Wednesday, December 31, 2014


There is nothing so comforting to me than cooking.  And when I'm cooking for someone else, it's all the more satisfying.  It's New Year's Eve!  It's the first one I've spent alone in 10 years.  My sweetie is in Hawaii visiting his daughter over the Christmas break. How lucky is he, and how lucky is she!  This year it's me and my little man, Matrix.   He's kinda like - ok, mom, whatever.  But he's good company!  I mean -- how entertaining is that photo of him on my desk.  This is a fairly regular pose whenever I'm on my computer.  He needs to make an appearance.  He even feels the need to walk across the field of view whenever I'm on a Skype call.
--We are enjoying the fire I put in the wood stove tonight. It's going to be really cold tonight.  Down into the 20's I think.   I made myself a small shaker of Cosmopolitans to last through the evening while I cook and write my blog.
As many of you know, I haven't written a regular blog for a long time.  I've been posting shorter posts on FB  about what I've been cooking. But blogging allows me to
share a few more details.  Well, what it really does is allow to me tell you more than you really want to know about what I'm doing, cooking and thinking.  Who cares right?  It doesn't matter.  Blogs allow people to say whatever they want no matter what anyone thinks.  I guess we figure that if you don't like what we have to say, you won't read it, right?   But I hope I don't get to that point - where you don't want to read anymore. 
Tonight I'm starting dinner for tomorrow - New Year's Day!  I've invited a friend to come for an early dinner of a traditional European meal of Pork Roast with Sauerkraut and Dumplings.  Later we'll watch a movie that came in the mail from Netflix "The Hundred Foot Journey".    Big surprise- it's a foodie movie about restaurant owners! 
Unfortunately, since the grocery didn't have a proper pork roast in the in the refrigerated case, I had to improvise.  I had to get some country style ribs, and a few pork steaks.  You have to have some bones in the roast to get the flavor you need, so the ribs will add that flavor and they are very meaty.  Instead of roasting all this, I've put it in the crockpot.  Layered with sauerkraut, sautéed onions and sliced garlic, it should turn into a succulent dish with lots of flavor!   A light sprinkling of caraway seed will add that distinct flavor that only caraway seeds can give to this dish.
Of course this meal needs something else.  Just pork and sauerkraut does not a meal make.  So I'll make home made dumplings to toss with the drippings that the pork will render with the sauerkraut.  The recipe for the dumplings can be found at my post for Chicken Paprikash  at How to make Nokedli (Hungarian dumplings)
Did you know that Pork is a traditional New Year's dinner because it is believed that because pigs root FORWARD as they search for food, it is symbolic of moving forward in life.  And because Pigs "used to be" so fatty, they also represented prosperity with all the fat and richness of the meal.  So serving a pork roast was to represent a year of prosperity to come to those who prepared and ate it! (The fact that I didn't use a big fat pork roast cuts way back on the fat that this roast  will render, but not on flavor!  Using ribs will give the kind of flavor that you can only get with cooking meat on the bone!It's also a good example of how you can improvise when what you really want isn't available.  I would have preferred a nice Pork Butt for this!)
 I also wanted to make something that would be a nice contrast to the Pork and sauerkraut, and although it too is cabbage, I chose to make sautéed red cabbage with apples and onions.  It is sweet and delicious!    This is a small head of red cabbage sliced as you would for slaw, sautéed with a sweet onion. 
Just sauté a large sweet white onion in a little olive oil, add the red cabbage and a grated sweet apple, salt pepper and voila!  A succulent healthy side dish! 

I'll post some more pictures of the completed meal tomorrow!

I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year!  I've learned that gratitude for what you have can open the doors for allowing more good fortune to enter your life.  Be grateful and prosper!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I'm finding that some of my most satisfying times are when I'm in the kitchen cooking and the kitchen is turning into a big mess.  I usually clean up as I go, but sometimes I look up from what I'm doing and find that I've made a huge mess.   It's at these times I realize I don't have $1,000,000 to give to someone to take care of all the mess I've made.   But my reward for cleaning up after myself is the satisfying, savory, sometimes sweet concoction I've made to eat. 

