Yesterday the Egg News Bureau sent me a press release announcing the American Egg Board's search for "America's Worst Cook." (Yes, it's a marketing ploy by the U.S. egg producers to get us all to buy more eggs. Bear with me.)

Folks can enter themselves (or their hapless friends) with a short essay describing their culinary challenges. Winner gets a trip to NY for a cooking lesson with Howard Helmer, who landed a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records as "World's Fastest Omelette Maker."

So I'm thinking about entering my mother in law. It's not that she's a lousy cook. She is, in fact, a fantastic cook (with a closely guarded jambalaya recipe I hope she will one day entrust to me). But she's got an egg story that can't be beat.

This Easter, my in-laws flew across the country to meet their newest grandson. We rented a lake house for the holiday, and made big plans for dying Easter eggs. (Who cares if the kid is only 3 months old? When he's older he can look at the photos and see how much fun we had finding his eggs.)

On Saturday, our plan kept changing. Dye eggs, then go for a boat ride. No, wait. Boat ride first, then dye eggs. Perhaps you see where this is going. She claims she had a senior moment, but I think my acute case of mommy-brain mutated and infected her. Because about 45 minutes into the boat ride...

Mother in law: I'm cooking eggs.

Us: (Blank stares.)

Mother in law: I'M COOKING EGGS! Or am I? I can see myself turning on the stove...but I can't remember. Did I turn it off? Oh NO!

Us: (Tense silence. Full-throttle U-turn. Visions of smoldering pile of lake-house ashes.)



To our great relief, the lake house was still standing. The stove was, indeed, still on. But there was a little bit of water left in the pan, and our eggs were not reduced to smoking spheres of charcoal. They were, in fact, still edible. Crisis averted. Easter-egg hunting commenced.

Mishaps like these make for some of my fondest family memories (and the best roasting stories, like the time my hubbie caught a pan on FIRE while boiling water...but that's another story). I'll always remember this Easter with a smile.

My mother in law, who has a wonderful sense of humor and surely won't mind my sharing this with the world, even went so far as to preserve this story for poserity. Last week, when I started assembling a family cook-book, I requested favorite recipes from family members. My mother-in-law did not share her famous jambalaya recipe (Drat. Foiled again!) but she did write up a very funny recipe for her eggsistential crisis:

Ingredients: (Note: Not approved by our Test Kitchens.)

1 dozen eggs

1 beautiful day on lake

1 small brain freeze

1 culinary guardian angel


Place eggs in pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Eggs will need to cook for about 20 minutes, maybe slightly longer. Enjoy the opportunity to take a relaxing boat ride with 3-month-old grandson and family. You will know the eggs are done when you suddenly remember, 45 minutes into your boat tour, that you turned on the stove.