Home > Essays, Recipes > Trust Me I’ve Done the Eggwork: Fridge Cleaning 101

Trust Me I’ve Done the Eggwork: Fridge Cleaning 101

I’ve been sprinkling my ideas here and there on the internet for a pretty long time, but until I started using “tag clouds” I never realized that the single biggest subject I wrote about was food. So while I’ve been a huge fan of this here blog that’s unfolding, I was mildly disappointed by the lack of posts about, you know, frying stuff in butter. My mistake was mentioning this to Snarky’s Machine, who of course decided that I was just the person to correct this discrepancy.

Keeping with Snarky’s suggestion, I thought I’d start with eggs, which I do in fact rather frequently fry in butter. I don’t eat meat, so along with legumes and dairy, eggs provide a significant part of my protein intake. I like them because they’re cheap — even organics are just two bits a pop — versatile, and widely available, at least before 11 AM.

I do enjoy going out to breakfast, and I plan on writing about that soon. But right now I want to talk about cooking, particularly that kind of cooking I learned when I was first on my own — the kind I resort to when I haven’t done much shopping lately, and the state of the refrigerator is hovering somewhere between raidable and Fight Club.

  • As a kid, I spent a lot more time watching my mom cook than out in my dad’s garage. So while I didn’t know how to drive or check my oil until I was 24, I knew at an early age that eggs make a great refrigerator cleaner. Not in the Arm-and-Hammer sense, but as a way to tie together small quanitites of accumulated leftovers. One of my favorites of these has always been potatoes and eggs, consisting of eggs, salt, a little romano or parmigiana cheese, and whatever potatoes have been hanging around. Anything works: I’ve used baked, boiled, post-Thanksgiving roasted potatoes, tater tots, even McDonald’s french fries — and trust me (I’ve done the eggwork) they always turn out great. I heat the spuds (in butter of course) in a frypan at medium heat and then add in a few eggs scrambled with the cheese and salt, flipping once when it starts to brown at the bottom. When I can’t keep it together (which is most of the time), I find scrambling the heck out of it doesn’t affect the taste at all.
  • Once I mastered the basic technique I found that pretty much anything else could be added after the potatoes and before the eggs: onions, cubes of cheese, broccoli (though I usually save larger quantities of it for quiche), red or green peppers, green beans, peas (though if you have kids be careful as I find the addition of peas often makes anything I cook inedible) and sausage or bacon or really any kind of meat if you’re so inclined.
  • A little less versatile but still useful is my spaghetti omelette, which is the only way I’ve found to dispose of leftover spaghetti that doesn’t involve wiping sauce off the sides of the garbage pail or the kitchen floor. It’s the same idea as potatoes and eggs, except that I mix the pasta, cheese and eggs together in a bowl before pouring it all into the buttered pan. The long strands of spaghetti work like a polymer resulting in the only kind of omelette I’ve ever consistently been able to flip. Something I’ve figured out only recently is that this also works as a casserole, baking the whole thing at 375° until it’s solid in the middle.
  • Keeping with the “mix something starchy with eggs and fry it in butter” motif, another favorite nothing-in-the-fridge dish is fried matzo which, growing up in an Italian/Jewish section of Brooklyn, I was exposed to at an early age. The main difference from the other dishes is that the matzo needs to soak in the eggs ahead of time. Some recipes I’ve seen call for dunking it in water first, but I prefer just using eggs, even if it takes a bit longer and cooks up a bit drier. I also like to add a little onion — onion powder works great when the cupboard is bare of anything fresh — and some ground pepper.

One of the wonderful things is that all these recipes scale from one person to a whole family, making them one of the few pieces of information from my college years that I still use on a more or less daily basis.

This was originally posted at I Fry Mine In Butter.

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Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , , , ,
  1. April 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Kudos to you for recognizing the versatility of eggs especially when there doesn’t seem to be anything to make for supper!

    I agree that potatoes and eggs make a winning combination. Personally, I like a good hash brown frittata!

  2. April 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    @Wendi, thanks for the feedback. I’ve never mastered the art of making hash browns so they’re one of my favorite things to order out.

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