Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting the second degree

"I was given the third degree by may father for (insert broken household rule)." That's the way it usually goes. The only person to give me the third degree these days would be Becky, and she thinks I'm right more often than not. Besides, our greatest fight is over things like who'll pay for what. Our last one was when we were at a Wendy's, grabbing food for the sake of convenience, and we settled it by flipping a coin.

Last night, she came a bit closer, and even then it wasn't serious. Her demand was that I stop hurting myself. Like I plan to be a klutz throughout the day. And her "third degree" was inspired by the fact that I got the second degree. A superficial second degree burn on my left index finger, that is.

You see, there's a relatively simple meal I can prepare called matzoh brei (pronounced "bry"). I make it the way my Dad taught me. I like it because it's quick and easy. Why, I'll even give the recipe toward the end, should you want to give it a try yourself. Becky loves it, and I've joked that if she eats 100 of them, she'll become Jewish.

But none of this matters. What does it the fact that I was in the process of cooking it, went to clean part of the pan while literally in the middle of cooking the food, when my finger touched part of the heated metal pan. I've become accustomed to upscale, dull aches and the like, so a good burn was a reminder of what "real" pain is. And there's something distressing in seeing one's skin instantaneously becoming an angry red and glossy smooth. I'd managed to burn the first joint after the knuckle, and the pain extended to my fingertip. The language I used...Well, such words don't often fly from my mouth.

This was a reminder that there are just some things I should do, and if I can manage them, I shouldn't do them often. My coordination tends to be low, and my reflexes are literally not what they should be. (I have the nerve conduction study to prove it.)

Here's my issue, though. Becky goes to pre-nursing classes for several hours each day. Three or four days a week, she also works part time. While I may not be feeling up to keeping house all day long, I should be able to do a little every day. Cooking the occasional meal should be on that list. Alas, it may be wiser to rely on TV dinners and such every now and again. In this way, I won't require bandaging myself as often.

And now, THE BREI!

This really is an easy meal to prepare, but I'm somewhat wordy, and like to give warnings and such. It'll probably take loner to give the recipe than actually cook it. =P And understand that this is a bachelor's way of cooking, and not a cooking manual. Double =P !

You'll need:
3 boards of matzoh
2 Eggs (and a small bowl to scramble them)
Cooking oil (vegetable of canola works)
Kosher salt
Pepper
Something to mix stuff with, like a giant spoon
A cooking pan
A plate that fits over said pan with a little room to spare
A mixing bowl
A colander

1: Soak the matzoh completely. Down it if you have to. You want none of it to remain crispy.
2: While that's happening, get your eggs scrambled and start warming up some oil in the pan. I usually go with a low-medium heat to get it going. Warming up the oil makes it easier to make it HOT when you need it.
3: Once the matzoh is completely soggy, use the colander to drain all the water from it. Being the thug that I am, I'll use my hand to press the excess water from it. It makes a mess, but then I don't know what this "neat" thing is. =P
4: Dump the matzoh into the mixing bowl with the eggs. Add pepper as you'd like. Then add...ummm...this much Kosher salt. Here, I'll show you. (*Shakes box of Kosher salt over the bowl, allowing an undetermined amount to land in the mix*) Did that help at all? I didn't think so. There's no telling you exactly how much to use, as I've never measured it. Becky has made it herself, and says a palm's worth wasn't quite enough. You'll have to experiment. Sorry.
5: While mixing all of that up, start getting that oil good and hot.
6: Once the oil is hot, dump to contents of the mixing bowl into the pan and spread it evenly to form a circular pie-shaped thing. You might want to GENTLY shake the pan back and forth to ensure none of the mixture is sticking. Then lower the heat immediately to low-medium again.
7: Cook at that temp for about five minutes. That should help it to cook through, as well as give it a golden brown color on the side that's against the pan. When five minutes are up, increase the heat to the same temp when you got the pan hot for about a minute.
8: Now for the "fun" part of flipping the matzoh brei. CAREFULLY place the plate over the pan, hold the plate firmly in place, and carry them to over the sink. (You don't want to accidentally drip hot oil onto the stove.) Now flip the pan/plate. What you should see on the plate is a "matzoh pie" that's golden brown in color. If not, place the pan over it, flip it back, and cook for a little longer. (Pay a visit to step 10, even if you need to cook it a bit more.) If it IS golden brown...
9: You have to get the uncooked side of the matzoh brie back into the pan. Being uncooked, however, it's not going to just side in there. I tend to shake the plate, vibrating the brei back into the pan. This tends to leave tiny bits of brei on the plate, but we'll address that in a moment.
10: Before you you return the pan to the stove, use a moist paper towel to wipe away and oil that's managed to drip to the understand. FOR THE LOVE OF G-D, BE CAREFUL! This is where I burned my finger. Still, oil that's been burnt to a pan is incredibly hard to get off, so if you care about your cookware, take this step, and then return the pan to the stove. Reduce the heat once more and cook for another five minutes.
11: While it's cooking, you might want to clean that late you used to flip it. My father may have been able to taste uncooked matzoh brei when I was a kid, but I'm not a fan of it. It's a quick wash, and be sure to dry the plate thoroughly. If you're lazy, just use another plate.
12: While your at it, and this has nothing to do with the actual cooking, but you might want to clean up a bit. I mean, you now have a small bowl you scrambled eggs in, a mixing bowl, a colander, and large spoon, all sitting in the sink waiting for someone to wash them. Do that now while your food cooks. =)
13: It's time to flip your matzoh brei again. It's the same process as before, but with less of chance for a mess. Again, the matzoh brei should be a golden brown. If not, cook for a bit longer.
14: This creation is now EXTREMELY hot. Give it a little time to cool off before eating any of it.

And there you have it. Some nice Jewish cooking, brought to you by a guy who isn't allowed to cook meatloaf, as per court order. (The last victim of my meatloaf is still lying in a coma.) I wish I could be more precise on the part with the salt, but it's ALWAYS been guesswork. Sometimes I'll put a lot in, and then wonder where it all went. At other times, I'll put too little, but then manage to take a bit that seems to be filled with ALL of the salt I added. And the pepper is really something you add to your own taste. I know people who put no pepper in it and sprinkle sugar on their matzoh brei once it's cooked. Different strokes for different folks, y'know?

This has been "Cooking with Bor." Remember our motto: "Never fry bacon when your naked!"

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