eggspressions and eggshortations


    “The egg is to cuisine what the article is to speech.”
                                                        ~ Anonymous

Well, it’s official.

I’ve turned into a chicken.

Every night, I hit the hay, and in the morning, I get up before the crack of dawn and crow.

I spend most of my time pecking away at a keyboard, bobbing my head to and fro, occasionally clucking. Mostly I don’t make a peep.

Everywhere I look, I see fowl language:

good egg
bad egg
rotten egg
egg on
let’s get cracking
don’t put all your eggs in one basket
egg nog
egg on your face
lay an egg
goose egg
golden egg
nest egg
walk on egg shells
egg in your beer
go suck an egg

rule the roost
fussing like an old hen
dumb cluck
hen party
feather your own nest
put up a squawk
hatch an idea
chicken out
pecking order
hen pecked
cock ‘o the walk
crack up
mother hen
madder than a wet hen
chicken scratch
rufffle your feathers
stick your neck out
cock sure
nobody here but us chickens
in a stew
chicken in every pot
cock and bull story
empty nest syndrome
bird brain
play chicken
tough old bird . . . 

and I’ve even learned some new ones:

a duck’s egg — no score in cricket

as sure as eggs is eggs — thought to be a corruption of a mathematical formula

curate’s egg — good in parts

I have eggs on the spit — I am too busy to do anything else

to crush in the egg — to stop something before it has started

show him an egg and the air is full of feathers — a variation on counting one’s chickens before they are hatched

the mundane egg — some early civilizations believed the world was egg shaped and a bird was often depicted having ‘the mundane egg,’ the fledgling world, on a primordial sea

there is reason for roasting egg — there is always a reason why something is done in a certain way

like as two eggs — identical

to take eggs for money — to be imposed upon

egg-trot –a cautious trotting pace, like that of a person carrying eggs to market

a hen on a hot griddle — Scottish equivalent of a cat on a hot tin roof, a restless person

              Uh-oh. I just remembered something.

It’s April 1st. Egg-chicken month is over. Gizzards! The yolk’s on me. I am such a fool.

Never mind . . .

~ In Gainesville, Georgia, the chicken capital of the world, it is illegal to eat chicken with a fork!

~ One punishment for an adulterous wife in medieval France was to make her chase a chicken through town naked. The source doesn’t say whether it was the chicken or the wife who was naked.

~ The closest living relative of the T-Rex is the chicken.

               So did he cross the road or what?


free range pickins: eggstra-large, grade A egg picture books!

Good morning my little chickadees!

Guess what’s for breakfast? A dozen good eggs that are worth peeping into. Just for your dining pleasure, I’ve gathered up some of my favorite eggy picture books. Not an easy task, mind you, with so many good ones in the hen house.

Before I get to the even dozen, a word about the cute miniature boxed set pictured above, Demi’s Dozen Good Eggs. Each of the twelve egg-shaped books features a different baby animal, and they are sized proportionately: the biggest book is the baby protoceratops, then ostrich, flamingo, crocodile, platypus, on down to baby anteater, painted turtle, snake, duck, chick, parrot, and finally, hummingbird. Each book contains a simple story about the featured animal, with pen and ink drawings. (A nice choice for the novelty book collector.)

TODAY’S BREAKFAST MENU (all books suitable for children ages 4-8 and peckish adults):

1. The Surprise Visitor by Juli Kangas (Dial, 2005). A charming story about a mouse named Edgar Small, who tries fo find a home for the lovely blue egg which has rolled up to his doorstep. Endearing woodland animals deny parentage, but help Edgar tend to the “roundish thing” by adding personal touches. Reassuring and absolutely adorable.

2. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, pictures by Shelley Jackson (FSG, 2007). Definitely one of my top three favorite picture books from last year. Great reviews from Jules of 7-Imp and Fuse #8, for this Cybils 2007 winner. The paint and mixed media illustrations have to be seen to be believed, and the girl narrator’s voice is real real real. Outstanding!

3. Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco (Philomel, 1988). A timeless classic about Babushka, who paints marvelous eggs for the Easter festival, and Rechenka, the injured goose that she rescues. The newfound friends gently build bridges of understanding with a miracle or two thrown in. A Reading Rainbow Selection featuring the intricate designs of Ukranian egg painting, which can be enjoyed year round.

4. An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston, pictures by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2006). A sublime nonfiction picture book that is suitable for older kids, too. It celebrates the beauty, diversity and wonder of a large variety of eggs, from hummingbirds to dinosaurs to gulls to vultures. Beautiful watercolor paintings. Kris Bordessa writes about illustrator Sylvia Long here.

5. Chicks and Chickens by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 2003). Another nonfiction picture book featuring a healthy serving of facts and diagrams about chickens and people interacting with them. Learn about the life cycle from egg to embryo to hatchling to adult, as well as different breeds of roosters.

6. Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski, pictures by Henry Cole (Dutton, 2006). Time to crack up in this giggly tale about four chickens who fly the coop when a wolf comes calling. They are terrified by everything they encounter, until they stumble upon the threat in his own “back yard.” Rhyme and repetition make this a great read aloud.

7. Henri, Egg Artiste by Marcus Pfister (North-South Books, 2007). Henri becomes tired of decorating eggs in the same old way and becomes inspired by some of the great masters, including Monet, Van Gogh and Da Vinci. Not just an Easter book!

8. The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow (Floris Books, 2007). I’m cheating a little here, because the egg in the title is really an orange, but I had to include this wonderful Swedish fantasy about a woodland fairy who finds what she thinks is a “sun egg.” A lovely adventure ensues with all her tiny friends. The illustrations are worth the price of the book alone, and will make you want to become tiny, too.

9. My Life as a Chicken by Ellen A. Kelley, pictures by Michael H. Slack (Harcourt, 2007). Follow the perilous adventures of Pauline Poulet, who flees the hen house when the farmer starts looking at chicken recipes. She encounters a fox, a pirate, and a typhoon in this rawkous, squawking frolic just this side of crazy feathers. Great rhythm, rhyme, and energy keep this tale a-sizzle in the frying pan.

10., 11., and 12. SEUSS SCRAMBLE: Horton Hatches the Egg (1940), Scrambled Eggs Super (1953), and Green Eggs and Ham (1960), all published by Random House. Nobody can crack an egg like Dr. Seuss. You’re probably familiar with Horton’s undying loyalty while sitting on lazy Mayzie’s egg, and Sam-I-am’s enthusiasm for green eggs and ham (4th bestselling children’s book ever). In Scrambled Eggs Super, Peter T. Hooper decides it’s time to put a stop to boring, plain old scrambled chicken eggs. He searches far and wide for some wacky, exotic animal eggs — like the Single-File Zummzian Zuks, who stroll through the mountains with eggs on their thumbs! Endlessly zany and satisfying.

BONUS BOOK: When Chickens Grow Teeth, a French tale from Guy de Maupassant retold by Wendy Anderson Halperin (Orchard Books, 1996). Oo la la la la! Big, brawny Antoine, cafe keeper and lover of cream puffs, is bedridden after falling from a ladder, and is forced by his shrewish wife to hatch chicken eggs under his arms. A tender story with gorgeously detailed ink and watercolor illos, brimming with the warm, rustic flavor of the French countryside. Bon Appetit!

What are your favorite egg books?

“I did toy with the idea of doing a cookbook. The recipes were to be the routine ones: how to make dry toast, instant coffee, hearts of lettuce and brownies. But as an added attraction, at no extra charge, my idea was to put a fried egg on the cover. I think a lot of people who hate literature but love fried eggs would buy it if the price was right.”  ~ Groucho Marx

a clucky conundrum for all you eggheads


A man was walking down a road carrying a basket of eggs. 

As he walked he met someone who buys one-half of his eggs plus one-half of an egg.

A little further he meets another person who buys one-half of his eggs plus one-half of an egg.

Later he meets another person who buys one-half of his eggs plus one half of an egg.

At this point he has sold all of his eggs, and he never broke an egg.

How many eggs did the man have to start with?

Seven eggs!

The first person bought one half of his eggs plus one half of an egg (4 eggs). This left him three eggs. The second person bought one-half of his eggs plus one half an egg (2 eggs), leaving the man one egg. The last person bought one-half of his eggs plus one-half an egg (1 egg), leaving no eggs.

 Here’s your treat if you got it right!

Happy Easter!!



Oh who that ever lived and loved
Can look upon an egg unmoved?
The egg it is the source of all,
‘Tis everyone’s ancestral hall.
The bravest chief that ever fought,
The lowest thief that e’er was caught,
The harlot’s lip, the maiden’s leg,
They each all came from an egg.

The rocks that once by ocean’s surge
Beheld the first of eggs emerge —
Obscure, defenseless, small and cold —
They little knew what egg could hold.
The gifts the reverent Magi gave,
Pandora’s box, Aladdin’s cave,
Wars, loves, and kingdoms, heaven and hell
All lay within that tiny shell.

Oh, join me gentlemen, I beg,
In honoring our friend, the egg.

~ Clarence Day, 1874-1935

‘Tis the season for eggs, the Christian symbol of fertility, and I’ve got eggs-actly what you need for Easter dessert.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you flan. (Pronounce it flawn for the Spanish version, flan to rhyme with man, for the English.)

No matter how you say it, it’s totally yum. Believe it or not, flans date back to ancient Rome, when chickens were first domesticated and kept for laying eggs. Borrowing the Greek cooking method of blending eggs with milk/cream/other liquid, the Romans liked their flans savory, using choice ingredients such as eels (eeewww)! But they weren’t totally bonkers. They also made sweet flans flavored with honey.

