Fried Eggs & Coffee

Found out I am getting another dozen organic, free range, grass-fed brown eggs in my CSA bag this week. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture – I buy a farm share and then get a bag of local produce & veg from May to October. My CSA plan includes cheese, eggs and bread/pasta from local vendors. It quite nice until zucchini fatigue sets in and I have to start giving it away.

Why do people plant so much zucchini? You really only need one plant to feed a county. Everything else we have gone through rapidly – fancy onions and new potatoes, green and yellow beans, lettuces I never heard of before, peaches, apples, all kinds of berries – a wealth of food. Figuring out what to do with things like beets, garlic scapes and patty pan squash has been interesting exercise in discovery cooking.

So now I will have another dozen of these fancy-pants eggs that cost $5.50 at Whole Foods. Seems a shame to make them into a quiche, like throwing $100 wine into the sauce pot. My daughter shudders and gags at the sight of a runny egg. So quiche or bakery will be the fate of these eggs. I still enjoy fried eggs, in spite of the bad publicity they have gotten for cholesterol. They remind me of Sunday breakfast in the park when I was a kid.

One of the bright spots growing up was my father’s preference for breakfast outdoors. He was a Scoutmaster, an Eagle Scout, and a Silver Beaver, none of which means anything outside of the cult of scouting, but he did like a bracing outdoor breakfast. When the mood would strike him he would get up at the crack of dawn (not just an expression) and roust everyone out for a Sunday campaign. This meant packing up two cars (including the Buick station wagon with the “way back”), cooking gear, two coolers of food, a canoe, fishing tackle, sports equipment (including a regulation sized volley ball net), beach stuff, a tarp and two lawn chairs (for my parents.)

We always went to the same park. A quarry that was converted to a lake with a little patch of sand and lots of woods. When we arrived we knew better than to speak until my father had determined the exact right spot to set up camp. He and one of my brothers would set off tramping around the park while the rest of us lounged against the cars. Once the command to unload was issued my mother supervised the toting and Dad would call out “I need some beef!” and three of the bigger kids would follow as he began his quest for “a good picnic table”. He would visit and reject dozens of tables until he found two without any knotholes (these are public tables in a park remember), graffiti, or split boards. We would then have to carry the tables back to the campsite and start staking out territory.

As we strung up clothesline and set up areas for eating, sitting and sports, my mother would be cooking. She was also a Girl Scout troop leader, so she would have a pot of coffee on the fire and a huge skillet of bacon frying before it seemed possible. Coffee brewing over an open fire is uniquely aromatic and complex. As soon as the coffee and bacon were done we would start eating in threes, because that is what fit in the skillets six fried eggs in the bacon skillet and three pieces of bread frying in butter in the other skillet. The three youngest kids would eat first, then the three oldest, and then my parents. I still remember every one of those breakfasts as being delicious. Maybe my mother was good at eggs, or the butter fried bread tipped the scales, or maybe we were just hungry from being up for hours in the open air carrying things. However else the rest of the day went with sunburns or fights with siblings, tired parents disintegrating into yelling, the breakfast was a golden time.

Those Sunday mornings, with both my parents sitting in their lawn chairs after breakfast, sipping their coffee, proved they had moments of contentment and maybe even still liked each other once in a while. Fried eggs and coffee can = love.

Wallace Lake

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