Cooking in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue

I have adjusted, again, to not having a full kitchen, but I have not surrendered. I cook as I will. I even make Julia’s recipes!  But ….

…tonight I made a “Cornish Hen” with with spices, and curry, in my toaster oven:


After an hour or so…



With some salad.


I look forward to the time after Easter when I can invite guests and push my tech to the edge.

Cooking is a joy.  You adjust to the circumstances and use the tools available.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, Lighter fare, SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. BLB Oregon says:

    That is one lovely bird. The toaster oven does bring back the memories.

    Speaking of “dorm room” kitchen set-ups, do you use a rice cooker? I have heard that Katie Chin has a good cookbook/ideabook out, but I haven’t gotten a copy from the library to try it. (I test drive cookbooks from the library when at all possible, and then if the book interests me, I buy a copy so the author gets his/her royalties.) If you don’t have a rice cooker, it is hard to imagine you don’t know someone who would be happy to give theirs more use than it is getting, especially if you return it with some good recipes.

    [I don’t use a rice cooker. I use a Creuset sauce pan with cover and it comes out just right everytime.]

  2. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Yours turned out well, Father. Congratulations.

    Some models of toaster ovens, however, are not safe for roasting meats (their design would allow the fatty juices of cooking to spray or to drip into direct contact with the heating elements, which may lead to a grease fire.) It’s important to check the owners’ manual first.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    Very nice! Impressive!

  4. mamajen says:

    You are inspiring, Father. I am too easily put off by minor inconveniences in the kitchen, and goodness knows I have a better set up than you do!

  5. yatzer says:

    That is really even browning in a toaster oven; they usually have hot and cold spots which results in some parts of the dish being burnt and others undercooked. At least that has been my experience. I can’t tell what kind of oven you have. (hint?) [It is a Calphalon – and it has an invection setting!]

  6. Robert of Rome says:

    Hmmm, it is said that Cardinal Bergoglio lived alone in an apartment and COOKED for himself too. Perhaps Father Z and Pope Francis could co-publish a cook book for clerics in apartment living?

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [I’d be happy to help him with his cooking too. That may be the only way I’ll make Monsignor.]

  7. Sissy says:

    That appliance actually looks more like a microwave/convection oven combo. [No microwave. Just toaster oven.] Maybe the hen is covering the exposed heating element you find in a toaster oven. The bird is beautiful, regardless.

  8. BigRed says:


    If your visitors are puzzling over the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue reference I suggest they review early episodes of The West Wing when the lovely Emily Procter’s character, Ainsley Hayes, the token Republican, is assigned to her office, the aforementioned SPTDV. I know this only because at Christmas I was given a Netflix subscription (via Roku) and just watched that episode this past week. While some of the political sentiment contained in TWW are lamentable, there is much nobility expressed as well. (And a whole lot of clever fun.)

    As a former professional cook with culinary school training (in the French tradition) I often marvel at your skill amongst the pots and pans. Indeed, if one is firmly possessed of technique and the methods to employ, regardless (almost) of circumstances, excellent results will be be obtained.
    God Bless!

  9. mburduck says:

    That’s one beautiful-looking Cornish hen. Yum, yum! Eat ’em up!


  10. B.C.M. says:

    It’s not the SPTDV, Father… It’s your kitchen…. Even if you can steam clothes in it…

  11. Mary Pat says:

    Thank you for the explanation, BigRed. But, did I miss what happened to his full kitchen?

  12. acardnal says:

    Why hasn’t “The Chicken” made any comments??

  13. acardnal…

    Maybe that IS “The Chicken”!!!!!

  14. Supper was not an editorial comment about the participation of a certain commentator.

  15. NoraLee9 says:

    Now that I’m retired and hubby is (still) a teacher, we have had recourse to mobile home living. My very small kitchen cannot accommodate a stove. Your “toaster oven” gives me hope. I could put it next to my ht plate!

