First, there was that baffling run on toilet paper early on in this quarantine continuum. Now, there seems to be a scramble to hoard fresh eggs.

Yes, it was the day after Gov. Janet Mills formalized her stay at home order. And yes, it was April Fool’s Day, just seven days before hard-boiled eggs would be included on ceremonial Passover plates and 11 days before colored eggs will be hidden and then consumed by Christians on Easter. But no, the management team at Hannaford was not joking about its insufficient supply of eggs in the refrigerated case on the back wall of its Brunswick store. There was not a single dozen to be had.

There was a sign, though. It read:

“Due to the limited supply and higher than usual demand, our suppliers have increased their prices on eggs. We apologize for the inconvenience. We will do our best to keep items in stock at the lowest prices possible.”

In the meantime, the store would be enforcing a limit of two cartons of eggs per customer per visit.

I’ve advocated for buying local, farm fresh, happy chicken eggs in the past. And duck eggs, too. These local eggs are fresher, taste better, come from happier chickens, and are an important part of Maine’s sustainable food system.

I’m not one to say “I told you so” (unless you’re my older brother, Shawn, because he was a know-it-all when we were growing up and, as a younger sister, that feeling I get when besting him on any point never gets old), but I would like gently to point out that my farmer still charges me the $6 a dozen price she charged me before we’d ever heard of coronavirus. I order them online by noon on Friday and meet her partner in the parking lot for the safely-distanced hand-off on Monday mornings.

I make that dozen eggs from Applecreek Farm in Bowdoinham last a week with the help of optical illusions and tactical separation techniques I learned in cooking school 10 years ago, when austere egg usage was not yet required by a pandemic but food costs were always a factor.

Over-medium eggs are a common breakfast occurrence for my daughter. In normal times, her portion was two. But as the quarantine wears on, I’ve halved that without complaint. My trick is to wait until the egg is room temperature before cracking it into the pan (a process you can speed up considerably by placing a refrigerated egg in a bowl of hot water for a minute). While cold fresh eggs have whites that sit high and tight, warming the egg encourages the white to spread out, making breakfast for we three at home seem bigger.

Hard-boiled eggs give my lunchtime salads staying power. One hard-boiled egg looks small when whole. It’s much more satisfying if you push it through a kitchen strainer into a pile of egg confetti and sprinkle it over the salad so we three eaters isolating at home can enjoy both yolk and white in every bite.

Make your eggs count. The yolks can go into a spaghetti carbonara, while the whipped egg whites, pictured here, make cookies. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Once I’ve hard-boiled three eggs, I use the same pan full of water to poach three more. Technically, I under-poach them by about a minute. I use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl of cold water and store them in the water in the fridge for up to 36 hours. When I’m ready to serve them – typically over a variable hash made of leftovers – I bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and return the eggs to the pan to finish cooking them.

I separate the last three eggs in the dozen to make dinner and dessert. I use the yolks to make rich, creamy bowls of spaghetti carbonara, and the whites to make 18 crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside chocolate chip, pecan and coconut meringues.

Three breakfasts, three lunches, dinner for three, and dessert and tea-time treats to boot. Not a bad haul from a single carton of $6 eggs.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester, and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at: [email protected]

Chocolate Chip, Pecan and Coconut Meringues

I adapted this recipe from one Christina Lane developed for her cookbook “Dessert for Two.” She calls them Forgotten Cookies because she leaves them to bake overnight in the residual heat of a 350 degree oven. I make them in a bigger batch and rush them a bit because I like them too much to be either patient or to eat just one or two.

Makes 18 cookies

3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl of your mixer, beat the egg whites until very stiff using the whisk attachment. With the beaters still running, slowly add the sugar. Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Scoop roughly 2 tablespoon portions of the batter onto the cookie sheet, spreading each out to 4-inch circles. Leave 2 inches between the cookies. Place the cookies in the oven. Bake for 3 minutes, then turn the oven off. Leave the cookies to sit in the oven without opening the door for 4 hours. Transfer baked cookies to an airtight container, where they will keep for 3-4 days.


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