Back in March I blogged about cleaning out my Dad’s house in preparation for his down-sizing move (you can read that blog here if you missed it). That process is nearly complete now, with settlement for both his current house and the new house happening next week. We’re in the final stages of clearing out and packing. On Saturday, we helped sort through the kitchen and the linen closet, deciding which items he will be taking to the new (smaller!) house, and which will be given away. Unsurprisingly, Dad agreed that he didn’t need to keep 45 tablecloths and nearly 100 hand towels. He was a little harder to persuade about culling the kitchen gadgets, cookware and crockery, but we managed to whittle the collection down somewhat!

In the process I came across the egg cup plates we used as children. Instantly, warm, familiar memories came flooding back. Saturday nights, 3 little kids in our jammies, scrubbed and fresh from the bath, beautiful whole brown eggs tipped gently from the boiling water with a large spoon into your egg cup, Mum tapping the tops and carefully taking off the lids, a sprinkle of salt, scooping out the white from the top with a teaspoon, then that first wonderful plunge into the soft, oozy yolk with one of the strips of buttered toast we called props*, cleaning out the last of the white with your spoon, being extra careful not to crack the shell, then turning the empty shell over in the cup and drawing a funny face on it. The stuff childhood memories are made of!

I recently discovered that many of my North American friends are unfamiliar with the egg cup – indeed with soft boiled eggs in general – and I have to say, I was a little sad for them! In case that’s you, and you don’t know what you’re missing, here is ‘The Soft Boiled Egg: How to cook, serve and eat it’. (Click the image below to open the page in full view.)

Soft boiled eggs are a breakfast staple in the UK and Commonwealth nations. Experts disagree on the optimal method and cooking time for producing the perfect boiled egg. Mrs Beeton, the Victorian authority on all matters domestic, insisted they be boiled for no more than three and a quarter minutes. TV chef Delia Smith prompted some controversy by advocating leaving eggs in gently boiling water for six minutes. Chef Heston Blumenthal, after “relentless trials”, published a formula for “the perfect boiled egg” detailing how much water to use, how long to cook and how much time to rest the egg.

Soft-boiled eggs are commonly served in egg cups. The top of the egg is cut off with a knife, spoon, spring-loaded egg topper, or egg scissors. Other methods include breaking the eggshell by tapping gently around the top of the shell with a spoon. Soft-boiled eggs can be eaten with toast cut into strips, which are then dipped into the runny yolk. In the United Kingdom and Australia, these strips of toast are known as “soldiers”. A teaspoon is often used to scoop the cooked yolk and white out of the shell so it can be eaten.

The usual time allotted for boiling eggs in the shell is three to 3.25 minutes: less time will not be sufficient to solidify the white, whereas longer will make the yolk less digestible. Great care should be employed in putting them into the water, to prevent cracking the shell.” Isabella Beeton, ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’, 1861

Field to Fork by Seatrout Scraps. Tea For Two by FOREVER Digital Art. North American Road Trip Digital Embellishments from Storybook Legacy by FOREVER. Font: Janda Safe and Sound.

*The usual name for toast fingers you dip in soft boiled eggs in Britain and Australia is “soldiers”. My family always called them props, which I believe is because my Great Grandfather worked in the bush as a wood cutter, cutting props for the coal mines. (Props are slabs of wood used to prop up the roof of the mine so it doesn’t cave in on the miners.)



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16 Responses to Blog: A childhood memory

  1. Karen Bowser says:

    I lived in Brisbane and I have lived in B.C. but never with a local family so didn’t know how to serve the eggs. I have a couple of egg cups that I purchased in England the last time I was there. I have NEVER used them! Now I know what to do with them. I love your explanation, that would be very cute on a metal print to hang on the wall in the kitchen. Would you share the page with me so that I could order it?

    • Alison says:

      Karen, I’m flattered that you like my page enough to want a print of it, but wouldn’t it be more meaningful if you created one of your own using pictures of your own egg cups? I’d love to see your take on this on a metal print project! Feel free to copy the info about soft boiled eggs, which I just researched online.

  2. Maria Wilder says:

    Lovely, Alison! You have inspired me to pull the items from my cupboard and write about them.
    Thank you!

  3. Avril Lawson says:

    Love the memories Alison. We each had our own eggcup in our house

  4. Deanna says:

    What great memories you have and what a great way to share food and culture and traditions! We never had egg cups. But I have eaten plenty of soft-boiled eggs in my lifetime. Love them! In fact, I love eggs prepared just about any way. LOL! I love what you did on these pages, Alison! 🙂

  5. anninfl says:

    Beautiful pages and memories, Alison! I have a few kitchen items of mother’s that I have been unable to part with because of the memories and stories that go along with them. Now to get them scrapped!

  6. Taylor Teresa says:

    That is a very lovely childhood memory. Beautiful page, too.

  7. Ann Marie says:

    What wonderful memories. Here in the northeast USA we often had soft boiled eggs and we did use egg cups.
    Don’t have any that I can find now so I just scoop the egg onto the toast and eat with a knife and fork. Thanks for sharing this one!

  8. adakallen says:

    Memories are good in any language.
    While I do not eat soft boiled eggs, I have eaten my share of fried eggs (white done, yellow runny).

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