Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ingredient of the Week


I love hard boiled eggs.  I eat them whole with a dash of salt, as deviled eggs-to which I cannot eat just one, and especially as egg and olive salad on toasted rye bread.  To that I say, “Scrumpt-diddily-delicious!”  It is easy enough to cook eggs; however, peeling eggs is another story.  Reading a food science book inspired me to challenge my cooking ways to get a tender white egg that had a creamy yolk instead of a rubbery egg with a crumbly dry yolk.  

I found that the term “cooked” eggs was key.  I grew up boiling eggs, which led to tough eggs with a green tinted yolk, which results from overcooking causing a reaction of sulfur in the yolk with the iron in the egg white. Also, a stink is produced when shells break leaking albumen into the water.  Have you ever stopped to listen to boiling eggs?  That clink is from the eggs hitting the bottom of the pan and from hitting other eggs.  I now ensure that my eggs do not boil. 

There are several ways to hard cook eggs.  It is all about time and temperature because the whites cook faster than the yolk.  Steam eggs by placing them in a basket made for such task which is then placed over heated water, or pack them in salt and heat them in the oven (like a baked potato,) or simmer them in a pot of hot water.  I just kept to the stove top.  I placed six large eggs in a pot with enough cold water to cover them completely by an inch, placed it on a burner, and brought the water to a bubbly simmer (just near boiling, but not quite), immediately turned off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and left the eggs to steam for 10 minutes.  After time was up, I placed the eggs in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and to loosen the skin from the egg.  The first time, the eggs came out softer than I liked, which made for tender creamy eggs with wet golden yellow yolks, however, I was aiming for a harder yolk.  The second batch was left to steam for 13 minutes, which was just the right amount of time to create a lovely hard-cooked egg.  

Next, I went on to the peeling. Peeling eggs was not all that it was cracked up to be.  Hah, pun intended!  I managed to mutilate the eggs.  The protective skin stuck to the egg, the shell came off in shards along with the egg.  While it is said that one is able to peel a shell off in one continuous motion – like an apple peel, I had a ways to go in my technique.  Good thing egg salad was my favorite; diced eggs hid all flaws. 

I went back to reading in order to shed some light on this dilemma. Here is what I found out. 
  1. Fresh eggs are more difficult to peel. However, store bought eggs are “old enough” by  the time they get to the store and are not to blame for pocked eggs.
  2. Rotten or bad eggs float in water due to the amount of air within the shell.
  3. Make sure to cool eggs completely immediately after cooking or peeling is more difficult.
  4. An egg shocked in cold water is easier to peel than one left to sit and cool.
  5. Start peeling from the wider end of the egg which has the air pocket between the egg and shell.
  6. Try a gentle crack and roll method for cracking the shell.
  7. It is purported that adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when cooking fresh eggs makes for a more alkaline bath, which then seeps through the egg shell and aides in assuring the protective membrane sticks unto itself rather than the shell.
  8. If making deviled eggs, try cutting the hard-cooked egg in half and then scoop out the egg as you would with an avocado.  Saves you from unsightly peeling incidents.
  9. If making deviled eggs and you are aiming for a “centered” pocket for the prepared egg stuffing then use fresh eggs that have been placed on their side in the refrigerator to keep the yolks centered. 
     Basic Hard-Boiled Eggs.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     Geiger, B.  (2009, June 4).  Food ScienceCracking the Boiled Egg MysteryIn Fine Cooking.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     Lopez, J. K.  (2009, October 9).  The Food Lab:  Perfect Boiled Eggs.  In Serious Eats.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     McGee, H. (2004).  On Food and Cooking:  A Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Rev. ed.). New York: Scribner. p. 82-89.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fun Things to Look Forward to in May

May starts in a few days and here are some great events coming up that you definitely won't want to miss! 

Wednesday, May 1st, 6pm-9pm
Beginner Farm Series-Suburban Organic Homesteading!
An exciting new program for those interested in farming or implementing farming techniques on their residential property. Monroe, NJ location disclosed upon registration.
-Register at 732-398-5262

Friday, May 3rd, 11am-5pm
Farmer's Market
Rutgers Gardens at 112 Ryders Lane, East Brunswick, NJ 
Weekly farmers market providing locally grown and made products such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, breads, and meats 

Saturday, May 4th, 10am-4pm
Master Gardeners Garden Question & Answer Day
4-H Youth Center, 645 Cranbury Rd., East Brunswick, NJ 
Gardeners can learn about the best gardening and landscaping practices. Visit with our Master Gardeners and take home some great quality plants. An enormous variety of vegetables, flowering vines, annuals, and perennials will be available!

Saturday, May 11th, 9am-12pm
Beginner Beekeeping
Earth Center in Davidson's Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave. North Brunswick, NJ
Have you ever wanted to become an amateur apiarist? Try this introduction! Learn the basics on establishing a hive on your own property. Weather permitting there will be a brief walk outside
Register by May 8 at (732) 398-5262 

Saturday, May 11th, 8am-2pm 
4-H Yard Sale
645 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ 
Looking for some good bargains? Join 4-H for this sale. (Rain date: May 12th)

Saturday, May 18th, 10am-12pm
Organic Lawn & Land Care for Your Home
Earth Center in Davidson's Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave. North Brunswick, NJ
We will present surefire ways to have a beautiful lawn without pesticides. Dress for some outside demonstrations. 
Register by May 15 at (732) 398-5262

Saturday, May 25th, 1pm-4pm
Container Gardening Workshop
130 Log Cabin Road, New Brunswick, NJ (on Cook Campus)
Explore a variety of appropriate containers, soil mixes, and watering and fertilization practices. Bring a container--soil and a number of fun and unusual annuals will be available for students to decorate their own containers at the end of class!