Flans continued to be popular in Europe during Medieval times, especially during Lent, when meat was forbidden. It eventually branched out into two distinct versions. In Spain it became a sweet custard flavored mostly with caramelized sugar, and in England, where pastry crusts are beloved, flan turned into more of a tart/pie with nuts, fruit, as well as custard filling. Fans of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series might remember the flans made and “scoffed” by several characters in each adventure.

Maybe, like me, you’ve been a lifelong lover of custard. Custard pie, warm or cold, is always a treat. But the entire custard family, including creme brulee, creme caramel, and custard sauces such as creme anglaise, or zabaglione, which is made with sweet wine rather than cream, are just as wonderful. If you feel like drinking your custard, there’s nog. If you want to spread it around or use it as a filler, there’s lemon curd. And if you’re in a refined, delicate mood, try pots de creme.

Now, for Easter, what about a classic creme caramel? It can be made ahead, chilled, and then turned out just before serving. You can bake it in individual custard dishes, a standard pie plate, or any other baking dish with smooth sides. Enjoy!

(serves 6-8)



1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, until the syrup turns amber. Do not let it get too dark, or it will be bitter; also, keep in mind that once the caramel is removed from the heat, it will continue cooking for a few seconds. Immediately pour the caramel into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate or round shallow baking dish, tilting it so that the caramel evenly coats the bottom. Set aside.


2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
6 large egg yolks

Heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan until small bubbles appear around the edges; do not boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Set the caramel-coated pie plate or baking dish in a large baking pan. Set a kettle of water on to boil.

Remove the vanilla bean from the milk mixture and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture; discard the pod. Add the sugar, return to the heat and stir over low heat just until the sugar is dissolved.

Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until blended. Gradually stir in the warm milk mixture until blended; try to avoid making the mixture foamy. Place a strainer over a large glass measuring cup and strain the milk mixture into it. Let stand for a few minutes to allow any bubbles to subside.

Pour the custard into the pie plate or baking dish. Place the baking pan in the oven and add enough boiling water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the pie plate or baking dish. Bake until a small sharp knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and, protecting your hands with oven mitts, lift the pie plate or baking dish from the water. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 12 hours.

To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge of the creme caramel. Place a shallow bowl or deep platter over the top and invert the pie plate or baking dish. The flan will unmold onto the plate and the caramel sauce will surround the flan. Serve cold.

TIPS:  2 tsp pure vanilla extract may be substituted for the vanilla bean.
Be careful of splatters when melting the sugar — the mixture is very hot.

Source: The Good Egg by Marie Simmons (Houghton Mifflin, 2006.)




i just have to ask

Chickens simply cannot make up their minds.

Did they come before the egg or after?

Is the sky really falling?

And then there’s the big question that completely drives me crazy: why the heck did they cross the road?

You do have to wonder who started this riddle to begin with. It supposedly first appeared in print in a New York magazine, The Knickerbocker (1847):

. . . There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?’ Are you ‘out of town?’ ‘Do you give it up?’ Well, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!’

What’s strange about this riddle is that you expect a funny answer, but you don’t usually get one. Huh?

Whatever. All I know is, everyone seems to have an opinion:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Aristotle: To actualize its potential.

James Cagney: It crossed twice. The dirty double-crosser.

Dick Cheney:  We need to battle the chickens overseas, so we don’t have to battle them at home.

Bill Clinton:  Define chicken.

Darwin:  Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically predisposed to cross roads.

James Dean: To prove he wasn’t chicken.

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death.

Bob Dylan: The answer, my friend . . .

Amelia Earhart: She could have flown.

Martin Luther King, Jr.:  I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

Timothy Leary: Because it was the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

Chico Marx: It couldn’t. It was a rubber chicken.

Groucho Marx:  Chicken? What’s all this talk about chicken? Why, I had an uncle who thought he was a chicken. My aunt almost divorced him, but we needed the eggs.

Harpo Marx:  Honk! Honk! Honk!

Jack Nicholson:  ‘Cause it ****** wanted to. That’s the ****** reason.

Obama:  In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of chickens, or a politics of roosters?

Oprah:  To avoid mad chicken disease.

Plato:  For the greater good.

Arnold Schwartznegger: It will be back.

The Sphinx: You tell me.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Walt Whitman: To cluck the song of itself.

Zsa Zsa Gabor: It probably crossed to get a better look at my legs, which thank goodness are good, dahling . . .

Live Journal friend and Dylan fan (yay!),

, also posted some chicken crossing-the-road answers here.


If you’re still wondering, consult the Psychic Chicken Network.

EXTRA CREDIT FOR WRITERS:  How would the main character in any one of your stories or novels, answer this question?