For years, I insisted that we get rid of our old and busted toaster – one that crisped the edges of the bread and left the center still bread – in favor of one that did more.
"What else do you want it to do?" my spouse wondered, before I read off a litany of bells and whistles I needed from a toaster. Could it make bacon? Could it take voice commands? Could it cook eggs?
(Crassly, I joked, "Basically, I want this toaster to eat me out while I'm eating breakfast." They only thought this was kind of funny.)
The real clincher here was that I wanted it to cook eggs. Namely, I wanted it to hard-boil at least 2. "I don't think this can happen," they said, and then explained something about electricity and water.
"No – I've seen this before. I've seen toasters that hard-boil eggs." This was true. When I wasn't paying much attention and idly browsing websites, I had seen toasters with egg-steaming mechanisms attached to them. The steamers were always on the sides of the toasters, with 2 or 4 little indentations to put your eggs and an enclosure overhead.
This revelation puzzled my spouse: "How?"
It never once dawned on me to consider the mechanics of this contraption. "I don't know," I said. "I guess they steam them."
"Amazon? In the store?"
"I don't think you can hard-boil eggs with steam. Are you sure they weren't frying them?"
"No, I'm very sure the eggs were hard-boiling and not frying."
And of course, I could not find any such evidence. Again, this was years ago, back before Amazon was as large and intrusive as it was today and before we lived in a major metropolitan area. Our stores were limited to Walmart and the other Walmart 50 miles away. Anytime we went looking for this mythical toaster-steamer, I came up disappointed. I was starting to look like a crazy person, or at least one who had made up this mythical device.
In fact, maybe even the steamer part of a toaster-steamer didn't exist. Maybe the idea of steaming eggs was too novel of an idea. Maybe they were hard-boiled for a reason. No one hard-steams an egg. The topic came up in conversation with friends once in a while ("I still believe there are toasters with egg-cookers on them!" "Yeah, I've seen those – the little fryers?" "No! The boilers!" "Oh yeah. Wait, do they make those?" "Nina, we've talked about this..."), but for the most part, we dropped the subject.
Until. Just a few months ago.
This is the Hamilton Beach Egg Cooker. It comes with an egg-poaching tray and a built-in timer. It's dead-simple to use: put the eggs in, pour in the correct amount of water, then forget about it until the timer goes off. And you want to know how it works?
YOU USE STEAM. THE EGGS STEAM TO DONE.
I bought this immediately. No, it's not attached to a toaster. I still haven't found that, so maybe I did imagine that. But yes, you can use steam technology to cook your eggs all the way through.
This morning, I ate my steamed eggs in smug silence.