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To produce a simple and well-known dish like scrambled eggs there are probably as many methods as there are preferred outcomes. Some like their eggs well done, with a firmer texture; others favour a creamier, sauce-like result — and there are all points between. It is the same with boiled eggs — people become very passionate about exact timings and outcomes. Perhaps Emma was a supporter of the more creamy scrambled egg. She uses the older name, buttered eggs, with its hint of luxurious richness, while ‘scrambled’ has overtones of haste and carelessness. She also includes cream. As for the final result — much depends on how you interpret her use of the word ‘rough’. Whatever you prefer, the foolproof way of ensuring you obtain the exact required consistency is to use a double boiler. It takes longer and so you have a better chance of judging the precise moment when perfection has been reached. Emma’s way of first heating the butter and cream together has much the same effect and makes it possible to achieve an excellent, creamy result.

For each egg:
• 1/4 ounce butter
• 1 tablespoon double cream
• Salt and pepper

In a bowl beat the eggs until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.

In a heavy pan heat the butter and cream, over gentle heat, until the butter has melted and the mixture
begins to bubble.

Pour in the beaten eggs and, stirring gently, cook until you have the consistency you like.
Serve at once on slices of buttered toast.

Looking into when ‘buttered’ became ‘scrambled’ revealed that the former also refers to a method of preserving eggs for use in the winter months when hens go ‘off lay’. The new-laid egg is coated in butter while still warm. As the egg cools the butter, having been absorbed into the porous shell, solidifies and forms an air-tight barrier. Carefully stored these eggs then kept for several months!

Recipe from Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book: Revived and Illustrated
by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway (Glitterati Inc., November 2008, $35.00/hardcover)



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