I used to think it was Dave’s fault I didn’t know how to cook. He cooked so I didn’t have to.

But since I retired I’ve done some dabbling. Some dribbling. Once, some daubing. A daube is basically beef stew, only pressed through the mind of Julia Child, so that instead of chopping things up and pouring liquid over them, you have to assemble cinnamon stick orange zest thyme bay peppercorns parsley cloves celery onions garlic carrots bacon wine friggin’ COGNAC and (oh by the way) start yesterday. There’s beef in there somewhere too, I’m almost sure of it. It’s good. Plain beef and carrots and potatoes are good too.

But it really is Dave’s fault that I never picked up much cooking expertise from him. If I ever asked him anything, like “how long do you cook a baked potato,” he would say “until it’s done.” Thanks! It’s not like I would have remembered anyway. For me to learn something it has to be pushed into my brain really hard and really often, and one has to be careful to pound the bung in with a mallet first so it doesn’t all shoot out the other end. I have now been cooking for ten years or so and the only thing I don’t have to look up is how to toast pecans and how to make rice, although I still have to double-check the rice thing sometimes. Dave’s ability to assess the contents of a refrigerator and then whomp it into a meal using only salt and his neurons is an ability I do not share.

Fortunately, there is the internet, so I’m not flying blind. Except sometimes. I’ve taken to hard-boiling eggs lately. It took me a while to come up with that bright idea. I would buy a carton of eggs and use one in, say, lasagne, and then three months later there I’d be with eleven old-ass eggs. I don’t do much baking anymore and that’s where the eggs used to go. BUT with hardboiled eggs I’m only minutes away from egg salad or deviled eggs! Minutes, I say! If they’re already peeled.

Problem. Often as not, my peeled eggs look like golf balls, complete with dimples. So I looked it up. The internet is very pleased with itself. It unrolls pages of links to perfect boiled eggs that are a snap to peel. Why, all you do is cover the eggs with an inch of cold water in a pan, bring to a rollicking boil, cover, take off the heat, and set the timer for 12 minutes. Immediately plunge into ice water for ten minutes.

Oh wait. Actually, you should boil three quarts of water. And you should keep it boiling the whole time. And it should be nine minutes. Or seventeen.

Oh wait. Don’t boil them at all. Steam them. Also, take them out of the fridge for a half-hour before you cook them.

Oh wait. You should cook them straight out of the fridge. And use old eggs.

Immediately plunge them in that ice bath, though, for ten minutes. Oh wait. At least fourteen minutes. But in any case, immediately. Oh wait. You should crack them just a little bit before plunging them in the ice bath.

Then put them in the fridge and peel them later. Oh wait! Peel them under the ice bath water while they’re still warm.

Add a little salt to the boiling water. And a little vinegar.

Also, if you’ve put your eggs in the fridge and can’t remember if they’re hardboiled or not, there’s a handy trick, assuming you didn’t mark them with a Sharpie because you don’t have the brains God gave a hammer. Why, all you do is put them on the counter and give them a spin. The raw eggs will wobble vertically. The cooked ones will spin in place horizontally. Murr’s tip: spin ‘em right off the counter and onto the floor. It’s foolproof.

The recipe from New York Times Cooking says “If your goal is perfectly smooth, blemish-free boiled eggs that jump out of their shells every single time, I’ve got bad news: No technique in the world can promise that level of perfection.” That’s why I went with their version. Credibility. No salt, no vinegar, and also? No ice bath at all. Works pretty good. But I do have some tips of my own.

Add a heap of sharply-worded verbal abuse before peeling your eggs and, if necessary, during. Don’t spare their feelings. One website referred to eggs as having “air-space indentations on their fat ends.” You could start with something along those lines and roughen it up as needed.

Me, I have no air-space indentations on my fat end. I have blown out a pair of shorts or two.