EGGciting Reading

egg book is perfect for readers with a surplus of eggs and a sense of humor

Gus Wolter

YOLKING AROUND. Poultry eggspert Uncle Eggbert (a.k.a. David Tank) inspects the premises with Daisy the hen.
YOLKING AROUND. Poultry eggspert Uncle Eggbert (a.k.a. David Tank) inspects the premises with Daisy the hen.

Egg lovers: rejoice, and egg layers: FLEE! Local yolkel Uncle Eggbert (alias: retired UW-Stout lecturer David Tank) has written a must-read cookbook for backyard chicken owners and protein enthusiasts in general. Uncle Eggbert’s Egg Book is a lighthearted collection of egg recipes, peppered with trivia, science experiments, and fowl-heavy vintage photos and stereographs. It also represents Eggbert’s first collaboration with his feathered family members: Ollie, Daisy, Cleo, and Bernadette.

As backyard chicken keepers know well, the challenge of keeping chickens is eating all of those eggs without getting sick of eating eggs. It was this struggle that led Eggbert to author the Egg Book: “If all you think of is hard boiled, fried, and scrambled, that gets pretty boring pretty quick,“ Eggbert said.

The book includes 55 recipes from a variety of sources, most notably old church cookbooks, Eggbert family favorites, and good old fashioned eggsperimentation (if prompted, Eggbert can recount a truly harrowing meringue pie gone wrong). The sheer variety of egg-based dishes included in the book is staggering. From meatloaf to crab cakes, Uncle Eggbert’s Egg Book opens up whole new frontiers for those with a surplus of pre-birds.

“Some of the recipes you don’t even think about as being egg,” Eggbert says. “There’s a recipe in there for salmon cakes, which I think is one of the best recipes in there, actually.”

It’s hard to imagine that Eggbert the eggficianado started raising chickens scarcely a year ago, and reluctantly at that.

“We had been talking about how it would be fun to have chickens,” he said. “We kept thinking ‘Yea, but it’s going to be a nuisance. They’re going to be dirty, they’re going to be a lot of work’ … And then we made the mistake of going over to Stockman’s in the spring on the day that they had their baby chicks. We came home with four …”

But as he quickly found out, chicken keeping wasn’t so bad. To those considering taking up the hobby for themselves, Eggbert offers this advice: “They’re not as much work as it seems like. Really get them acclimated to you right from the start.”

Uncle Eggbert’s Egg Book is also sure to satisfy those whose interest in eggs is more curious than culinary. Scattered throughout the pages of the cookbook are bits of chicken trivia, egg-related science experiments (Have you ever wanted to melt the shell off of an egg and bounce it like a ball? Me neither, but now it’s all I want!), and antique pictures of people and fowl coming together in peaceful cooperation.

“One of my hopes with this book is that people will just see it as fun,” Eggbert says. “It’s not an intimidating book in any way. And even if you don’t make anything in it, it’s just kind of fun to go through and read the trivia, and look at the strange pictures.” The book’s nontraditional format would make it as well-suited to be a coffee table book in your living room as a cookbook in your kitchen.

Uncle Eggbert’s Egg Book will be made officially available on July 8 at a book release event from 2-4pm in the Volume One Gallery at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire. Book editor David Tank will be on site to discuss recipes and chicken-keeping in general. Anyone with interest or experience in backyard chicken keeping is encouraged to come to share their ideas and ask questions.