How NOT to Boil an Egg

eggmemescomp2thisisfunnybecauseitcombines_a98ccd_5487988I love boiled eggs. They’re the perfect, portable, high-quality protein snack whose reputation has been quietly redeemed in the past few years… I love them so much, I don’t even need to salt them when they’re cooked right.

But cooking them right is trickier than it sounds. Too little, and your yolks come out gross and runny. Too much, and you get that overdone “egg-y” flavor assaulting you with its sulfur funk. You can’t tell, either, until you’ve already opened up the egg and ruined it.

After years of experimentation, I thought I’d finally found the perfect way to boil eggs. It goes like this:

  1. Put your eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to bring the waterline about an inch or so above the eggs
  2. Heat on high until the water starts a rolling boil
  3. Turn the water off, cover the pan, and let sit for 17 minutes
  4. Pour off the hot water, add some cold, and peel the eggs once they’re cool enough.

This method gave me fantastic boiled eggs: bright yellow yolks that were done without being overcooked in the slightest… well-cooked eggs with perfectly clean finishes.

It worked BEAUTIFULLY until I moved to a new house with a new stovetop that threw everything off. You’d think boiling=boiling, yet I kept ending up with an off-putting, jelly-like yolk consistency.

After getting thoroughly grossed out by my guinea pig eggs, I started boiled them for several more minutes, whereupon I was unable to peel them without taking out huge chunks of egg white. Essentially, everything but the yolk cemented to the peel.

So I began consulting Google, where I learned that adding a little baking soda to your water would make it easier to peel eggs after boiling but would also lend an aged, “egg-y” flavor, which hardly sounded like an improvement.

I also learned that there lots of experts on the internet who think they know the best ways of boiling and/or peeling eggs.

And I’m not one of those experts, though I can definitely tell you about one method you shouldn’t try:

Never, ever microwave an egg.

To explain why, let’s just start by pretending there was a hypothetical woman who really loved good hardboiled eggs…

Let’s just say she was in high-school when she once tried to hard-boil a couple of eggs on the stovetop, but miscalculated the time and ended up finding out her peeled eggs have gooey centers when she tries one.  Her eggs are almost done, but not quite.

Say her father then suggests she microwave the other egg to cook it just a tiny bit more. She asks him how much time he thinks would be sufficient and he suggests about thirty seconds.

mushroomcloudLet’s further say she microwaves her egg for thirty seconds and bites into it once it’s cool enough to handle. Half-closing her eyes in anticipation of a perfectly-cooked, hardboiled egg, she instead ends up peeing herself as an ear-shattering gunshot explodes in her face when a nuclear egg event blankets the 3-foot radius around her in white particles, because she’d apparently just split atoms by throwing eggs into the microwave and will later have some pretty embarrassing mouth blisters to explain at school.

So… don’t ever try microwaving whole eggs to hardboil them. Hypothetically speaking, it’s probably not a good idea.

But I am curious about trying this baking method, despite the authors talking about it leaving weird red spots all over your eggs’ insides. I’m not sure what would cause that and frankly, I’m a little scared to find out.

At any rate, does anyone have a tried-and-true method that works for them? What about the problems with peeling hard-boiled eggs without the egg whites sticking to the shell?

Clearly, I could use some help.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sly Like a Fox: How An Alpha Dad Conquered the World of Fairy Farts

I really don’t think we give dads enough credit for parenting prowess.

dadOf course I’m talking generalities here, but just look at all those comedy films about inept fathers tragically left to watch the kids… all by themselves. The poor fools always end up fumbling the job, pouring waffle batter into the toaster oven while an ominous mountain of bubbles creep out of the laundry room.

And I’ll admit to occasionally gritting my teeth when catching my husband John swinging our kids around by their ankles. Watch her HEAD, I silently scream while every muscle in my body clenches. Do you have ANY IDEA how long it took me to MAKE THAT?

Except the kids are in hysterics and he hasn’t brained them once. Children are full of all these weird qualities, like boundless energy and endless optimism, and probably need to be occasionally swung around the room at breakneck speed. Maybe dads are just reckless enough to make it happen.

