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Perfect protein food

By Staff | Nov 26, 2010

Karen Hayes cooks an omelet during a heath fair held last month in central Iowa. Hayes promotes eggs for the Iowa Egg Council about 60 times per year at various events.

URBANDALE – Karen Hayes is what you call an “eggspert.”

That’s what you become after promoting eggs and egg recipes at hundreds of health fairs, conventions, county fairs and all sorts of other gatherings for the past 27 years for the Iowa Egg Council, the checkoff-funded organization that promotes eggs on behalf of Iowa’s egg producers.

She got started in her part-time promotional role after she called the egg council for some information and they, in turn, asked if she’d be interested in working for them. Hayes, who grew up on a farm near Alden and now lives in Urbandale, wasn’t looking for anything like that.

“I had not worked outside of the home my whole life. I was very content to be a stay-at-home mother,” she said.

But when the job was offered, she accepted and her egg education began. For the most part, she said, she knew almost everything she needed from her previous life experiences. She’s always enjoyed cooking and has been comfortable talking to people. “I enjoy the people. I enjoy telling the good egg story,” she said.

Nearly 60 times a year, Hayes said she takes on the role as promoter for the Iowa Egg Council, where she makes delicious snacks, distributes recipes and often is called upon to correct myths about eggs or calm fears about egg safety.

It’s all in a day’s work for Hayes, and added that she doesn’t let blunt questions ruffle her feathers.

During a health fair in central Iowa last month, a woman stopped by her booth and politely declined an offer to eat a freshly made ham, cheese and green pepper omelet. “I haven’t bought eggs since that deal with the egg recall,” the woman said.

Hayes reassured her that the eggs at the supermarket are safe to eat. “If you fully cook the egg, it completely destroys any chance of salmonella,” she said. Hayes kept her sunny-side-up disposition as the woman moved on to another booth.

During a break between groups of visitors to her booth, she kept the egg facts rolling, during a chat with a reporter.

“A day without eggs may be a day without sunshine, because eggs have (more) Vitamin D than any other food except fish liver oil. And, wouldn’t you rather eat eggs?” she asked.

And, later: “The egg is the pure protein food, you know.”

Hayes often makes omelets as part of her role in promoting eggs but she never has lost her appetite for them. She likes the versatility of ingredients in omelets and has experimented with all sorts. Of the thousands of omelets she’s made, however, one in particular stands out – a caviar omelet.

Several years ago, Hayes was working a large convention at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines when a man came in with his own caviar and insisted on having an omelet made with that ingredient, but he was eager to share with Hayes and a co-worker. As one could imagine, it was delicious.

Hayes loves to create and one of her favorite creations from her own kitchen is a dessert omelet. That’s right, the omelet for dessert.

Start with a standard omelet, but instead of adding peppers or ham, she adds cherry pie filling, apple pie filling, crushed pineapples or diced bananas. The full recipe is below.

“May all of your dreams and omelets pan out,” Hayes said.

Dessert omelet

2 eggsand 2 tablespoons of water (or 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of water for a heartier appetite.)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Filling options:

Prepared canned cherry pie filling

Canned crushed pineapple in natural juices

Diced banana

Chopped pecans or walnuts

Apple pie filling or applesauce topped with cheddar cheese.

Use filling ingredientsas desired, typically about 1/2 cupor more of total combined ingredients.

Beat together eggs, water, salt and pepper, if desired, until well blended. In a 10-inch non-stick omelet pan over medium-high heat, heat butter until just hot enough to sizzle a drop of water.

Pour in egg mixture. Mixture should set immediately at the edges. With an inverted pancake turner, push cooked portions from the edges of the pan toward the center so uncooked portions can spill onto the hot pan surface. Tilt the pan as necessary, keeping the bottom covered with egg.

When the top is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, fill one half of omelet with fillings. With pancake turner, fold omelet in half. After flipping the omelet onto a plate, sprinkle a coating of powdered sugar onto the omelet and top with whipped cream.

Chile egg puffs

10 beaten eggs

1/2 cup unsifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pint cottage cheese (small curd)

1 pound jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

8 ounces green Chile peppers, chopped (mild or hot)

Beat the eggs, then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and melted butter. Gently blend in the cottage cheese, jack cheese, and the green Chile peppers.

Pour into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until center is set.

For egg recipes by the dozen, including recipes of cooking contest winners, visit www.iowaegg.org.

Easy-way deviled eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

optional: salt, pepper, sweet pickle relish

Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a quart size plastic bag. Put remaining ingredients in bag with yolks. Press out air and close bag.

Knead until contents are thoroughly blended.

Push contents toward corner. Snip about 1/2-inch off corner of bag.

Squeezing bag gently, fill reserved whites with yolk mixture.

Lemon dill egg salad

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 strips bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

3/4 cup reduced fat ranch salad dressing

Toss all ingredients together and chill for at least 1 hour.

Good with sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves on a French roll.

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