“Always chicken feed! Day after day--- year after year---I’m sick of it!” squawked Big Brown Rooster. “Can we get something new to eat around here? Please? Nobody’s listening. What’s a hungry rooster to do?”
“There’s no hope. Wait a minute…” Rooster remembered a story his mama used to tell, a story handed down from chicken to chicken. The story of his famous great-grandmother, the Little Red Hen.
Rooster rushed into the chicken coop. “It has to be here,” he said. He looked high and low, and there it was at last, hidden under a nest---her cookbook.
The Joy of Cooking Alone by L. R. Hen.
Rooster carefully turned the pages. “So many recipes--- and I thought she just baked bread! Look at the strawberry shortcake!”
“That’s it! I’ll make the most wonderful, magnificent strawberry shortcake in the whole wide world. No more chicken feed for me!”
“Yes sirree---just like Great-Granny, I’ll be a cook! COOK-A-DOODLE-DO-O-O!” crowed Rooster as he pranced toward the big farmhouse.
“Cook-a-doodle-doo?” said Dog.
“Have you lost your marbles, Rooster?” asked Cat.
“You’ve never cooked anything before!” said Goose.
“That doesn’t matter,” replied Rooster. “Cooking is in my blood---it’s a family tradition. Now, who will help me?”
“Not I,” said Dog.
“Not I,” said Cat.
“Not I,” said Goose.
And away they went.
Rooster pushed open the kitchen door. “It looks like I’m on my own … just like Great-Granny.” He sighed and put on his apron.
Rooster dumped the two cups of flour into the bowl.
“Can I taste it now?” asked Pig.
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Next we add two tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of baking powder, and one-half teaspoon of salt.”
“I can do that!” said Iguana. He looked under the table. “But where are the tablespoons?” He looked in the teapot. “No teaspoons in here!”
“No, no, no,” said Rooster. “Don’t look in the teapot or under the table! These spoons are for measuring. Each holds a certain amount.” Rooster measured the sugar, baking powder, and salt, poured them into the big bowl, then sifted all the dry ingredients together.
“Looks awfully white in there,” said Pig. “I better taste it.”
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Now we add butter. We need one stick.”
“I can do that!” cried Iguana. He raced outside and broke off a branch. “How’s this stick?”
“No, no, no,” said Rooster. “Not that kind of stick. A stick of butter.” Rooster unwrapped the butter and dropped it into the bowl.
“That butter is just sitting there like a log,” said Pig. “Maybe I need to taste it.”
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Next we cut in the butter.”
“I can do that!” said Iguana. “Uh-oh. Scissors don’t cut butter very well.”
“No, no, no,” said Rooster. “Don’t cut the butter with scissors. Use these two table knives, like this.”
Rooster cut in the butter until the mixture was crumbly.
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Now the recipe says to beat one egg.”
“I can do that!” cried Iguana.
“No, no, no,” said Rooster. “Don’t beat an egg with a baseball bat! We use an eggbeater.” Rooster carefully broke the egg into a dish, beat it with the eggbeater, and poured it into the big bowl.
“That looks tasty,” said Pig. “Please let me taste it.”
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Now add milk. We need two-thirds of a cup.”
“I can do that!” said Iguana. “Here, hold that glass measuring cup and I’ll saw off a third. We’ll use the other two-thirds to measure the milk.”
“Wait,” said Pig. “Why don’t we fill the measuring cup to the top and I’ll drink down a third?”
“No, no, no,” said Rooster. “The cup has marks on it – 1/3 – 2/3 – 1 cup. We’ll fill it to the 2/3 mark.” Rooster poured the milk into the bowl.
“It surely needs tasting now!” said Pig.
“Not yet, Pig,” said Turtle. “Now we mix the dough and put it in a greased baking pan.” Rooster stirred and spread as Turtle read, “Bake in the oven for fifteen to eighteen minutes.”
“I can do that! Cried Iguana.
Iguana shoved the pan into the oven. “Let’s see, fifteen minutes equals nine hundred seconds. I’ll count them. One, two, three, four ----”
“No, no, no,” said Rooster, and he set the timer so that Iguana would stop counting the seconds. Pig burned his tongue on the oven door trying to taste the shortcake. Turtle studied the cookbook to see what to do next.