Ham I am and pink, I think.
Eggs, I beg, all preened and green.
Stuff with me and I will oink,
“Oh, such porkety eggsqueezeene!”
(With apologies to the masters below)
I’ve long been hooked on playing with words. Small wonder that I was smitten with the books of Dr. Seuss when I was young and later with the equally sophisticated artistry of Walt Kelly’s Pogo. Those masters created playful, amusing and rhythmical rhyming sounds with just words, whether simply twisted into a new shape and sound or totally made up nonsensically.
The fantastical, lyrical and musical words of the Seuss characters are such fun to read out loud over and over again. Pogo broke ground with a depth of meaning that encompassed generational gaps in much the same way as Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.
The sheer artistry of Walt Kelly’s Pogo never failed to blow me away with the detailed swamp flora framing most scenes and the carefully drawn details down to individual blades of grass and the grain of wood in the trees. Then the words and action came to life in a slapstick, vaudevillian manner. The words — how he teased us with his words! Three little bats were named Bewitched, Bothered and Bemildred! Churchy La Femme was a swamp turtle. I still get a laugh out of “The legal league illegal eagle.” (Keep saying that last one until you can say it so fast it becomes one word.) And once you sing the following words to the tune of “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly“, who could resist going back for more?
Kelly included social commentary and political satire in many of his works. Pogo’s most famous quote still remains “We have met the enemy and he is us!” These words come from a poster he created for Earth Day in 1970 which shows Pogo Possum and Porkypine musing over a trash-strewn Okefenokee Swamp.
My first encounter with Dr. Seuss (AKA Theodor Seuss Geisel) was Horton Hears a Who. I think I wore out my copy , reading it over and over. Few know that Horton Hears a Who is an allegory for the American occupation of Japan after WWII and was dedicated to a Japanese friend.
The Cat in the Hat was written in reaction to an article in Life magazine in 1954, called “Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading,” by John Hersey. Hersey was extremely critical of school primers in his article, especially the characterization of children as living “slicked-up lives” and portraying them as “abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls.” Toward the end of his article, Hersey asked:
“Why should [school primers] not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate — drawings like those of the wonderfully imaginative geniuses among children’s illustrators, Tenniel, Howard Pyle, Theodor S. Geisel?”
Dr. Seuss accepted Hersey’s challenge, rolled up his sleeves and went to work for nine months. His publisher gave him a list of 400 words that he thought children would be learning in school. The publisher then told him to cut the list in half and write “an interesting-enough book for children.” He finished The Cat in the Hat using 223 of the original words from the list, plus thirteen that were not on the list.
Several years later Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ publisher, wagered $50 that Seuss couldn’t write a book using only 50 words. (Be wary when you challenge a master of his craft!) The wager was accepted and now we have Green Eggs and Ham, a masterful primer for beginning readers and great fun for the inner beginner in all of us. It is indeed crafted out of only 50 different words.
The author and his wife, Helen, never had any children. To this he replied, “You have them, I’ll entertain them.”
I received my latest Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, as a holiday gift just last December. Even at my stage in life, I squirmed with delight at receiving this and imagining, “Where have I yet to go?” Thank you, Vic!
“You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So . . . get on your way!”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
By now, many of you may be asking, “Where’s the food?” Several weeks ago I shared my early thoughts on this post with my friend and colleague, Karen Owen. Karen told me that she had two hens that lay green eggs, and I begged her to let me have some. I later learned that Mable and Stripes, as she has affectionately named them, are Araucana pullets. Alas, I live in the city and the only barnyard poultry I can have is my collection of Les Poules by Catherine Hunter, seen below gathered quizzically around my little cache of green eggs.
Green Eggs and Ham
As I see them, with no apologies.
All you need is one hen who lays green eggs, some pink ham and a few condiments. Mable and Stripes, along with the other ladies on Karen’s farm, keep our household supplied in delicious farm-fresh eggs. Honestly, any good eggs will suffice here. Mable’s and Stripes’ eggs are like any others on the inside – white whites and yellow yolks.
- 8 large eggs
- 4 slices of ham — I used domestic prosciutto sliced about 1/8 inch (3.175 mm.) thick — remove the tough outer edges, and julienne each slice and then mince.
- 1/4 cup (60 m.) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) minced chives or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup (60 ml.) sweet pickle relish
- Healthy splash of Tabasco® green pepper sauce or to taste
- A splash of Worcestershire sauce
Boiling the eggs:
- Place the eggs in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer.
- Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
- Cover pan and remove from heat to steep for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove eggs to an ice-water bath to cool.
- When eggs are cool, gently tap the eggshell all over, creating tiny cracks while keeping the shell in one piece.
- Add 1 cup (240 ml.) of matcha green tea powder to the water you removed the eggs from and whisk to dissolve powder.
- Carefully lower the eggs into pan and bring to a boil again.
- Cover and simmer for about 1 hours.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs rest in the solution for 1 hour.
- Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and let eggs steep for 2 more hours or overnight.
Stuffing the eggs:
- Remove the eggs from the solution and carefully rinse.
- Carefully peel each egg, trying to leave a perfectly smooth white, er, green skin on each one.
- Cut in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a bowl.
- Add the mayonnaise, pickle relish, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces and ham
- Mix together until smooth enough to pipe into egg cavities.
- Place the yolk mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner so you can squeeze out the mixture to fill the egg cavities.
- Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Bon appétit — and don’t forget to nourish yourself and your family with words too! WORD STEW!!!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities