I Can’t Boil an Egg!

Confession No 4: My husband taught me

I married young. I had just turned 22, got married and moved to New Zealand with my new husband. We lived on mince and sausages because we couldn’t afford anything else but I liked to have people over for dinner and there were very few weekends that we didn’t. I could cook fairly much anything you asked me to, except the basics. Beef Wellington, fried camembert, lobster mornay* were a cinch, but I couldn’t cook a roast, my cakes were hard, flat discs and I couldn’t make a soft boiled egg! Hard boiled egg? No problem just put it in water and boil the crap out of it, but a soft egg was beyond my skills. I know, the shame, the shame…

My excuse was that my parents always had an egg cooker**. If I wanted a soft egg, I just pricked the bottom, put in the requisite amount of water and flicked the switch. Voila! But once I got married, there was no egg cooker and I had to learn. Luckily my husband was from good farming stock where everything started with the basics. He taught me how to soft boil an egg and how to cook a roast so that everything was ready at the same time – his cakes weren’t so good, although he did make bread once…..

So I wasn’t really surprised at the latest research that says no matter now much Masterchef we watch, very few of us can soft boil an egg. Well, Masterchef probably isn’t the right forum to learn how to boil an egg but it got me thinking about the importance of learning the basics: cooking a roast, making a simple pasta sauce, a classic casserole or stew, and yes soft boiling an egg. I know how to do all of these things now and could do them with my eyes closed***, but I wonder if I’m in the minority. So over the next while I thought that I would revisit the classics for those of you who could use a tip or two.

Today we’re going to start with, yes you guessed it, the humble soft boiled egg. It’s so easy but don’t do it with your eyes closed…

The Soft Boiled Egg

You’ll need:

1 large egg (or however many you are cooking)
1 saucepan of water
A timer (I’ve got a handy digital one on the fridge)

Let’s go

Place the egg (or eggs) into the saucepan and cover with water (but only just by about 1 cm). Heat on medium until the water starts to boil gently. Turn the timer on for 3 minutes making sure the water doesn’t boil too violently. Remove the egg and voila! If it’s an extra large egg, let it sit in it’s egg cup for a minute before you take the top off to ensure the white is cooked. If you remove the top of the egg and the white is still a little uncooked, just put the little lid back on and let it sit for a bit as it will continue to cook. If you like your eggs medium (soft but no runny yolk), cook for an extra minute.

Confession Time: What can’t you cook?

*Okay, it was the ’80s
**In fact, my mum had every kitchen gadget on the market
***Except for turning the gas on which could be quite painful, not to mention irresponsible….


Indulge without guilt
Eat without deprivation
Cook great food even when you are on your own
Embrace food moods
Eat what you want



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