But a questionable regard for safety isn’t the only great thing dads bring to the table, they can also cut straight through all the Attachment Parenting BS with truly impressive Alpha displays.

legofootFor example, now that our kids are almost 3 and 5, I’ve decided it’s high time they start cleaning up after themselves. I’m tired of exploding Legos and My Little Ponies covering every inch of our house.

However, this has been a painful, months-long struggle, each victory measured in inches like the battles of WWI. Between consistent instruction, patient explanations and occasional timeouts, I’ve managed to move the kids from screaming “NO!” while running in sideways floor circles, to spending an hour logrolling across the carpet to spit single Legos back into their boxes, to finally cleaning up their messes after only being reminded several times.

And then this weekend, I watched John using the oddest approach to enlist our kids into cleaning the house…

It went like this:

John grabs our 4-year-old daughter Brontë, handing her a garbage bag then taking her outside to point out all the pink dog-bed fluff-balls that our lunatic dog had been shredding across the yard

John: Alright kid, your job is PICKING UP ALL OF THESE FAIRY FARTS!

Brontë: But I don’t… I’m scared to…

John: YOU’RE PART OF THIS FAMILY AND OUR FAMILY ISN’T SCARED OF ANYTHING. ESPECIALLY FAIRY FARTS.

Brontë: Well, I don’t wanna…

John: Quit being such a PRINCESS, because being a princess only makes MORE FAIRIES COME FART IN OUR YARD.

Brontë: I’ve got…

John: LESS TALK, MORE FAIRY FARTS.

And what do you know, but it worked. She started laughing uncontrollably while gathering pink fluff-balls.

So there’s something to be said for unconventional dad methods. Our house is now completely fairy-fart free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Reverse Psychology Works On Vikings

Ah, parenting… that stage of life where you not only have to force yourself to exercise and choke down vegetables, but also convince people far less rational than you to do the same.

Frankly, it’s hard not to give into peer pressure sometimes. Everyone in my house now campaigns for a steady diet of jellybeans and pizza… while I have to pretend that making yet another meal from scratch really does sound better than someone bringing melted cheese to my door.

But I figure the prevention of scurvy and colon cancer is part of my parenting duties, which means talking my kids into eating real food.

At first, I thought my older daughter Brontë was a tough sell. She could be defiant, especially around age 2, and would try refusing meals in favor of starchy snacks until we eventually starved her out…

But I was completely unprepared for Bridget.

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Freaking out after accidentally tying herself up with the front-seat seatbelt

We call her “Bridget the Viking.” She’s a blue-eyed blonde with a face so angelic that her cuteness made the doctors who delivered her gasp.

“I’ve delivered a lot of babies,” one told me, “And always say they’re lovely, even when they’re weird-looking, but she may honestly be the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.”

I was so flattered, having no idea I’d just birthed a Viking.

Bridget has a good heart and an overwhelming zest for living, but she was a lunatic from the start. She kept us up all hours with her berserker rage and was turning over furniture from the moment she started walking. There’s something about an angelic blonde baby throwing end tables across the room with freakish strength that just chills you to the bone.

Bridget’s independent streak borders on the self-destructive. She’ll refuse to do what you told her, simply because you told her to do it. She’d rather take the punishment than give up her options.

Bridget started drinking bottles of hot sauce just because she wasn’t supposed to. People were acting nervous about her tasting them, so her curiosity finally got the better of her… she once ate an entire packet of red peppers because her big sister yelled that she couldn’t do it, and she’s now turned drinking hot sauce into a party trick.

Don’t believe me? My cousin wasn’t sure. Knowing my penchant for hyperbole, she once dropped by my house armed with an extra-spicy bottle of habanero hot sauce covered in warning labels and just… casually… left it on a table to see what Bidgie would do.

Here’s the part we managed to capture:

I mean, what kind of thrill-seeking is this!? How will she keep topping this experience? She’ll be bungee-jumping while snorting moon rocks by the time she’s ten.

