Everyone who has chickens will eventually seek out egg recipes and investing in a cook book or two. When you have an endless stream of fresh eggs, you tend to be a little less stingy with your eggs. You seek out recipes that use 3 or 4 eggs. You don’t care if it only uses whites or just yolks because you can give the unused portion to your layers, a sort of recycling.
When I talk about seeking recipes, I don’t mean 32 different omelets each with a different mixture of the same 10 ingredients. I can think up those things without a book. I am talking about recipes that cause you to have an aha moment or make you realize there is more to an omelet than folding cooked eggs over grated cheese and veggies.
My first investment in egg cooking was Julia Child’s Master the Art of French Cooking. I did this for two reasons, it is said that Julia was the authority on omelets and second it had a chapter devoted to eggs, not something you find in many modern cookbooks. It was a great investment I learned lots about egg dishes and how to prepare them. There were line drawings showing how to work your pan and eggs to get them cooked perfectly. It was lots of fun as well, like my own little Julie and Julia experience, limited to eggs.
My second cookbook that shall remain nameless, was a bust, in spite of good ratings on Amazon. I am not sure if it was really a bust, but as a keeper of a small flock I knew what made small flocks special. It was riddled with “truism” as if written by the egg council for large scale egg ranchers to convince us their practices were great for the birds. The author talked about free-range chicken eggs and how we should pay more for them in the grocery store. Free-range sounds great but there is no standard for free-range eggs. It typically means in a commercial environment that the chickens aren’t in cages, and hopefully have to have access to the outdoors. No requirement they get outside, or how much outside space per bird, no requirement for fresh grass, etc. You get the picture. This turned me off and made me look at everything else in the book skeptically. It ended up at Goodwill.
My next book was The Good Egg, a winner of the James Beard and Julia Child awards. It is ok, but it was what I was trying to avoid; a chapter on scrambled eggs, another on omelets, another on baked and poaching. I have made a few things from it but it does not inspire me.
My next book was highly anticipated. I knew of Janice through a foodie friend back in the Midwest and it was because of my friend that I found her blog, Three Swinging Chicks. I followed her blog about her adventures as an urban chicken keeper. She shared not only her bird experiences but also recipes on her blog. Soon Janice was talking cookbook and the anticipation began. I was not disappointed when the book, Chicken and Egg, was finally published. This cookbook includes the story how she came to own chickens in the city and her journey with her chickens. It provides education to those thinking of owning chickens. Her writing brings smiles and nods of agreements from those of us who are already chicken owners. This story is incorporated throughout the book so you aren’t tempted to skip over the tales of her 3 swinging chicks, who are now actually 4 chickens. Each of the stories stands alone, so you can read them as you have time. The book is organized by seasons, which is nice as it reflects use of the veggies that most likely available during each season, the first eggs and spring vegetables, light eating for summer, and more substantial hearty foods suitable for the cold days of fall and winter. Even better was the fact that Janice’s experience with food in the industry made her recipes not more of the same old. They are original works, not rehash of things we have all done before. Her recipes are not so far out in left field that you could not imaging making them; her ingredients are those that can even be found in rural areas with limited selections. It isn’t just cooked eggs, but recipes with eggs in them and recipes with no eggs, but featuring chicken. It has recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner; appetizers to desserts. It has turned out to be one that I not only cook from, but also to sit down and read for enjoyment as well. Chicken raiser or not, I think most folks would enjoy this cookbook.
I have a nice foundation now to cook with my eggs. I still find myself checking out the egg cookbooks on Amazon. When we go to one of the cities with big book stores, I gravitate to the cookbooks looking for a new one on eggs to browse. I am sure there are a couple more cookbooks in my future maybe even one devoted to eggs.