Let us know if you know of any other fun events coming up soon! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ingredient of the Week

Asparagus (Asparagus Officinalis)

When is it in season?  Look for asparagus as early as this week, however, asparagus is readily harvested during the month of May according to the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture Jersey Fresh:

Is it locally grown?  Yes!  New Jersey ranks 4th in U.S. production, so you can definitely buy your asparagus from a local farmer.  California, Michigan, and Washington come in as the top three states that grow asparagus.

How is it grown?  It is grown in 8" of sandy soil about 18" apart by a diligent farmer who keeps ensures a weed free environment.  Asparagus comes in green, white, and purple spears.  White is really green asparagus that is continuously covered with soil to block the sun while the stems grow.  Purple is native to Europe, is tender, and has 20% more sugar than green asparagus.  Asparagus takes three seasons to fully establish its root system.  Spears are cut after the third year, however, asparagus reaches its prime in six to eight years.  Asparagus is also labor intensive to harvest as it is cut by hand, which lends its high cost. 

Tips:  Look for firm spears with closed tips that are large in diameter.  Wider stems provide a more tender and crisp bite.  Asparagus is delicious when it is freshly picked and may be eaten raw.  Why wait?  If you prefer to cook your stems then remember to not step away from the kitchen as steaming or sauteing only takes 5 minutes. Wait for the stems to turn a vibrant green then remove from the heat.  Blanch in cold water if you are not eating the asparagus right away. The goal is to avoid turning it into a limp mucky-green vegetable by overcooking.

Bit O' History:  P. Garnham (2012) notes that asparagus is native to Europe and Asia and has been grown since 4,000 B.C.  Asparagus is part of the lily family and is akin to leeks and onions.  The Greeks purported it to be a cure for various ailments, while the Romans claimed asparagus was an aphrodisiac.

Fun Facts:  Rutgers University produces the varieties: "Jersey Knight," "Jersey Giant," and "Jersey Supreme."

Asparagus is high in vitamins A, B6, C, and thiamine.  It is also high in fiber and acts as a diuretic.

What's that smell?  Eating asparagus affects the odor of urine due to violatile sulphurs created in digestion.  Genetics lead to a proportion of people who produce a "skunky" odor and a proportion of people who can smell it.  While research varies over the chemical culprits, but the bottom line comes down to sulphur compounds.  McDonald (2011) notes in his research that White (1975) identified S-methyl thioesters, and Allison and McWhirter (1956) claimed methanethiol was the cause, whereas, Waring (1987) noted that methanethiol, dimethyl sulphide, dimethyl disulphide, dimethyl sulphoxide, and dimethyl sulphone were the causes. 

Garnham, P. (2012, July/August).  Asparagus.  Horticulture, Vol. 109 (4), 14-19. 
McDonald, J.H. (2011).  Asparagus Urine Smell: The Myth Myths of Human Genetics.  
     Baltimore, Maryland:  Sparky House Publishing, 8-13.  Retrieved from  
Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. (2000).  Questions about Asparagus.  Retrieved 
     April 20, 2013 from
Toussaint-Samat, M. (2009).  A History of Food (2nd ed.).  West Sussex, United
     Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.
United States Department of Agriculture Economics, Statistics, and Market Information:  
     U.S.  Asparagus Statistics. (2008).  Table01.xls: Census number of farms with asparagus,
     area harvested, 1974-2007.  Retrieved from

Monday, April 22, 2013

Did you know that you could keep bees in New Brunswick?

Cause we sure didn't!

Come out tomorrow night to the New Brunswick Public Library at 6:00pm to learn about keeping bees in the New Brunswick area.

Bring a vegetarian dish if you'd like and be prepared to eat some delicious food and learn a thing or two!

Friday, April 12, 2013


Boscov's Gala Preview for a Good Cause
Friday, August 9,2013 10AM to 9PM
Be the first to see the new Boscov's Department Store at the Woodbridge Center Mall, Woodbridge, NJ and help Who Is My Neighbor Inc and A Better World Cafe at the same time! Tickets for entry into the preview gala are $5 and your entire $5 donation benefits The Café and Who Is My Neighbor.  The gala event includes refreshments, entertainment and a FREE GIFT (valued at $10)!  Purchase your tickets at A Better World Café.  Have a fun day shopping and support a great cause.

Eat Local, Meet Local - Pot Luck Dinner

On Friday, May 3,2013 Elijah's Promise, A Better World Cafe and Slow Food Central New Jersey would like to invite you for an evening of good food and good talk about strengthening our Central Jersey food community.  Come and meet local farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, entrepreneurs, gardeners and other food enthusiasts. All you need to do is to bring a dish to share, featuring your favorite local foods. Get ready to share ideas, make new friends, have fun and change the way we eat.

Bring a dish to share (preferably local). Donations will be appreciated.  Meeting at Promise Culinary School, 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick.
Register Now!