In the cool of an early Spring morning I discover the congealed white lake of the slow-cooked lamb ribs at lowest sea floor level of the large cast iron pan.
The whisking sound of steel tine on glazed ceramic belies the resistance to amalgamation, having enjoyed their biologic shell-cased apartheid, of yolk and egg white, vitamin rich fat and albumin protein. The raw yellow lake of breakfast lies gooey waiting for the pan.
Since eating fatty meats… or maybe I am a lazy house keeper, I don’t wash the iron pan nor iron baking dishes, very often. I delight in showing cereal and Lo-fat milk chomping nieces and nephews the joy of cooking eggs in butter. Then wiping the pan clean with some absorbent paper towel. Then keeping that paper towel to use as a woodfire stove fire starter that evening.
Their mothers had taught them as their mothers had taught them from the 1970s that high fibre, don’t look at the sugar content on the nutrition label, breakfast cereals are healthy with skim milk. They had grown into 20-somethings despite this advice I also once believed.
Getting back to pan washing. Not literally, subjectively. I notice that sometimes after a demonstration of butter wiped clean pan cleaning, Mrs Bear will give the “humour him” look to incredulous in-laws and soapy detergent wash the pan, then put it through the dishwasher taboot. I know I have used taboot incorrectly there.
The heat melts the cool white into glistening clarity. I call the rendered lamb fat tallow. But its tempting sea is deep. Too deep. I pour it off into a baking dish in which later to roast some dog dinner vegetables. She poos better with vegetables. The dog. She is the shiniest Labrador in town.
The pan shine remains and the assembled eggs sizzle into their blanket from the bowl. Salt dusts them. Remnant cheese is scattered atop. Then watched. The cheese melts and bubbles saying it is time to fold. The omelette comes away easily golden brown from its hot congress with the slick pan.
There was that time when the cast iron camp oven became too deep in accumulated beef and lamb tallow and the black suffusion suggested potential carcinogenicity like a deep fryer at the local fast food trap house. So I heated it up poured off the first part into a bucket quartered with porous calcium carbonate based sand. Then I scraped out the tenacious congealed bits. Finally wiping the black tempered cast iron with paper towel to make a fire-lighter. What to do with the weird grey clay? I took it deep into the food forest and dug a grave. The cylinder plopped out like a wet sandcastle formed in a castle pail at the beach. I covered it over. A few days later a hole I found in the forest the empty space testament to the night sneeking snout of a rich coated shiny vixen.
Back into the bowl the omelette slides and picks up a further glaze of raw yolk to complement the tallow. There is a fluffy resistance to the fork push and melted cheese oozes from the cut.
There is one nephew who now regularly, instinctively cooks butter and salt omelettes for breakfast. Still eschewing added cheese. He is 20 years old and has always been his mother’s child. Never having to lift a finger nor cooking utensil. But he has learnt to cook the simplest of omelettes. He craves them. Now, he can survive away from the nest in a world that substituted fast junk food for mother’s non-cooked hunger driving breakfasts.