Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cookbooks: Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole

The title of former chef and restaurant owner Janice Cole’s Chicken and Egg (Chronicle) gives only a hint of what might be inside. With a look at the title and the elegant but homespun cover, one imagines something altogether more ordinary than the book Cole actually delivers. I mean, ordinary is here, as well. Breakfast hashes and baked eggs. But what one doesn’t -- can’t -- expect -- are the other components. Cole’s warmth and wit and charm, for one. And the very complete look at cooking with both chicken and eggs that this turns out to be. As a result, Chicken and Egg is both surprise and delight. The book includes 125 recipes and is, also, a “memoir of suburban homesteading.” Add in some really great photos by Alex Farnum and you’ve got the whole package: and it really is a very good book, indeed.

Cole, who lives in urban St. Paul, decided to get chickens when faced again and again with inferior chickens and eggs in the market. She wanted a superior product and set about doing something about it. It happens that Cole has not been alone. All over North America, homeowners are adding small chicken coops to their backyards in order to enjoy something special that our (not so distant) ancestors took for granted. If this is something you’ve done or considered, then Chicken and Egg is the book for you.

Cole shares her journey in a warm and witty style but, because of her strong food background, she adds another layer and, as a cookbook, Chicken and Egg is very strong. This is cookbook that anyone who likes cooking with both chicken and eggs (though not necessarily at the same time) will enjoy. The recipes are highly varied, imaginative and terrific and everything I tried yielded very good results. Highlights for me included Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad, Lemon-Spike Chicken with Sage, Tagliatelle with Saffron Chicken and Blueberry Sour Cream Tart. I could go on, but that gives you a taste.

Chicken and Egg
is a very good book, and there is likely much more to it than you’re imagining. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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