Today, I had to clean out the garage.  Been putting it off way too long (try 4 years!!).  My former life left a giant pile of STUFF in there that I have no idea what to do with.  So, most of it is now trash.  After part of the morning and good part of the afternoon of sorting through junk and trash, I came inside with a sore back and was famished.  Fortunately, I took some chicken out of the freezer in the morning and  had intended to slow sauté in a cast iron skillet with a weight on it to make it crispy. 

I placed the bone-in, skin-on thighs in my preheated cast iron skillet after coating them with some salt that I blended with oregano and basil, and some finely chopped rosemary.    I then placed another cast iron skillet on top of them and turned the heat to low.  I let them cook slowly and get very brown, turning them at least three or four times.  The skin rendered all of its fat and got super crispy, and the chicken was tender and juicy. 

It took almost 45 minutes on low heat to get them this way.  But it was worth every minute.  Succulent, crispy chicken without having been breaded or coated in any way.  And all the brown bits left in the bottom of the skillet, I scraped up and put on paper towels to drain.  Crispy, salty, herby crunchy bits of heaven!!!

In the meantime I had posted a picture of the little harvest of vegetables I picked today.  Some tomatoes, green peppers and banana peppers.  My younger sister reminded me in a comment of dish that we loved as kids.  Leco (pronounced lecho).  A concoction of sautéed onions, green peppers, tomatoes and some kind of smoked sausage.  When we were kids, it was always polska kielbasa.  As I didn't have any on hand, I used what I had in the freezer. These days when I make it I use Smoked Turkey Sausage.   I had some Hot Links Smoked sausage. They are a bit spicier. As I love spicy food, I thought these would be fine. 

So while I'm browning the herbed chicken, the Leco is in the making.

Everything from the garden!!  What I thought were onions turned out to be shallots - from my garden!   So I chopped all I had and cooked them on medium heat with the sliced sausage while I chopped the banana peppers I picked, and the tomatoes I picked into chunky pieces.  Added everything to the pan and cooked for a minute or two before adding about 1/4 c. ketchup for that sweetness that ketchup gives, and about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for richness.  I let this simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes. No salt or pepper was needed because the sausage was both spicy and salty. I added a palm full of fresh parsley, also from my garden. 

In the meantime, the chicken was done.  So I pulled one out and devoured it without any accompaniments.  So savory and crispy and succulent!  When the Leco was done I thought I would not want to taste it since I just ate a piece of chicken.  WRONG!  I thought I should taste it and it was soooooo good.  Even better than I remembered it as a kid.  Mom used to make it a lot!  We usually enjoyed it over rice if I remember correctly, but with some good bread would also be wonderful! 

It just occurred to me, this recipe needs to be in my cookbook!!

Monday, June 30, 2014


Tonight's post had to be more than just a FB post.  It all started with a purchase on the weekend of a small basket of peaches from a local grower.  5 big fat juicy peaches for $4.00.  Maybe a little expensive, but supporting local growers is something I like to do. And as a bonus, I get perfect produce.  I never quibble over the price, and neither should you.  Growing  perfect local produce is an art and you won't get it in the grocery store most of the time.  So now I had these great peaches. 

Had one for breakfast this morning  and decided it was one of the best peaches I ever ate!  So juicy and sweet!  This evening on the way home from work I wanted to pick up a couple of seltzer waters, but naturally, browsed the store while I was there since I was in no hurry.  I found a package of just 8 small pieces of sirloin kabob cuts - under $3.00 for the package!!.   Well ....  just this afternoon I went to Marshall's to browse for a  minute or two at lunchtime and found a bottle of "A Cup of Coffee Steak Rub".  Coincidence?  Maybe. The kabob sirloin was only 8 small cubes.   Coffee Steak Rub, you found a grill pan to jump into tonight!  I already has some baby zucchini and a couple of those peaches from the local farm stand. 