But while she’ll literally drink a cup of hot sauce, she won’t sit down to dinner for more than a few seconds before flipping around, impatiently yelling: “DONE!”

Because you’re supposed to sit down to dinner and Bridget’s chiefly motivated to do things she’s not supposed to do. Like work out elaborate schemes to stash chocolate chips in our couch cushions.

Well, having such a challenging kid has taught me a couple of essential truths about human nature. They are:

1) Having something taken away is more motivating than the opportunity to gain something of equal value

I learned this while attempting to manage Bridget’s constant bloodcurdling screaming in the car.

She doesn’t like being in the car, and sometimes we have to be in the car. So I had to listen  to her unfettered Viking berserker screams for months on end. Sometimes, they scrambled my brain so hard that I’m surprised I never hit anything.

I tried everything to stop her: talking her out of it, soothing her, yelling at her, trying to figure out what was wrong, turning on music, giving her a toy… nothing worked.

Until the day I took her toy away and would only give it back when she stopped shrieking. That worked like a charm. The Bridget-screaming-in-the-car phenomenon disappeared for good.

So… the same toy that didn’t make her feel any better when I first offered it to her suddenly became vitally important to not lose. This is human nature: we are more motivated by losing things than gaining something of equal value.

2) We value things more when we have to work hard to get them

Bridget’s inherently suspicious of anything handed to her or expected of her, but loves anything she had to sneak.

I guess it makes sense… A guy who’d stalk a deer for days, in pounding rain and bitter cold, before stashing it’s trophy head above his sofa would probably be disgusted by finding that exact same deer carcass left on his doorstep.

And so it is with Bridget the Viking, who is such a walking embodiment of the forbidden-fruit-tasting-sweeter principle that I finally incorporated it into her training.

I started hiding fruit around the house:

Bananas on the counter where she could barely reach them.

Grapes on plates, just inside the bottom cupboards.

It worked. I’d hear her quietly scooting a step-stool into the kitchen, a muffled rifling through the cabinets, and wild giggling as she made off with a grape.

She’d keep this up for hours, sneaking away whole plates of grapes and bananas that she’d left touched when I’d offered them at breakfast.

And after weeks of all but refusing dinner, she was sneaking into the kitchen last night to swipe bite after bite of the pesto lasagna I left cooling on the counter:

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The Giddy Pleasures of Being Deep in Sin

She was desperate for those bites, straining on the highest tippy-toes she could manage to grab spoonfuls of pesto pasta above her head and balance them all the back to her face. She savored every last one of them as though she’d been starving, rolling her eyes back in her head for several moments before scrambling to nab the next.

Until dinner was finally brought to the table, whereupon she took a couple of bites of pesto pasta before dropping her fork like it was on fire: “DONE!”

Why Parents Keep On Parenting

As many of you know, I recently wrote an article trying to explain baffling parenting behaviors which is currently being reamed throughout the childfree subreddit universe. challengeThe leading criticisms involve my failure to explain what makes children worth all the hassle, despite this never having been my article’s intention.

Well, that sounds an awful lot like a challenge.

And intellectual challenges can be downright fun. Just last month, I wrote an article about how every major American holiday glorifies one of the seven deadly sins and despite being a fan of Disney, I’m currently kicking around the idea of explaining the sick & twisted values many Disney films promote.

Yet picking up this childfree subredditers’ gauntlet will mean trying to explain the inexplicable, rationalize the illogical, and transform the uninitiated via hypothetical vision… this doomed quest probably has about as much chance of succeeding as inventing a mathematical formula for defining love.

Why do I say that?

Because despite all the arguments about needing to replenish the workforce or have someone to take care of you when you’re old, having kids still doesn’t make sense on paper: You put your body through a terrible ordeal, then spend many sleep-deprived years catering to an irrational being who must be constantly fed, soothed, changed, and trained into socially-acceptable behavior while fighting you every step along the way.

It really doesn’t seem like a good deal, right?

I have to imagine many childless people wonder if we secretly regret having children but aren’t allowed to admit it. That would make sense, except… most people who have a baby end up trying to have another one.

