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Mapo Tofu & Egg Woes (240)

My apologies for the long absence, but I have been out sick since last Friday due to a nasty infection from a certain male toddler living in my household. The little guy is all better and has returned to his daily mommy-menacing, leaving the rest of us all croaky and sniffly and grouchy. On the bright side, I did get a lot of much needed sleep!

I continue to be vexed by my poor egg cooking skills. I switched to using a Calphalon pan that I got as a wedding gift but had hidden away in frustration and have had some success cooking breakfast in it. I was having a grand ole time thinking that I’d finally found a pan to cook breakfast in when disaster struck.

I’m sure some of you must remember those old drug ads from the 80s about “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.”, right? That popped into my head right away when I was cleaning up my latest pan horror.

This is my pan:

This is my pan on eggs:

AUUUGH! This kills me. Kills me!! I’ve tried Pam, I’ve tried oil, I’ve tried both. Yet sometimes this still happens. I’m ready to turn my eggs over to Buddy and watch him exact revenge upon them on behalf of his egg-deranged mother.

Anyway, I shall move on from my egg-ony and get to my lunch.

Thanks to my helpful readers, I went out and bought the materials to build a lightbox to help with my lighting problems I wrote about last week. I’d done this before with a cardboard box but without much success. I found this guide to be much more concise and so now I have a nice pretty lightbox in which to take my photos. I was unable to secure more than one light though, so this photo still had to get run through Picasa and Photoshop before being presentable here. Still, the quality looks pretty good and I’m sure it will only improve when I get more lamps! Thanks! You guys rock!!

I’m eating mapo tofu and black pepper chicken, which is leftover from when my dad was here on Saturday. Hopefully we didn’t get him sick. My mommy was also here before she left for Vegas to go on a scouting trip to move up there. It was raining cigar mangoes this weekend! I was in heaven!

I’ve been thinking about making a raised garden in the yard now. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not allowed to grow anything in the ground! I’m always getting busted for weeds cause I guess this is considered “growing things in the ground” too. Anyway, I thought maybe I could build something and start an herb garden or something. Then at least the stupid weeds wouldn’t have sun and would leave my yard alone! I’ll have to do research and find myself a Raised Flowerbeds for Dummies book or something.

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  • Susan

    I believe you need to “season” that pan of yours. I never learned to do it, just read about it and tried it once on one of my “wedding gift woks” but to no success. I use a stainless steel wok (since my husband is so against any type of coated/teflon pans) to cook my eggs, pancakes, etc. with unhealthy amounts of oil. I was reading another food blog the other day where a “blackened” well season wok was being used. They say the blacker the better. Let me know if you figure out a way to “season” the “all-stick” pans.

  • Jef

    I have a few suggestions for you:

    That pan can be fixed no problem and will release just like a nonstick pan. Cover the entire bottom of the pan with kosher salt and cook on high for five minutes. Remove from heat and, with a towel, rub the salt into the pan good and hard. You’re trying to clean and polish the pan with the salt. I usually scrub the pan with the salt for about 5minutes or so. Remove salt, wash pan as normal, make awesome omelettes and brag! πŸ™‚

    When you’re cooking, make sure the pan is nice and hot before anything goes into it. Make sure the oil is hot, too. Nothing really should stick to a stainless pan that is oiled up and ready to go.

  • Kimie

    Hey Love I have switched to cast iron and LOVE it! Once your pan is seasoned, even eggs are nonstick! I swear, I cook them every day for the morning fry up. Cast Iron is cheap and lasts forever too. Keep up the good bentoing πŸ™‚

  • kat

    I have heard that you need to heat the pan before putting in any oil. If you put the oil in the pan before heating it goes into the “pores” of the pan and then everything and everybody sticks to the pan πŸ™

  • Marianne

    I feel your pain, I just fail to make any sort of egg dish without a non-stick teflon pan.

    And (as I discovered) you need proper oil, not the low cal oil spray stuff which I’ve been using. That leads to massive burnination.


  • Joe

    If you’re looking to make a raised garden, you could make pretty decent sized wooden boxes( like 4x2x2.5) in a few hours on a Saturday. You can google a lumber yard around where you live and the people there will be able to tell you what kind of wood you’d need for your project. Just remember that things do grow so you’ll want them to be kinda big for the roots.

    Hope This helps!

  • Oh, do the raised planters. We just got some up in the scary backyard this year and the plants just LOVE them. Of course, as novice gardeners we planted way too much too close together so it’s sort of like a big watermelonsquashzucchinitomatocucumber plant instead of several well-behaved and distinct plants. It’s been very productive, nevertheless, and we’re certainly enjoying the vegetables and fruits of our labors.

  • Pikko

    Susan: I’ve heard of seasoning pans too, but are you really supposed to do that with All-Clad pans??

    Jef: I will definitely have to try that salt method! I will let you know how that works out. Do you have to do that once or each time you cook??

    Kimie: I just recently bought a cast iron stew pot. I’ll have to go back to Macy’s and buy a small skillet to try too. πŸ™‚

    Kat: That could definitely be it… I put the oil in as soon as I turn on the heat..

    Marianne: Burnination seems to be my middle name. D:

    Joe: I was looking it up and I think I prefer an elevated garden, though I have no idea what to use for the bottom. I think I’d go to Lowe’s as when I went to Home Depot to get those lights, it took me 5 employees to point me in the right direction. >.< Jenny: You've convinced me!! Now I just need to do it. lol

  • steph

    You cannot season a stainless steel pan. It is not porous enough to hold the oil (or something like that). I would go with Jef’s method of making sure the surface is as smooth as possible. And definitely go with the advice about heating the pan first, then the oil, then start doing your thing with the oil starts to get wavy.

    It seems to me if the surface of the food cooks before it gets to the surface of the pan, then they will not stick. But if the food cooks ON the surface of the pan, it will stick, therefore you must have hot oil (it doesn’t have to be a lot, just hot). However, with eggs, once you start cooking alernate heat/no heat to get them just right.

    I have a perfectly seasoned cast iron pan, myself, but I’m afraid to use it (can’t brillo it, if something does stick!). I must get over it – I hear it’s great. πŸ™‚

  • Kris

    Okay, I own a bunch of Calphalon since I work for one of their sister companies. Here are my $.02.

    I’m guessing your pan is Contemporary Stainless? If so, then no, it can’t be seasoned. The earlier idea to scour the pan with salt would probably help though, as there might be some miniscule lingering particles that the salt could help remove.

    Food should be cooked at a lower temp than normal. Don’t heat on high and then reduce the heat. Medium should be high enough to cook eggs.

    Heat the pan to medium, and put in your oil or butter. Never use cooking spray with Calphalon pans as that will definitely give you a gummy residue and things will start sticking ASAP.

    Good luck!

  • Teerex

    I have the same pan — took a long time to get used to it too. But in the end the thing that works for eggs is : heating the pan up 1st, then add the oil (quite a lot of it!), heat the oil until it’s all watery looking, then add the eggs! Good luck! even though it works, i went back to my old pan, so I don’t have to use as much oil.