The steak got coated with the Coffee Rub.  The sliced zucchini and quartered peaches got lightly salted and peppered with fresh ground pepper and a little olive oil and skewered onto long flat skewers  (flat skewers help to keep the food from spinning on the skewers).  You really need to use a touch of olive oil to make sure foods grill/broil nicely when   exposed to the flame.  Grilled to perfection! Well, no, maybe not.  I will confess - I over cooked the beef a little, I like it PINK!! But ---- my friends --  the peaches and zucchini and  the steak were delicious! Use the broiler or the outdoor grill! Cook it the way you like it!  The more rare, the more flavor!  But no judgments here on how you like your steak!  The coffee flavor stood out prominently on the beef and  was so distinctive and savory.  If you are a coffee lover, you will appreciate the tones of the coffee that are left behind as you enjoy the steak bits.  I had considered asking a friend to stop by and dine with me on his way home, but it was already late and didn't want to impose on his time.  But I WILL make this again for us!!  So delicious and fresh!

Don't be afraid to experiment with flavors!  The coffee rub was great on the steak, as it was meant to be. It will be equally good on chicken or pork tenderloin or some nice lean chops.  The peaches and zucchini were happy to be on my plate and will be just as good with other cuts of meat.

It would have benefited from a serving of rice with some smoky flavor.  But I enjoyed it naked - without any dressing or cover-up!  Low carbs, high protein, low cal.  I didn't want for anything when I  ate it.

As most of you who read my Blog posts know, I like to just create as I go.  Please!  DO that!  There is no better way to find out what flavors go together!  Creativity is the MOST valuable tool in the kitchen!  A fail now and then, leads to WIN WIN every now and then!

Monday, May 26, 2014


Happy Accidents really do happen.
After nearly a week off from work, I wanted to use up the leftover roasted chicken I made for munching during that week, and the chicken stock I had on hand after making that roasted chicken.  I roasted it with lots of herbs, lemons and salt and pepper.  It was really good in the Chicken Pasta Salad I ate all week, full of diced pears, dried cherries and lots of seasonings.    But there was still some chicken left, and that chicken  stock. 

So I pulled it all together in a soup pot and started raiding the vegetable drawer and the freezer.  A packet of frozen mashed cauliflower (it thickened my soup beautifully) a packet of frozen spaghetti squash, a few fresh carrots sliced up, a small zucchini diced up into smallish pieces, two spring onions from the garden, and 4 spears of asparagus picked this afternoon diced into small pieces.   Use up everything!

After I got it all into the pot and started stirring everything, I couldn't see the pieces of spaghetti squash.  ???  Where are they?  A minute or two of wondering what happened, I realized I had used a packet of coconut rice pudding I made about two or three months ago - not spaghetti squash!!  Well, the rice was certainly okay in the soup, but coconut and vanilla!!!  Ugh!  They were the same color and so sure of myself, I didn't label the packet they were in.  (Needless to say I was WRONG and I was NOT going to throw the whole thing out!

Coconut rice pudding in Chicken Soup! What a blunder!  But wait!  I know that Thai food uses a lot of coconut in its cuisine.  So I went in that direction.  I started adding lots of other ingredients.  Sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and I had some sheets of Nori - that stuff you use to wrap sushi rolls, and cut them up into small pieces and tossed into the pot as well.  Corn.  I found a packet of  corn cut from the cob that I froze last summer, so that went into the pot as well.  Sweet and savory!

So the whole point of today's blog is creativity!!  All I can say is that if you aren't afraid to experiment, disastrous mistakes can turn into very Happy Accidents~ ~

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Herb Pesto Pasta

After a long day in the garden and yard, I still felt like messin' up my kitchen when I came inside to find something to eat.   And while I write, I listen to "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison.  A song that has haunted me now for several days.  One of those tunes you just can't get out of your head and maybe some of the best lyrics and music ever written.

