After some time away, it always takes a day or so to reestablish myself in the kitchen. Although the refrigerator is usually lacking some ingredient I need or crave, the thought of trekking to the store minutes after unpacking never feels like a worthwhile endeavor. Let it wait until tomorrow.
What follows the arrival, the mail sorting, the laundry starting, the opening windows to let some fresh air in, and the dog walking, is the question of what to eat. Having decided against going to the store, and tired of eating out, I'm left with a few choices that can be made from the pantry, plus anything else that survived our week away in the refrigerator.
Eggs can welcome you home, fuel your morning, or even make a light supper. As an ingredient, eggs are incredibly versatile, and need little more than proper seasoning. I was glad to come across this poem when I did, because of the meal suggestions, "baked tilapia, omelet, tomato tart," the combination of eggs and herbs sounded especially appealing.
By Linda Parsons Marion
Overrun with it now, those few sprigs planted
to soften edges of flagstone and spice up
my soup, thyme chokes the parsley, running
rampant and bold. I shear it back—lemon thyme,
wooly thyme, mother of all thyme. Beneath
the profusion, gravel and dirt moist and black,
innocent of sun, high summer. Air mingles
the suppers ahead: baked tilapia, omelet, tomato tart.
Such abundant thyme on my hands, what we crave
as daylight sifts through our fingers. Fistful tangled
on the counter, the rest sweetens the brushpile.
Next month I'll be crushing it underfoot, wild
as ever, more than I can possibly use. Time
soon enough to revise the path taken.
From Pudding Magazine 53 (Summer 2007). Reprinted with permission from the author. Her most recent poetry collections can be viewed here, and here.
From the first line, word even, we are entangled with thyme. This is the trick plants play with us. They begin as mere seeds, innocent in our hands, then what was intended as a simple solution to "soften edges of flagstone and spice up my soup," turns to an assault, our lives "overrun." But once the plant is tamed, sheared back, divided between the kitchen and brushpile, the sheer abundance of it all has been accepted.
I can't help but find a lesson in here. We encounter these experiences all the time. A decision we make, like giving advice to a friend, accepting or denying a job offer, or merely imagining our lives being different than the present moment, can change the trajectory of things, or surprise us. At first, what appears overwhelming and smothering, like thyme let loose in a garden, eventually offers abundance. Where we once had none, we now have choices: Chop some herbs for an omelet, add it to the brushpile, trim it back. Not every obstacle has to crush us. What matters is what we do with the opportunity.
The end of December is the ideal time to embrace what may come, in the garden or in life. So have some eggs, read a poem, and I wish you all a wonderful new year!
FRIED EGGS WITH HERB OIL
This is less of a recipe and more a series of suggestions. The ingredient amounts can be modified to your liking. Feel free to mix and match your herbs based on what you have available.
4 slices rustic bread, grilled
1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped chives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat some oil in a saute pan over low heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and yolks are set. While the eggs cook, chop your herbs and stir with oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. You want the herbs to be fairly thick, so they're not drowning in oil. Remove eggs with a spatula and place one on each piece of bread. Drizzle the herb oil over the top and serve.