a thing of small beauty.



My dad cooks scrambled eggs in bacon grease.

As a kid, I never knew what was in that ceramic mug inside the door of the refrigerator, and I didn’t want to. It looked like Crisco, but it wasn’t pearly white like Crisco. It was tan–a soft, unappealing brown–with tiny flecks of burnt bacon paralyzed throughout the lard. I stayed very far away.

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My dad cooks his eggs low and slow.

Just after the grease melts, the scrambled mix of whites and yolks–no milk–hits the pan with a mild sizzle. Then, my dad waits. He paces just until the eggs start to solidify. He pushes the eggs back and forth, gracefully, with the spatula, until they are creamy, but still underdone. That’s when he adds the cheese–a healthy pile of cheddar or pepper jack. With a couple more turns of the spatula, the eggs are a deep yellow, fluffy, and ready to eat.

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Now I have my own stash of bacon grease in the refrigerator.

I keep it in an aluminum can. I cook my eggs in it, just like my dad.

My 8-year-old has recently taken to making scrambled eggs. Yesterday, he asked me when to put the “corn stuff” in the pan. I was confused since we had gone over the process of making scrambled eggs with him–my dad’s way–and it didn’t involve any corn.(That’s when I realized that the aluminum can that holds the bacon grease is an old Libby’s sweet corn can.)

I took the (corn) can out of the fridge, and we peered down the metal circle together. Sadly, we could see to the bottom; it was nearly empty, with only a few thin smudges left.

I made a passing remark to Stephen: “Oh well, we’ll just cook them in butter.”

“No way”, he said. “We have to cook them in bacon grease.”

(That’s my boy.)

I took out a spoon and scraped the sides of the can, in between ridges, all the way to the flat bottom. I dropped a small mound of grease onto the cold pan. Without celebration, his pavlovian response kicked in and Stephen got to work.

Grease. Eggs. Whisk. Pour. Scramble. Low and Slow.

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My dad ALWAYS cooks breakfast when we visit.

It’s his first question when we stumble downstairs, sleepy, still in pajamas: “Can I make you some eggs and bacon?”

YES. The answer is always YES.

The amazing thing is that my dad doesn’t know how perfect his eggs are and would dismiss the compliment immediately. But, they are famous at my house.

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It’s a thing of small beauty that I cook my eggs exactly like my dad, and now my 8-year-old insists on scrambling eggs the same way–in bacon grease. Even my husband cooks them this way.

Some times we hand things down through our families unaware. And on that morning, when I watched Stephen push eggs across the hot pan, I realized my dad passed down something very ordinary, but strangely beautiful.

He passed down eggs, which is a small thing in itself, but huge because it brings our family together. Those eggs have given us  opportunities to begin our days together, to teach together, to learn together, to cook together, and to be around the table together.

And when my husband makes his world-famous pancakes to go with the scrambled eggs, it’s no small thing, indeed.

  • Dottie Edwards

    beautifully written…pondering the small things and seeking to see more clearly today the impact of love and kindness, family and tender moments!