Anyway, after cleaning up all the piles of yard waste I created, I was famished!!!! Ravenous!  I trimmed three big maple trees, several small trees and pulled tons of weeds!!  I was so busy I didn't think about eating, so when I came inside, all I could think about was eating!!!   A few final clean up chores outside took me to the herb garden and I decided then and there I would make an herbal pesto.  I had already picked several herbs that were in the fridge and didn't have any walnuts to make a traditional pesto of walnuts and basil.  So I used the herbs I had in the refrigerator and since I had no walnuts, I used some cashews I had on hand and some pumpkins seeds.  I toasted about a half cup of those while I washed and chopped herbs for the blender to make the pesto.   In the meantime, I cooked some penne pasta.
So here's what I did.  I combined all the herbs you see here: chives, oregano, basil and parsley, 4 cloves of garlic, a small chunk of parmesan, and a 1/2 c. of grated parmesan in the food processor.  When the nuts were toasted I put them in the blender too and blended everything until it made a beautiful paste with olive oil (about 1/2 c) a little lemon juice (maybe 1 or 2 T), salt and pepper. When the pasta was aldente, I drained it and put a serving into a bowl and mixed  about 3 T of the pesto into the bowl of pasta.     It was delicious with a small glass of white wine!    I can honestly say I may have preferred it to traditional basil pesto!
Pesto doesn't have to be just basil and walnuts!  Use whatever herbs you have on hand and whatever nuts you have on hand. Don't let traditional ingredients in a recipe stifle your imagination!   It's sure to turn out delish!

The leftovers were made into a pasta salad.  I poached two small turkey cutlets, cut them into slices and mixed them with the leftover pasta and some more pesto! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Making herb blends is something I like to do and one of the ones I like the most is made with powdered dried mushrooms.  It's hard to find anything but dried shitakes around here so I shopped on line for a full one pound bag of dried Oyster Mushrooms.    I also ordered 8 oz. of dried Portabellas. 

Most of the dried mushrooms I buy get made into a powder using my spice grinder.  I keep a jar full of the powdered mushrooms on the shelf all the time.  I use it in all kinds of dishes: soups, meatloaf, eggs, salad dressings, and it's great on beef or chicken for roasting or coating veggies to roast.  The dried Oyster Mushrooms were delivered on Friday so I wanted to use some right away.  My first thought was mushroom soup.
Using dried mushrooms versus fresh makes for a much richer mushroom flavor.  The instructions on the package suggested rehydrating in boiling water for 15 - 20 minutes and at least 25 minutes of cooking time. My niece suggested soaking them overnight.  I'll try that next time. When I chopped my rehydrated mushrooms, I think I should have cut them smaller - small enough where you feel like you don't need to chew them.  They were a little tough but I must say I kind of enjoyed the chewiness.  They were kind of meaty.  So I decided that the recipe I provide will give you the option to puree the mushrooms for a silkier soup.  I didn't puree the mushrooms, but I think next time I will try it that way.  Then I'll sauté some sliced button mushrooms to add.
Here's the recipe.  Reading over the ingredients, I'd say this is a very healthy soup!

2 oz. dried oyster mushrooms (about 1 c) (any kind of dried mushroom will do)
2 c. boiling water
1 T. dried shallots (or use 1 small fresh shallot diced finely)
1 T. Maggalicious Mushroom and Herb Powder *
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. sea salt (or to taste)
2 c. beef stock (or water or vegetable stock can be used)
2 c. water
2/3 c cream or half and half, or fat free evaporated milk + 2T butter (I used the latter)
2 T rice flour (or regular)
2 - 3 T fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
Sautéed sliced mushrooms (optional for garnish)

In a medium bowl, add the dried mushrooms and cover with boiling water.
Let stand for 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, place in colander and rinse and drain well.
Pour the rehydration liquid from the mushrooms through a coffee filter or paper towel and add to a small soup pot.
Add the dried shallots, dried thyme, Maggaliscious Herb Mix* water and beef stock to the soup pot.
Set heat at medium low and let simmer.
Meanwhile chop all the rinsed and drained rehydrated mushrooms into very small pieces and add to the pot.

