by Steve Liddick

Every year, when the corn was at the eating stage, church women in my Perry County Pennsylvania home area would make chicken corn soup as a fundraiser. I don’t know if they still do. If so, a bowl of it probably wouldn’t cost a quarter anymore.

Whatever the price, it’s worth it because it was heaven in a paper bowl with a plastic spoon.

My personal recipe, which is a long-standing Perry County tradition, is very simple:

First you steal a chicken

Defeatherize and clean it, boil it down, debone it, toss the skin and bones. Cut the meat into smaller pieces. Save the water you boiled the chicken in.

Then you walk out to a farmer’s field and pick some corn. My dad always said to “Leave the money on the fence.” I would say, “What if there’s no fence,” and he’d say, “Now you have the idea, son.”

Okay, moving on:

You cut a lot of corn from the cob and add it to the chicken and broth.

Now here’s the good part:

In a bowl, you mix an egg and a pinch of water or melted butter in some flour and mix it around until you have a dry dough with tiny eggy-floury chunklets and you drop those—a few at a time—into the boiling soup. Those are called rivels (RIH-vuhls) and they add to the magic.

After it has boiled awhile, salt and pepper it to taste.

There you have it.

But I have to admit, the homemade version is nowhere near as good as those church ladies made.

Maybe it’s because everything tastes better when someone else does the cooking.





by Steve Liddick

Every morning I have two visitors at the door to my little backyard office.

They are Rhode Island Red roosters who have come for breakfast, which consists of about a quarter slice of bread each and a handful of scratch feed.

One is a shy guy who never gets closer to me than a few yards. The other I have named “Big Red.” I call him Big Red because he’s, . . . well, . . . big—and red. He has more personality than George Clooney and I have come to consider him part of the family.

I know you’re not supposed to have favorites among your children, but I have become very attached to the boy. He stands at my feet and takes the bread right out of my fingers. Sometimes, in his exuberance, he almost takes the finger. I don’t hold it against him. He probably doesn’t get any more food than he finds on the ground. Breakfast, after all, is the most important meal of the day.

Red and his pal are not really ours. They are the property of the handyman at the cemetery next door to our little ranch. For us it’s like having chickens without having chickens.

We are hoping that Red is considered a pet by his legal owner rather than as a future dinner because I like seeing the big galoot far more on my office porch than I ever could on a platter. Frankly, I think he is too old and tough for the menu, but the cemetery handyman next door is also old and tough, so who knows?

The prevailing thought about roosters is that they crow at dawn. Indeed they do. They also crow at midnight, 3 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and any other time that pleases them. Maybe I should have named him Pavarotti because when he belts out his song it could be heard all the way to the back row of the opera house—or, in this case—rattle our bedroom windows.

His cock-a-doodle-doo interrupt’s my wife’s sleep. Sherry wakes up if one of our cats sighs. Not me. I have been known to sleep through gunfire, explosions, howling coyotes, and cargo planes that fly low over our house.

Taking Chip the Wonder Dawg for a walk is also a challenge. Before Chip and I go out for his twice-daily walks I have to scan the area for renegade chickens. Big Red and Chip don’t like each other.

Since they are each about the same size, it’s a tossup as to who would eat whom if it came to that.


Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”