Why?

To be honest, most parents don’t need to work the reasons out on paper because they instinctively make sense. We already know we wouldn’t give up our children for anything. The only difficult part is explaining why we feel this way to people who don’t see the point.

But I’m about to give it my very best shot…

1) Because We Don’t Want To End Our Story

Many of the more strident childfree folks think we’re crazy for the pride we take in breeding, considering that every other animal on the planet has been breeding since the dawn of time.

But there’s another way to look at this.

Around 3.7 BILLION years ago, the first bacteria started teeming around dead rocks on a sterile planet. It was a miracle… that delicate bacteria turned into cells which evolved into amoebas who spontaneously mutated into fish, and so on, in an epic Darwinian battle of 10 – 14 million species, 99 % of which are now extinct.

flintstones.jpg

Every step along the way, from the first vulnerable flash of cells through the lumbering age of dinosaurs, though every geological shift and catastrophic extinction event, every fight for limited resources leaving trillions of disembodied enemies and starved animals in its midst, led to YOU… with your app-filled smartphone and instantaneous drive-through coffee options.

Over billions of years, countless generations fought off neighboring tribes and vicious animals while your foremothers gave birth without any pain relief, facing the potential of dying in unspeakable agony every time. They managed through famines, wars, and droughts. Nature selected the luckiest and best equipped over millions of years, each generation holding onto survival by the skin of its teeth, in hopes of passing along that torch one more time.

Up until you, who could either snuff out that unbroken line like a candle while vegging out to Netflix, or allow your story to keep playing on for thousands of years.

2) Because Looking Into Your Child’s Eyes Explains The Universe

We’re a complex species that’s invented everything from air-conditioning and bullet trains to vaccinations and space ships. We’re so far removed from our primate ancestors that it’s easy to forget we’re all still animals deep down.

That is, until someone who once wasn’t once there looks to you with the kind of ancient recognition that transcends space and time. At that moment, you become a god who doesn’t feel worthy, a flawed human being whose every move, perspective and judgment will affect the mind behind those shining eyes for as long as they’ll recognize anything.

And you’ll spend the rest of your life struggling to wield that overwhelming power in the face of your mortal confusion.

For moments, you realize that underneath the surface, we’re all still the same primordial beings driven by the same primal urges that have dominated everything from mice to giraffes since the very beginning.

Food, fear, love, sex, and death…that’s what it’s all really about.

When cats go into heat, they don’t understand the broader implications of what they’re looking for. They only feel an immediate urge, and why shouldn’t they? Take care of that urge and nature works out the rest.

mama.jpgAnd yet, the moment they have kittens, they collapse into purring, snuggly heaps. They’re not only primed to nurture those kittens, but willing to do anything and everything to protect them despite having no socially-trained biases toward doing the “right” thing. Same with Mama bears. Same with dogs, or wildebeests, or hyenas, or any other mammal on the planet.

Sure, some animals will abandon or even eat their young, but only for specific survival purposes, unless they’re insane. No species that fails to nurture its offspring lasts very long in this epic Darwinian survival battle.

And we’re no different. Whether it’s caring about getting a promotion, trying out the latest mascara, or shelling out our hard-earned cash to buy the latest BMW after noticing the airbrushed beauty in the ad, the grand puppet master beneath the surface remains our overwhelming need to pass on our genes.

The invention of birth control may temporarily obscure this fact, but it’ll smack you square in the face from the first moment you look into your newborn’s eyes.

3) Because Love Matters More Than Money

People with pets live longer than those who don’t have them.

Now, I don’t want to  get off on some tangent at this point, arguing about whether having pets is actually similar to parenting. You could make a good case for pets being easier to deal with and I wouldn’t disagree… you can’t leave kids at home with some food and water while you go out partying with your friends and kids will definitely challenge your authority in much more ingenious and creative ways.

dog baby.jpgBut my question is: why do people choose to have pets at all? You have to clean up their poop while shelling out your hard-earned money to feed them, fix them up when they’re sick, load up on flea-prevention methods and compensate for any damage they caused to your apartment.