Let simmer for 30 minutes. **
Turn heat to medium.
Add the flour to a little water and mix well, pour into the pot. 
Let this come to a bubble to help thicken the soup a little.
Add the milk or cream and the butter if you are using fat free evaporated milk.
Let this simmer for at least 30 minutes.

** There are a couple of options here.  If you want the soup to be somewhat chunky
with mushrooms, leave it like it is.  Rehydrated mushrooms have a tendency to stay a little chewy though. If you want it to be silkier, use your stick blender, or your kitchen blender to puree most of the mushrooms in the soup.  Then you can always slice and sauté some button mushrooms to add to the soup.

*Maggalicious Dried Mushroom and Herb Seasoning Mix is a blend I mixed myself.  It contains powdered dried shitake mushrooms, dried basil, dried oregano, dried onions and dried  garlic, all blended together. So just add a few extra pinches of these herbs and spices to your soup.  If you are interested in a jar, let me know.  I also have blend for a pizza seasoning, and several flavored powdered sea salt blends.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I'm addicted.  And I didn't know how bad it was until two nights ago when I just had to do it again.  

I had already eaten my dinner. There were left overs in the refrigerator, but I just had to cook!!  Hi, my name is Maggie and I'm a cook-aholic. This is where I feed my addiction; on this little corner of countertop space and my stove top.

I cook every night.  Even if I don't eat it that same night, I want to cook when I  get home from work. I just can't help myself.  I suppose some of it is habit.  I spent more than half of my life married and always cooked dinner every night.  Friday night when I got home from work, I found the low fat pimento cheese spread I made in the refrigerator and some rice crackers, so I had a little cheese and crackers for dinner.  It was really good, but something was missing.  I wanted to cook.  So I set to looking at what ingredients I had in the fridge.  As soon as I opened the fridge door, I knew what I would make.  I had a package of chicken tenders, Greek yogurt, mushrooms, a box of chicken stock and a jar of preserved lemons that I made about a month ago.   My niece in California posted a recipe on FB she made using preserved lemons and I wanted to try it.  So she gave me her recipe for the lemons.  (That's another blog, or you can go to her blog  I think the  preserved lemon recipe is posted there).  When I made my lemons I used fairly large lemons so I cut them into quarters.  I used one piece in my recipe and after tasting, I decided to add a second piece. So much better!! Preserved lemons taste like lemons, of course, but they aren't sour or bitter.  Just intensely lemony.  They are "pickled" with salt, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and pepper corns.

So the dish I saw when I looked around in the refrigerator was Chicken  Stroganoff with Preserved Lemons.  I gathered a few more ingredients:  garlic, shallot, salt, pepper.  Here's how I made it.

8 - 10 small chicken tenders
1 t. salt
2 T olive oil
10 - 12 mushrooms, sliced
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced finely or pressed
2 pieces of preserved lemon, rinsed and cut into very thin strips
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 container of non fat Greek yogurt (you can use low fat or fat free sour cream)
1 T rice flour
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Lightly salt the tenders.

Slice the mushrooms and set aside.  Mince the shallot and set aside.  Mince or press the garlic and set aside.  Slice the lemon into very thin strips, turn them and cut across to make the strips a little shorter and set aside.  Measure the chicken stock, mix in the rice flour and set aside. Now you have everything ready.  It goes fast and it will only take a few minutes to put this together.

In a large skillet, over medium heat add the olive oil when the skillet is hot.  Add the tenders and sauté on one side only until they are lightly browned on that side.  Should take about 5 minutes all together.
Use a spatula to lift the tenders and turn over to let them cook for just a minute.  They don't have to be finished cooking yet.  Remove the tenders to a plate.

Add the mushrooms immediately to the same pan.  When they have cooked for a minute or two, add the shallots and garlic.  Cook until most of the liquid the mushrooms release has cooked away - probably 3 or 4 minutes.

