Tag Archives: cooking

Phoenix Eggs

phoenix hens eggs in cartonThese beautiful little eggs are from my great nephew’s Phoenix hens.  They’re maybe half the size of a large supermarket egg.  But they’re twice as flavourful.  I think that has more to do with the fact that the hens live a normal chicken life instead of being in a small cage in a battery chicken farm.  These hens live in an outdoor coop with a run so they can move and peck and do normal chicken things.

boy holding Phoenix henI’ve seen hens like this at chicken shows but never in a backyard coop.  That’s because they are considered show birds not laying birds.  I asked why they didn’t have a rooster.  The answer was that the roosters have enormously long tails and they’d have to build an extension to the coop to accommodate him.  And yes, what I read online is that you do need extra tall perches for the roosters.  It’s from Phoenix rooster and henthe length of the tail feathers that the breed was given its name.  The roosters look like the Phoenix bird of myth.  The hens, at least those with this plumage, to me look like they’re wearing necklaces.  That’s what I’ve always called them, the necklace hens.

Googling them, I read they’re not prolific layers.  But these five hens usually each give an egg almost every day.  What more could you ask for?  And broken eggs in dishthey’re perfect eggs:  good hard shells, deep yellow yolk and lovely taste.

I scrambled three eggs, cooking them until they had just set, then put them aside on a small plate.

eggs, broccoli and riceI stirfried some broccoli, then added leftover cooked rice to heat through. Lastly I put in the cooked eggs and lightly mixed it all together until heated.  The eggs turned leftovers into a whole new, and delicious, meal.

egg fried riceWhen I get a chicken coop built, some Phoenix hens will be living in it.  I read that they aren’t noted as particularly friendly, but the ones I met were.  Came right up to me and let me scratch their heads and pet their feathers.  No running away or pecking at me, just inquisitive and friendly little birds.  Little birds who lay lovely eggs!

Cooking: Basics

Cooking xmas2000I’m a self-taught cook, and not a great one. But I enjoy it, find it relaxing (usually) and like to experiment.  I have cookbooks and use them, but also know you can take ingredients and come up with something delicious and all your own.  When you do, write down what you did so you can make it again!

My mother always made home-cooked meals.  She didn’t enjoy cooking and hated a messy kitchen.  So baking cookies with Mom didn’t happen.  We were allowed to hang around as long as we didn’t get in her way and we got to clean out the icing bowl when she was done.  When I moved out on my own, it would have helped if I had some kitchen experience.  But with the help of friends and cookbooks, I learned.  That was fun too.

Cooking potluckWhen my mother realized I was a pretty good cook and, more amazing to her, that I enjoyed it, she said “well, I don’t know where you learned that! Sure wasn’t from me.”  No, Mom, it wasn’t. But I learned what a good home-cooked meal tasted like from her, and that you can make them from simple ingredients without spending a lot of time at it.  I also learned that, even if she tells you exactly how she did it, you can never make one of your mother’s meals and have it taste as good as hers did.  But that’s ok too.  It keeps childhood and your mother special for you.

My mother’s cooking method showed me how easy it is to clean up dishes and counters as you go along.  Rinse and stack cooking utensils and wipe counters while you’re waiting for something to finish.  You see the value when you sit down for your meal in a relatively clean kitchen, and afterwards when you don’t have to face a splattered counter full of pots and ladles with congealed food dried on them.

When I started cooking, I was a student or working at low-paid jobs. I had little money. But, since Mom didn’t rely on processed or ‘fast-food’ for our meals, it cooking plum tomatoesnever crossed my mind to do so. I cooked cheaply with real ingredients. Why buy canned kidney beans for chili if you can get dried ones for less and just remember to soak them before cooking? That made economic sense and I’ve learned that it makes nutritional sense too. If you cook from the ‘rawest’ form, you control what goes into it more than if you buy already processed products. Cooking from ‘scratch’ but using packaged vegetables and seasonings might make a meal home-cooked, but the sodium and preservatives in it is dictated by the manufacturers, not you.

The Joy of Cooking
Amazon link for original Joy

In this section, I share cooking and preserving methods that I’ve learned from other people and books or by trial and error. It’s not a cookbook but might supplement yours. The indispensable cookbook for me is The Joy of Cooking. I like the older version, just in case I ever need to know how you cook squirrel.

I took the top photo of a Christmas dinner made by my husband, sister and me. The middle photo is of a potluck meal provided mainly by my paternal aunts and cousins. They like to cook. My father-in-law photographed his end-of-season plum tomatoes. The Amazon link below left is to the “new” Joy version (‘lighter’ cooking, no squirrel), on right is a basic cookbook that sounds good for those who really do not know how to cook.

If you don’t eat it, don’t cook it

This was the stupidest meal I ever made, even though it worked out liver dinner with onions - cooked rightfine. When I was young and foolish, I invited a young man I was trying to impress for dinner. He liked liver. I didn’t. But I decided to make a liver dinner for him, despite never having cooked it or even knowing how it should taste.

Advice on cooking a liver dinner (don’t!)

I called my Dad and another liver-liking friend. One said cook it high and fast, the other said low and slow. I didn’t have a cookbook, or know anyone else I could consult. So I did both. Fast over high heat for a little while, then slow over low heat for a while. It looked horrible but, in my opinion, cooked liver always looks horrible. I can’t remember what else I made – fried onions, potatoes and vegetables maybe. I didn’t eat any of the liver. My young man did, and said it was good. What else could he say?

Thinking about that meal later, after I’d learned more about cooking and dating and dinner parties, I wondered what exactly I had been thinking. But it served as an illustration for me of a few key points about cooking, especially for others. Making him an edible meal from something I liked and knew how to cook would have impressed him just as much. Second, eating the food you cook is always the best way to know how the meal is. Third, a good cookbook is worth the investment for times when your dad isn’t around or you get conflicting opinions. My intentions were good, but the way I expressed them – well, I imagine he dined out many times on the story of that liver dinner.

My husband, who likes liver, says his favourite way to do liver and onions is to go to an old-style restaurant where they cook it on a regular basis.

Here’s the recipe for the liver and onions pictured above – not mine!