I have to admit, a couple of nights ago I had a mini panic attack. I started listing out everything that I wanted to review in these last few days before the exam, upon which I realized that I would be very pressed for time. It was a sudden change from the feeling of general competence that I’d had for the last week or so, and it caught me off guard. So although it was late and I really wanted some down time before bed, I re-opened the outline I had been reviewing and kept going until I literally couldn’t anymore. Then I laid in bed and tried to take deep breaths to calm down, but the exam and a couple of other issues kept floating around in my mind. Things snowballed from there.
I’m not sure what to do in situations like this other than to tell myself that everything will likely turn out okay. And to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, the stuff I have to worry about are luxuries compared to what some other people have to worry about. And finally, to try to take comfort in things that make me happy, no matter how simple and small. In that respect, there are definitely certain things in life that are undeniably comforting to me:
1. A soft, deep couch that I can nap on. I ordered such a couch in late November. It has not arrived yet because I picked a color that had to be custom-made. But seriously, Crate & Barrel, you’re a huge national retailer. It really takes you 3 months to make a couch? Wtf.
2. My bed. I make it every morning, partially because my mother drilled such behavior into me, but also partly because the sight of an unmade bed makes me want to jump back in and bury myself under the covers. I know my weaknesses and I take steps to avoid them.
3. Driving. I had a car in Boston but didn’t use it that much. In LA, though, I drive nearly everywhere. I’d forgotten how much I like driving, listening to the radio and letting my mind wander, or sometimes singing along at the top of my lungs. I like looking out the window and seeing what’s going on in the streets as I pass by different neighborhoods. Even the LA traffic doesn’t bother me that much, though I do wonder why some people persist in honking when the entire street is jammed. Do you really think you’re going to cause some movement just because you’re blaring your horn?
4. Ryan Gosling. Because picturing myself sharing a cupcake with him is my happy place. Okay, not really. I just wanted to mention him gratuitously in this post.
And of course, I have my comfort food. Some of it is stuff that my mom cooks, or that I grew up eating in Chinese restaurants. Other times, depending on my mood, it’s pasta, fries, or something sweet. And sometimes, it’s eggs.
There are few things more wonderful in this world than a runny egg yolk. It doesn’t matter whether the egg is poached, sunny-side up, or fried. That moment when you prick the membrane with your fork and all that golden goodness spills out has got to be one of the greatest culinary joys known to man. But then I get kind of panicky because I want to make sure I mop up all the yolk with my bread before it hardens. My life is hard.
Unfortunately, I have a frustrating tendency to overcook my eggs on the stove (unless I’m scrambling them), and I have not yet tried my hand at poaching. But baking eggs is something that works quite well because the whites will firm up first, and once they do, you just whisk the dish out of the oven and voila, you have perfectly runny egg yolks.
This egg and asparagus gratin is cute and kind of fancy, but it’s super easy to throw together. It’s also super-tasty, with the Parmesan lending a bit of savoriness and the lemon zest a hint of brightness. Make it for a lazy weekend brunch, and take comfort in the things that make you smile. (And if you have a couch, can I come over and just sit for a while? Thanks.)
Egg & Asparagus Gratin
12 stalks of slender asparagus, chopped into 1-in. lengths
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons cream or milk (I used skim milk)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
Butter two ramekins or gratin dishes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large pan or pot, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain well.
Divide asparagus between ramekins/gratin dishes. Break 2 eggs on top of the asparagus in each ramekin. Spoon a tablespoon of cream/milk over the eggs, then sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Set ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until whites are firm but yolks are still runny. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 1 minute longer.
Serve immediately, preferably with toast for dipping into yolks.