My pops shouts through the bathroom door and asks me what I want for breakfast as I take my morning bath. My 7-year-old, frothy, shampoo-covered head replies, "I don't care! Green eggs and ham!" I emerge, towel dry, put on my school clothes and hit the kitchen.
On the table are emerald-green scrambled eggs, and a slice of ham, darkened with green food coloring. I am one of probably very few people to have tasted green eggs and ham. It tastes a lot like ... eggs and ham, though my mouth and tongue were dyed green all day from the massive quantity of food coloring my dad used to achieve the effect.
In honor of that day and the release of the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, here's a verse I made up:
I would eat them in a race
I would eat them off your face
I would eat them with a czar
I would eat them Sam You Are
I promise to try and avoid future rhymes and phrases like, "Hoop-Soup-Snoop Group Potato Soup is loopy goop." But I'm not saying it’ll be easy.
On the contrary, half the fun of the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook is in recipe titles taken from Dr. Seuss stories—Zans Cans Chili, Fritz-Fed Fred Food Feast or River of Nobsk Corn Off the Cobsk. The other half is comprised of illustrations and photos, straight from your favorite books by the good doctor. The other, other half is the recipes themselves, twists on common favorites that are, for the most part, easy to prepare.
I do wonder, though, exactly who this book caters to. Young fans will probably find Who-Roast-Beast (a roasted chicken with mushrooms and sage) difficult to accomplish without a good deal of assistance. Adults might find the recipe for Daisy-Head Mayzie Burgers, complete with a ginger cookie stuck right in the bun, repellant. Author Georgeanne Brennan writes that each recipe was concocted with the goal that there should be components for kids to achieve with supervision. It's likely geared toward the kind of parent who would think to dye their kids' breakfast food in the first place. There should probably be more of those, anyway.
I like that the recipes here don't call for anything you can't find at a regular grocery store. Having to travel far and wide in search of an expensive spice I will never use again is usually the first black mark against any cooking adventure. The visual nature of Seuss' presentation seems to be key to most of these dishes. The bookmakers opted to construct imperfect, brightly colored plates in the style of Seuss, but that's not the kind of dish that lives in my cabinet. Garish plastic cups and plates will probably suffice.
Drinks are where it's at with this cookbook. They're innovative and easy to whip up. Club soda mixes with any juice for a quick foaming treat that doesn't have to be filthy with delicious sugar. The most complex and funnest (Yeah, I said funnest. Seuss approves.) to look at is the Pink Yink Ink Drink. A dark blackberry mulch sits at the bottom of the glass. A frothy light-pink strawberry/honey-milk mixture is poured on top for an awesome, two-tone beverage.
As for the fabled egg-ham dish, Brennan cheats with guacamole-covered fried eggs and cilantro-coated ham, a gourmet (and probably tastier) version of the dye job I consumed so many years ago. Still, you'd be hard pressed to convince me hers is better.
Green Eggs and Ham
Makes 12 servings
1 fully cooked and smoked ham, about 8 to 10 pounds
1 cup apple or mint-apple jelly
3 medium tomatillos, husked and minced
1 cup minced cilantro leaves, or 1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves and 1/2 cup minced parsley leaves
4 ripe avocados
Juice of 2 large limes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white onion, minced (optional)
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced (optional)
4 ounces butter or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other light cooking oil, such as canola or sunflower oil
12 pasteurized eggs (pasteurization is necessary for safety when yolks aren't fully cooked)
For the Ham1) Heat the ham as directed by the package instructions. Let cool to almost room temperature, about 20 minutes.2) Mix the apple jelly and the minced tomatillos together to make a glaze. Spread the glaze all over the ham, except on the cut side.3) Using your hands, gently pat the cilantro, or cilantro and parsley, into the glaze until it’s solid green.For the Eggs1) Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. With a spoon, scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Mash it with a fork, then add the lime juice and salt, and, if you want, the onions and chiles. Mix again.2) In a large frying pan, melt the butter or heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, crack the eggs into the pan.3) Cover the pan and cook until the yolk has a pale white film over it and is somewhat firm. 4) With a spatula, gently slide the eggs onto plates or a serving platter.5) Spoon the guacamole over each yolk, covering it. Serve immediately with slices of green ham.
Pink Yink Ink Drink
Makes 1 serving
1/2 pint fresh blackberries, or 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, thawed
1 cup milk
6 fresh strawberries, green tops removed, or 1/2 cup frozen, thawed
1 teaspoon honey
1) Purée the blackberries in a blender.2) Pour the mixture into a large glass.3) Put the milk, strawberries and honey in the blender and blend.4) Strain the mixture to remove seeds (optional).5) Carefully pour the strawberry mixture on top of the blackberries.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 3/4 cups whole milk
1 egg, well-beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries plus 6 extra berries for decoration
1/4 cup orange juice
Prepared whipped cream topping
1) In a medium-sized saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar with the tapioca, milk and egg. Mix well, then let stand for 5 minutes.2) Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a full, rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and orange zest. Cool for 20 minutes, then stir. May be refrigerated and served chilled.3) In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of raspberries, the orange juice and the remaining tablespoon of sugar, then purée.4) Pour the purée through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds, then drizzle the sauce in swirls over the top of the pudding.5) Just before serving, top each bowl of pudding with a little whipped cream and a berry or two.