How Not to Soft-Boil an Egg

Normally I relish the morning routine that allows me to drop Kirk at school (we gave up our second car when we embarked on grad school life together) and then come home to the quiet house to immediately power up my Pride & Prejudice soundtrack and get the hot tea brewing.

This morning, probably because I was still hungry when I went to bed last night, I wanted something of substance for breakfast. Something besides my old standby of hot tea and a small bit of chocolate, which I usually take as I read at the table.

Mmm, eggs, I thought as I was driving home. Soft-boiled eggs. I wonder how you make them?

I tried calling Kirk to get instructions, him being our resident chef, but when he didn't answer his phone I had to figure an alternate plan. Google! I thought. Of course, Google. You can find anything on Google.

Into the search bar went the phrase "how to make soft boiled eggs," which returned a gazillion hits, on down even to the details of how Julia Child herself likes them prepared, and I figured I could handle what seemed like a simple formula:

1. Boil the water.

2. Ease in the eggs.

3. Time for 3 minutes.

4. Remove.

Easy enough.

Many of the recipes said to watch the timer diligently, to even use an egg timer if you didn't trust yourself, so by the time three minutes were up, I was hovering over that boiling pan of water like a mom hovers over a new baby.

Except they didn't look done. They were tapping on the bottom of the pan in the heat of the boil, and the tapping still sounded quite fragile. I decided to give them another minute or two.

About a minute and a half later, I eased the eggs out of the water and into a tupperware bowl. One attempt at peeling back the first shell was enough to remind me that it's probably a good idea to run them under cold water first, in order to save your fingers. Okay, done.

Now it was time to really peel them back. But as soon as I began, I knew it was a failed experiment. The egg whites were too malleable. I felt like I would puncture them with the slightest inadvertent jab of the shell's sharp edge.

Carefully, I peeled the shells off two of the four eggs anyway (I had made two extra as a backup, and I'm sure glad I did -- two of them exploded upon entry into the scalding hot water). Once shelled, I plopped the eggs in a ceramic bowl. Except one of them broke in half in the process of shelling (you can see its lonely other half sitting in the tupperware bowl of shells in the photo above), and that one's yolk went streaming into the bowl.

These eggs really weren't done.

But what's a girl to do? Put the other two eggs back in? I doubt it. Besides, those other two casualties were already gushing guts through cracks sustained the first go-round in the pan.

Instead, I seasoned the shelled eggs in the bowl with some pepper and salt, grabbed a fork to mash them down -- really, it was more like stirring at this point -- and sat down at the table to eat them. I'd wanted eggs, right?

Now, probably this was all psychological, but I swear the eggs tasted . . . organic. Not in an "I bought organic eggs at the supermarket" kind of way, but in an "I don't think I cooked these eggs enough and they still feel alive" kind of way.

Gross. I ate only as much as I could stomach but eventually tossed everything out.

There really is a reason I don't cook, and this morning's experiment goes to prove once again why that is so. Thankfully, I've still got a stash of hot tea and chocolate waiting for me in the pantry. I'll stand by that option any day. Hot tea, I can handle.