So unless your particular pet is literally earning its keep, the math of pet ownership also doesn’t work out on paper. What do you get in return?

Companionship. The belief that you matter to someone, that someone loves you and cares if you ever come home. It’s enough to add years to your life and the same reason Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is considered a tragic figure, despite having all that wealth.

Now, I realize that many people will still be tempted into making arguments about why cats or dogs are better than children, but that’s not my point. My point is that intangible factors make an enormous difference to our happiness. Even if your dog is awesome, he still represents a net loss of money and freedom.

As do kids.

Yet, people still want them.

4) Because Kids Aren’t “Cool”

And I say that with the utmost respect.

They don’t care about listening to independent bands no one’s heard of and won’t decide whether to like you or not based on your music collection or the stylishness of your clothes. They also won’t be disgusted by your overeagerness to be with them.

Because kids like what they like, unafraid of anyone judging them as they tear off their clothes and scream while running around in wild circles. They’ll unabashedly worship Mickey Mouse and take more delight in chasing bubbles than you’ll probably ever take in anything again in your entire life.

Sure, this disregard for public opinion can be an inconvenient quality, like when kids start throwing spontaneous, epic tantrums about such unbearable oppressions as having to drink water out of cups that are red…

But it also brings a lot of unbridled enthusiasm to the table, because kids don’t yet get the appeal of all-encompassing, world-weary blasé.

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Kids haven’t been burned yet, so they don’t affect quasi-sophistication by keeping others at a distance or automatically assuming everything’s going to end in doom.

Kids don’t understand that running along a beach is free, so you’re not supposed to revel in feeling the sand beneath your feet or giggle about chasing seagulls until they fly away.

Kids appreciate the simple pleasures in life like the amateurs they are, not understanding that anything harder to come by is supposedly better, or that the highest mark of intelligence is a default stance of misery.

What idiots, right? Except that most people are nostalgic for childhood. Whatever reminds them of that time before cynicism sucked their souls into crispy husks remains strangely compelling.

Children help bring that back. They even appreciate you at your very dorkiest.

A joke that bombs with other adults will make your children choke with laughter. My kids find it downright awesome when I make car sounds while pushing them around the grocery store, telling them we’re about to head down “cheese street” for more cheddar. They know all about Cerealopolis and the hidden valley of Cheerios.

It doesn’t matter if I do this in yoga pants with my roots coming in and countless grown-up observers assuming I’ve lost my mind… my kids might randomly grab these judgey strangers while yelling “GROCERY MONSTER,” and I can’t help but chuckle as the unexpected contact makes the grabbed adults go rigid.

My kids help me escape the prison of caring about “cool.” I can appreciate the simple things in life without feeling simple-minded. The ecstasy they feel in just being able to run at full speed toward a squirrel is infectious… and the unclouded observations they bring are profound.

I know that someday my children are bound to have to have problems with my lack of coolness, finding me embarrassing and having issues with my selected style of jeans. It’s because they’ll need to feel independent, having to go through many stages to achieve that end.

And I know I’ll make many mistakes along the way, despite trying my best. And they’ll be angry about them.

But no matter what, on some level they’ll still want my approval.

Because no matter what, they want me to love them. There is no trial period. There is no baseline of hipness for me to satisfy. It was a done deal from the first moment we met.

This is unconditional love in its truest form and I’ll try my very best to be worthy of it.

5) Because They Make Us Better People

While I’m not saying kids are the only way to become a better person, I do think they generally have this effect. Because children teach us at least as much as we teach them…

You learn to be patient.

You learn to value someone else at least as much as yourself.

You learn to have faith in your choices because you’re forced to make decisions even though someone’s bound to criticize your every parenting move. But you can’t just run away, so you learn to deal with it.

Even better, you learn to appreciate deeper layers of your world…

You know how you always notice more details when watching a movie for the second time? Well, watching kids learn about the world is like reviewing life all over again.