Stir the rice flour in the chicken stock and add it to the mushroom mixture in the skillet.  Keep stirring over medium heat, add the lemon pieces and stir until the sauce thickens a bit.  If it gets too thick, add a little more chicken stock.
Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt and stir it in well. Be sure not to make the heat too high here, the yogurt will curdle.  If it does, don't worry.  It's not spoiled, it just looks different.  You can still eat it and it will still be delicious!  Add the tenders back to pan along with any juices that may have run out.  Let this sit on low heat for about 5 minutes to bring it all together and finish cooking the chicken.

It's done! A nice grind of black pepper and I ate mine with just a small piece of Nan - and Indian flat bread.  This would be delicious served over wide noodles, on a baked potato, or even over rice.  Steam a nice bunch of broccoli, asparagus or green beans to serve along with it. When you taste this, you'll understand a little better why I'm addicted to cooking.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

When It's Really, Really Cold ......

When it's really cold, colder than usual, even record breaking cold temps, there is nothing like a bowl of your favorite soup.  I make a lot of soup, and I've made many, many different kinds of soup.  I took a dish from my childhood, Chicken Paprikash, a Hungarian kind of stew, and turned it into a soup.  My own version of Olive Garden's Tuscan Sausage and Kale Soup and a silky pureed carrot soup with tarragon of my own creation for my vegetarian friends, are some of the stand outs.  Hmm, some day I should try and take an inventory of the different soups I've made over the years.

I used to do a monthly Soup Night October through March each year and invited approximately 30 people each month.  I did that for about 6 years.  I often made two kinds of soups for my guests.  One "featured" soup, and another for those who preferred a vegetarian bowl or weren't a fan of the "main" soup.  I love having people at the house and it was the perfect, casual, easy prep way to have as many people as I wanted.  I even had a "guest chef" a couple of times when someone else wanted to feature their own favorite soup recipe.

I came across this soup recipe about a year ago and I wanted to try it. It sounded like it would be really delicious and so comforting.  Sweet Corn and Chicken Soup.  I can't claim that it's my recipe, but I've made it often enough I don't need the recipe any more. The name of the soup is somewhat deceptive.  It's so much more that corn and chicken!  It's a recipe I found at Food Network TV from Arti Sequeria, and Indian girl, whose recipes are mostly Indian cuisine.  I don't know what drew me to the recipe, but it may have been all the ginger. It also has egg drop in it which I love! At the time I saw her make this on television, I had only recently discovered how much I loved fresh ginger in recipes.  So I set out to get what I needed to make it.  I made it on a Saturday afternoon because I could see it would take a while - a couple of hours to get it together because everything is from scratch.  It requires poaching chicken gently with warm and savory spices and vegetables.   Lots of sliced ginger perfumes the broth, and then more fresh grated ginger is added later.  

The recipes calls for canned cream corn.  Canned vegetables are not something I use much. Each season I buy several dozen ears of local sweet corn, blanch it and cut all the kernels off to freeze for the winter.  I thawed and slightly warmed some of the corn, added some of the stock from the simmering soup then used my stick blender to make my own creamed corn to add to the soup.   It's really the only change I've made to the recipe, unless I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.  Using chicken on the bone is essential to make a rich and hearty stock. The canned corned is perfectly acceptable if that's what you prefer to use.

One other note about the recipe at the site: As I read the instructions I noticed that it says to add the Ginger-Garlic Paste.  This ingredient is not on the ingredients list.  So I just pressed two cloves of garlic into the soup at the point where instructions said to add the ginger-garlic paste.   Tweek as you please, more ginger, more garlic, whatever you like.
So if you want to try this lovely soup, I have two pieces of advice.  Read the recipe all the way through since there are several steps and it helps to do them in order.  Secondly, make it when you have the time at home while you are doing other things.   If you like this soup as much as I do, you will feel like the time you spent making it is worth every minute.  This is the 5th time I've made it.  I never tire of it and I'll make it again and again.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I've heard numerous tricks and tips about making the perfect poached egg.  Swirl the hot water so that the egg "comes in on itself" to stay together.  Add vinegar to the water because that helps to keep the egg together.  Take the water down to a  simmer before adding the eggs.  And in truth, there are only a few things that really count in making a perfect poached egg. 

