Year for the Planet Week 9: A Study of Omelettes (And the Eggs It Took to Make Them)

Before you can fix the world, you have to fix yourself. Year for a Planet is a personal challenge to be a better human for the planet for a whole year. This year, 2017, is where I deal with my food choices.

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For the next few weeks, I intend to study my staples. And this week, I do eggs.

Eggs have become a staple in my diet primarily because I do not eat meat (but I do eat fish). As such, I have had to look for other protein sources, and eggs are one of the easiest and remaining ones available to me.

The egg industry is, of course, rife with ugly stories of factory farming. Check out these photos to see the horrible cruelty chickens face. There is an interesting discussion about caged, caged-free, and pasture-raised eggs and like most sustainability issues, the answer isn’t that easy (unless you’re a vegan, in which case the choice is no eggs at all).  Perhaps a future experiment for me is raising a chicken in the city, but for now, I have the option of buying organic pasture-raised ones that do not differ much from the prices of factory-farmed eggs.

Possibly the fastest and most delicious breakfast I can whip up is an omelette. I adore omelettes. Such a perfect meal that can be made in five minutes! The best way to enjoy this is right after cooking, of course. Except for hard boiled ones, eggs that are cooked have to be eaten right away, else they feel like plastic in your mouth.

One of the keys to maintaining a lifestyle change is to make it something to look forward to. How do I make my eggs worth waking up for?

There is a science to omelette-making, and lots of secrets that will make it as fluffy as possible. There’s a recipe that calls for putting a teaspoon of cold water in the eggs , because as water turns into steam upon contact with the hot pan, the steam rises throughout the omelette and acts as an “omelette fluffer” of a sort. I tried this and liked it, if only to increase the volume of the initial mixture and make it easier and more satisfying to stir with a whisk or a fork.

I like the strategy of adding water a lot more than adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk, as I don’t want to add any more dairy to my diet than I already have. I’ve cut out most animal milk, but cheese is something I need for personal happiness. Adding milk does make for a creamier omelette, so by all means do so if you feel like it.

I used to fry with olive oil until I learned that it has a relatively low smoke point and can turn rancid at high heat. There seems to be lots of debate about this, but in any case I tried switching to coconut oil. This, however,  left a strange taste in the eggs and do not recommend it at all unless you like coconut-flavored omelettes. Also, the calories in a tablespoon of oil is almost as much as that of a whole egg’s, and so I went with what many omelette connoisseurs go with—butter. Unlike the typical tablespoon of butter, I opt for a very tiny sliver of it. Yes, it’s dairy, but I only use about a tenth of a teaspoon so the pan isn’t dry and to help cook whatever filling I put in. There is a nice buttery taste to the omelette but it doesn’t feel heavier. If you want to add more butter, more power to you, but I’m happy with my results.

I like the modifications I can do with omelettes.  Different add-ons can dictate my weekly schedule, like it’s Omelette-O-Clock. Mondays and Wednesdays, I like putting black olives. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I like to add mushrooms. Fridays, I might go with whatever is left or mix them. Sometimes I like adding tomatoes, and once I experimented with adding different exotic spices, which I likely won’t do again. In the mornings, I like being basic.

I love how an omelette can turn so… big. The eggs’ transformation from a gooey mess of white and yellow to a fluffy pancake is a beautiful cinema of food chemistry. It’s happiness on a plate and a great, protein-filled start to any day.

There are many geometries to an omelette. It can be a full pancake, rolled up like a tiny carpet, or folded in half. I like the half moon that seems to be the practical choice as I cook in about a half cup of fillings before adding the eggs. The bottom part is fully cooked, while the top is a bit underdone. I usually place a slice of natural cheese on top, see it melt a bit, then fold it in half and serve on a plate.

So my recipe for my perfect omelette is this:

Ingredients
• 2 large organic eggs, left at room temperature
• Tiny sliver of butter
• A pinch each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder
• Half a cup of fillings of choice (such as black olives, mushroom, tomatoes)
• 1 slice of mozzarella cheese

Procedure
1. Heat a small pan and place the butter. While waiting, crack the eggs and beat them well with a whisk or a fork, adding a teaspoon of cold water and the salt/pepper/garlic.
2. When the butter has melted, add the fillings and stir until cooked.
3. Add the eggs and make sure they are distributed evenly throughout the pan. There will be a point when you’re gauging whether the bottom part is already cooked. Never wait until the top portion is fully cooked, in which case the bottom is already burned. I add a slice of cheese on top, and when the edges are done, I fold the omelette in half, serve on a plate, and eat immediately.

These are the most omelette acrobatics I can do as I am usually very sleepy in the morning.

What were the breakfasts I had before I started cooking for myself and going through all ingredients and processes? Pure crap is what I think of them now: Sugary cereals that tried to entice me with mascots of pirate captains and anthropomorphized tigers, lots of white bread, leftover pizza, and sometimes none at all. Because these never filled me enough, I always overate. I crashed before noon and ate even more crap later on. A lot of people still do this, and as one who has left those ways, one realization kept creeping up on me in all of our systems and not just food, which I will likely write about in future posts: No one really wants that kind of life.

What is your favorite omelette recipe, and do you have any secrets to making the perfect omelette?

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