And when you consider life, you could just as easily make the same arguments about it not working out to our benefit on paper as you do with having kids.

For what is life, if not an endless series of waking up before we want to and fighting irritatingly slow traffic to get to boring, routine jobs that probably wouldn’t miss us, then coming home to figure out dinner before settling in at night to rinse and repeat?

We get older and older, struggling through fatigue as we watch our bodies break down and our dreams of changing the world elude us. Why not just collectively put our heads in the oven to escape the endless cycle once and for all?

In the end, it’s not the big things that keep us going, but the simple pleasures… something funny that a friend once said. A steaming croissant we once ate on a chilly morning at sunrise. A perspective-changing talk we once had over wine at a moment when we’d almost started believing everyone else was evil.

And kids bring these moments of clarity back. They claim to have just turned into a mermaid, except you blinked and missed it. They try teaching the cat to walk. They ask you where China is and if you’d like to take them there someday.

They bring you out of the world you thought you knew to remind you how it’s all still a mystery.

They’ll make you feel irreplaceable.

Because you are.

In the most unique yet boring ways.

My Childfree Post Hits a Nerve

Stephen King once said that if you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society will be numbered.

And I’m finding his point reassuring as I watch my 5 Points I Want the Childfree to Consider article get shredded across the childfree subreddit community.

I’ve never spent much time on Reddit, to be honest. It’s the virtual Mos Eisley Cantina: a wretched hive of scum and villainy where hacked-off limbs barely rate second glances, a den of anonymous hostility and unbridled trolling…

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“We don’t serve their kind here.”

Still, you can’t help being curious when people are talking about you. It’s gratifying to have written anything interesting enough to warrant its own discussion threads, even if those threads mostly consist of people wanting to kill it with fire.

You need thick skin to speak your truth. But in my case, constantly wondering whether my critics even read the article softened the blow. Defeating my logic might’ve been devastating, yet my critics seemed far more interested in contradicting points I never actually made.

The two most common complaints were that I:

  1. Think everyone should have children because anyone who doesn’t is a bad person, and
  2. Didn’t convince them that parenting is wonderful enough to make them change their minds.

It’s actually quite baffling, since I directly said that choosing not to have children is a  reasonable, respectable choice that society should accept.

And if I’d wanted to talk people into the glories of parenting, I definitely wouldn’t have used public tantrums and the lack of American leave benefits as major selling points…

I’ve always tried to be very honest in my blog, never pretending that every aspect of raising kids is wonderful or that it doesn’t sometimes challenge you to the very limits of your emotional and physical well-being. Yet despite the entire nature of my article being the need for greater empathy on both sides, I’m just left feeling as though I’d sold out the whole parenting experience.

Apparently unable to grasp the idea of neither side being “wrong,” these critical subreddit members seemed more interested in either having their own choices validated or being convinced to change their minds.

And since they don’t understand why anyone would want children, they can’t be talked into reconciliation.

So maybe a different approach would help. In my next article, I’ll try explaining why so many of us believe parenting is worth the hardships.

 

A Followup Childfree Interview at The Rinky-Dink Life

snotHello, gentle readers! Sorry I’ve been out of touch (too out-of-touch to even wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy new Year) but my family came down with a wave of nasty sickness for the past week.

I’m sure other parents will know what I’m talking about, here. We all love our kids to pieces, but they really are walking petri dishes sometimes, what with all the touching and chewing on every random object they see. It’s sink-or-swim challenge to everyone’s immune system, I suppose.

In the meantime, I was contacted by the lovely Brittany at The Rinky-Dink Life for an interview. She writes a fantastic blog about the childfree lifestyle, which made it all the more surprising that she wanted to speak to a mommy blog author!

Apparently, she was intrigued by my last article, 5 Points I Want The Childfree to Consider, and wanted to ask some followup questions. She wrote up the interview here and I encourage you to check it out and leave feedback.  She’s an excellent writer who had many interesting questions and I think starting dialogues between parents and people without children is a great idea.

And I also hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas ( or Hanukkah, or Solstice, or winter break) and a very Happy New Year!