Wake up! ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

20 August 2007

Wake up!

Time for breakfast:

Real scrambled eggs.

salt and pepper
very optional: whey

Heat up a frying pan. Swirl up some butter. You want butter.

Crack some eggs into a container suitable for mixing. Add salt and pepper. If you have whey lying around waiting to go bad, add a little of that too. Mix it up.

All the classical egg cooking technique people seem to want you to just stir the eggs lightly together. Er. No, I don't think I'm quite going to do that. I don't do very well with the chunks of stringy, albuminical white. That said, I don't beat my eggs into complete submission, either. I just mix until the white and yolk are clearly amalgamated.

When the pan is medium hot and all the butter is melted, add the eggs. Start stirring. Do not stop stirring. This is the secret to scrambled eggs: stir. I generally use a rubber spatula for optimal scraping action.

It will take at least five minutes for your eggs to curdify. Keep stirring. Stir up all the semi-solid bits from the bottom of the pan and mix them with the liquid bits. Do this over and over until all the eggs have coagulated and reached your preferred level of solidity. I cannot stand runny scrambled eggs, and so tend to overcook them. To avoid this, take the eggs off the heat when they're just barely too wet for your tastes. They're still hot and still keep cooking.

Eat eggs as hot as humanly possible.

- lots of crispy toast with butter; hot black tea
- egg sandwich: everything crammed between slices of crispy toast; hot black tea
- warm tortillas and salsa; coffee
- warm tortillas, salsa, sour cream, and green onion; coffee
- warm tortillas and mashed avocado; coffee
- steamed spinach; rice; hot black tea (good bland food for sick time)

So, why did I have whey? Perhaps it was because the previous night I had put a good cup of plain yogurt on to strain for yogurt cheese, aka labneh. This stuff is not actually cheese cheese, and requires no rennet, cooking, or any other device. It is just yogurt with the whey drained out, so as to attain a semi-solid consistency much like whipped cream cheese.

Yogurt cheese

straining device
desired herbs
black pepper

First, acquire a straining device. Cheesecloth is normal; coffee filters or tea towels can work. I use an actual thing called a yogurt strainer, which looks like one of those permanent reusable coffee filters, and is made of plastic and nylon mesh. I found it at the goodwill store in some classic 70s packaging. There are some more modern types around, but really, you don't have to go find another appliance for this. You can just use cheesecloth.

Get your strainer positioned over a container to catch the whey. I stick mine over the top of a wide-mouthed measuring cup. When I used cheesecloth, I would suspend it in a mason jar with a rubber band or two. You could also line a metal mesh strainer with cheesecloth and lay it over a pan. Any way will work as long as you make sure there's some room for whey drainage underneath. A couple inches of clearance is good.

When your strainer is ready, put in some plain yogurt. I generally use about a cup at once, since that's what the filter holds well. Now put the whole business in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight.

The next day, go see what's happening. You should find your yogurt (now cheese!) looking solid and a little collapsed in the middle, and a good bit of whey in your drainage. You can keep whey and use it as extra sharp dairy deliciousness in soup bases, in rice, or in scrambled eggs if they happen to be going on. Scoop your cheese out of the strainer and into a bowl.

Leave your cheese plain or season it. You can add whatever herbs and etc you think sound good. I like lots of black pepper with chopped basil and parsley. Some people put olive oil in their yogurt cheese as well. Some people also do exciting things like adding honey and chopped figs, then eating it for dessert. This is also an excellent plan.

If you can stand it, leave the cheese to sit another half hour or so, for flavors to mix. I personally just wanted to eat mine as swiftly as possible. I used it as a dip with grape tomatoes.

What should you do with yogurt cheese?

- Use like sour cream, with big scoops over your enchiladas
- Use like sour cream, to mix with tomato soup for tangy buttermilky action
- Or as a garnish for spicy lemony lentily soup action
- Spread it on good bread and freaking just eat it
- Make a sandwich with it and cucumber and radish
- Dip all the vegetables in the house into it
- For that matter, dip all the chips in the house into it
- Mix it with avocado and salsa for super cream-laden guacamole
- Mix it with raspberries for ridiculous health-laden dessert
- Put it on bagels and avoid processed cream cheese forever

I have eaten breakfast and am thus satisfied.

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