  16. Just kidding, Father! I really enjoy the comments of “The Chicken”. Though I am jealous of her wit!

  17. FranzJosf says:

    Another possibility:

    In the aftermath of a hurricane (no electricity) on a vacation, it was my turn to cook dinner for three; therefore, I thawed a large Cornish hen, thinking I could light the gas oven by hand. I couldn’t. What to do? In a Dutch oven, with butter and olive oil, I browned the hen on all sides, then made a rack out of celery to place the hen on, filled white wine up to the bottom of the bird and steamed it for one hour or so. Delicious and moist. (The celery was good too.) Who knew? I had never steamed a bird before.

  18. LarryW2LJ says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Normally, I am not a betting man; but I’d be willing to wager that your cooking poultry smelled as heavenly as it tasted.

  19. VexillaRegis says:

    carolina publican: psst, The Masked Chicken is a guy!

    Which herbs are used for a Cornish Hen? It certainly looks delicious….

  20. Vexilla, I know, and have no idea why I typed as I did. Sorry to you, to him, and any poultry I may have offended.

  21. acricketchirps says:

    invection setting

    Snort! Does it work to tan the hides of NSR types?

  22. monmir says:

    Monsignor the Chef? That sounds good. Has it ever been attempted before?
    Everyone should cook, it is good therapy and fun regardless of equipment!

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    Well, it seems like I have caused a chicken fricassee without even opening my beak. The comments remind me of that time my cousin was the main course of a tribe of large Amazon apes. They called the dish, Chicken a la King Kong, naturally, and how can I be a guy when I am a GALiform, hmm?

    Now, I was going to submit a comment, earlier about microwaving a Chicken (sometimes seen being done by very short people led by the San Diego Chicken – gotta think about that one, eh), but I decided to practice silence, today, and this is what I get? Okay, okay…

    [Channeling Jimmy Cagney]

    “Youse dirty rats. You cooked my brother…eowww. I’m gonna get youse for that.

    [Best whiney voice]

    I’m gonna call the cops and tell ’em you’re making a Steam Punk Pipe Distribution Venue in your kitchen with fowl smelling results. I’m gonna tell ’em that you keep naked chickens locked in your freezer. I’m, I’m…I’m gonna tell them that you like ripping the wings of off defenseless little dead cooked chickens…and when they come for you, and they will…I’ll be sitting over in the corner with my best little innocent chick imitation reciting a poem I wrote:

    La la la…(eyelash flutter)

    I think that I shall never see
    a chicken lovelier than…me,

    A chick whose hungry beak is prest
    Against the Calaphon’s flowing breast;

    A chick that looks at God all day,
    her leafy arms to baste away;

    A chick that may in summer wear
    her wings and comb up in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    who now is served with cooked chow-mein

    Chicks are cooked by cooks like thee,
    But only God can mask a…chick like me.

    and, and, then, I’m gonna tell them all about the time my cousin Lenny was publicly insulted by Colonel Sanders and not even in Kentucky! And then…

    Suddenly, the stream of consciousness was interrupted by the Ghost of Common Sense…

    “Chicken (he whispers)…Chicken…”.

    “Who, who are you, frightful sprite (or was that spiteful fright)?”

    “I am the ghost of Common Sense. I haunt the combox and tell bad little chickens that its time to come inside…that’s right, inside. Sit in front of the fire…”

    “Hmm…That looks like a pretty big pot hanging from the chimney…you wouldn’t be trying to…hey! I recognize you! You bought the recipe from those apes.”

    Mwaahaha..That’s right. I’m gonna make Kong Kapow Chicken, tonight.”

    “Not over my dead beak…”


    Will the Chicken escape? Will he become just another recipe in the Gorilla cookbook? Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Masked Cooking…

    Seriously, Carolina Publican, no offense taken, whether I am a guy, gal, or significant other life form (I think that’s a better use for the term, eh?).

    Next time, silence.

    The Chicken

  24. J Kusske says:

    A strip from Calvin and Hobbes comes to mind!
    Calvin: “What if we die and it turns out God is a big chicken?? What then?!”
    Mom: “Just eat your dinner, ok?”

    [For just mentioning Calvin and Hobbes!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  25. happyCatholic says:

    O Masked Chicken,

    Thanks for making me smile. And thanks, acardnal and carolina publican, for starting things off.

  26. Hank Igitur says:

    What happened to your proper kitchen?

  27. VexillaRegis says:

    Hank Igitur: It chickened out.

Comments are closed.