Pros: Fun, intriguing, and educational memoir material; delicious recipes
Cons: Some recipes could have been a little better
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book (published 20011) provided by Chronicle Books.
Janice Cole, a food writer and recipe developer, decided she’d like to try raising a few chickens for their eggs at home. She did a little research—by her own admission, not enough—and raised three hens from little chicks. Before long she was discovering all the joys of such an endeavor: the love of cuddly, excitable animals; the delight of fresh eggs… the mountain of chicken poop; the problems caused by cold winters; and on and on. Through good and bad, she learned a lot and enjoyed the bounty of her hens.
Janice Cole’s Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes intersperses brief stories of raising and caring for chickens with plenty of recipes for using both chickens and eggs in cooking. Ms. Cole isn’t afraid to share her foolish moments right alongside her strong ones, and the result is touching, hilarious, and highly educational. Certainly if you’re thinking of raising chickens on a small scale, her book will teach you a lot—including whether you’re really cut out for it! I absolutely loved many of the tips and stories, and couldn’t help sharing some of them with the people around me. (When you get to the tale of trying to catch Lulu the hen—you’ll know it when you read it—you’ll laugh out loud!)
There are plenty of lovely recipes in here. The chicken sate was delightful: it’s more of a coconut-curry sauce than the sweet peanutty sauce I’m used to from restaurants; different, but quite delicious. I also enjoyed the raspberry cream shortcakes, although I thought the shortcakes tasted a bit better after sitting overnight (the taste of the egg melded into the shortcake) while of course the raspberry cream is best right away. You might want to make the shortcakes the day before you plan to have them.
I thought the poached eggs over walnut-crusted cheese and whole grain toast sounded divine, but I ended up feeling a little disappointed. The recipe called for goat cheese cut into rounds and flattened out; not only did these not hold together when dipped in egg white, but the cheese was tart enough to overwhelm the egg a bit. I’d also use pecans instead of walnuts, as a further foil to the tartness. Finally, the yolks of the poached eggs used in this recipe were so liquid after the recommended cooking time that the resulting dish was very difficult to eat.
While the recipes have absolutely fantastic ideas and suggestions, as well as some very lovely tips and photos, I did find that the results could use a little tweaking.