Before I get into that, the proof is in the pudding.  Look at those two eggs in this picture.  I just made (and ate) those this morning.  I didn't use a form to keep them round.  And those little bits you see on the eggs are not pepper.    Before I made the eggs, I cooked two potatoes and diced them into a hot cast iron skillet with a little onion and browned them nicely.  I also cooked up two Sweet Italian Sausages in a small non stick skillet and diced those to add to the potatoes and onions.  I let them keep warm in the skillet while I made the eggs.  The following method may sound terribly labor intensive.  But that's only because I'm giving you so much information and detail.  I made these eggs in about 5 minutes.  One of the secrets to cooking eggs of any kind, is to take your time.  Eggs that are cooked too fast will not render perfect eggs.  Even scrambled eggs require slightly lower heat to keep them soft and fluffy, and fried eggs need lower heat to keep them from browning around the edges and getting leathery while the rest of the egg isn't cooked yet. 

The first secret to making beautiful poached eggs to buy FRESH eggs.  Fresh eggs have the quality of being more firm inside the shell.  The yolk and the white will both stand up high. You can see how high they stand in this photo and you can see it in the cooked eggs in the photo above, too.  An egg that isn't fresh will have a yolk that is relatively flat, and the white part will be flat and runny as well. 
Now, eggs that aren't "fresh" aren't bad eggs.  They have just lost some of the qualities that make a great poached egg.  You can test an egg for freshness by putting it into a glass of cold water.  If it sinks, it's fresh.  If it floats, it's not fresh.  Why? Well, because as the egg yolk and the white part break down, it creates an air pocket inside the shell - so it floats. Fresh eggs are more tasty, of course, and there are many dishes that would benefit from fresh eggs. But in my opinion the only time the freshness of an egg is really truly important, is when you want to poach it.  The firmness of the white part is what keeps the egg in good shape during the poaching process. By the way, some people like to store eggs on the counter or in the pantry, and that's ok.  Just use them up more quickly.  One day on the counter ages an egg as much as one week in the fridge. And don't use them for poaching.
I don't always  do this but this time I used the same skillet that I cooked the sausages in to make the eggs.  I just added enough water to fill the skillet.  The skillet is a smallish one, enough room in it to cook only two or three eggs.  When I filled the skillet with the water, naturally, the water was tinted with the browning that was left in the skillet from cooking sausages.  Plain water is fine too, but I wanted to cook the eggs in the sausage flavored water. If you don't have a non stick, just put a dab of butter in the bottom of the pan.  It will give some aid in removing the eggs from the pan later.

So that's the second secret.  Use a shallow pan and hopefully you have a lid for it.  Use any pan that will hold enough water to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a high boil, then turn it down to the lowest heat possible. Not simmering!  Wait until the water no longer has any boiling bubbles in it.  The movement of the water is what breaks apart the egg whites.  So once the water is no longer bubbling, crack your fresh egg into a small bowl, and the very carefully pour the egg into the water.  Do the same for each egg.  Now cover the pan.  Make sure the water doesn't boil again.  It will cook the outside too fast and stir up the whites making them fly all around the pan.  Let the eggs sit in this hot water for approximately 4 - 6 minutes.  This will render you a poached egg that has a cooked white and a slightly runny yolk.  Leave it in the water a minute less, or a minute more, depending on how well you like your eggs cooked.  Then just use a spoon that is large enough to lift the entire egg out of the pan.  Using a spoon too small will allow the egg to break off as it hangs over the edge of the spoon. A slotted spoon allows all the water to drain away.  Even a wooden spoon will work, just be sure to drain well.

So good luck making poached eggs.  Forget the vinegar, forget swirling the water, forget the small saucepan.  Use fresh eggs, a shallow pan with plenty of water in it, and simmering water (no bubbles).  Add a little patience to let the eggs cook gently, and you'll enjoy the healthiest way to prepare a delicious egg!