it. I have no professional training nor special knowledge. I'm simply a person who loves food and the emotional world that accompanies it, and I am also a person who loves to write. How often have you heard that to be truly successful in life you must do what you love? A lot, right? So I'm going to do just that. I'm going to write about food.

I have no idea how many people will join me in this adventure, or if anyone will. But it will be a very exciting, challenging and fun adventure for me. And the one thing that I am completely sure of is this: There WILL be snacks!!