I can’t believe today is the last day of July – and that means it’s time for one last recipe from our cookbook of the month – The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery.
This month has flown by, and I guess that means I just am not ready to move into August! But – August a new school year, maybe sorta kinda cooler weather (I can dream, right) and a new cookbook to share!
Let’s take a look back at our cookbook for this month. I love this cookbook because it shares about the way food used to be prepared and served. The descriptions I shared in this post, about how the folks represented used all of the pig but the squeal were amazing. I know that everywhere you turn you hear “organic” and “farm to table” and “locavore” and “eating green” – well, let me tell you – the folks in this book were doing ALL of those before some of those words appeared in the dictionary. And the post on biscuits
One chapter in the book is dedicated to “Poultry and Wild Game Birds.” The first few pages of that chapter are dedicated to the killing and dressing of chickens. As a young child, I stayed with my aunt and uncle, who kept chickens for themselves. I remember seeing how a chicken was killed, dressed, de-feathered (is that a word?), and made ready for the frying pan. It made quite an impression on me of knowing just where food came from – or should I say, the reality of where it came from.
Throughout that chapter, there are recipes for fixing wild turkey, partridge, pheasant, quail and pigeon. I have, in fact, had the pleasure of tasting wild turkey (the bird, not the drink!), and quail, but have not had the others. This book, though, makes me feel as though I could absolutely fix a delicious partridge or pheasant if the need arose.
One of the first chapters discusses the proper way to light a wood cook stove. This was interesting to me, as I have always thought I would enjoy having one of those on which to prepare meals. Reading through these descriptions makes me realize the foresight and attention one needs to keep the fire going all day, in order to have heat for preparing meals. Along with that, learning the temperature but the feeling of the heat on your had is quite a talent to possess – I’d love to learn how to do that!
One last chapter I want to share is on “Wild Game.” This gives memories on how the folks in the book prepared raccoon, possum, squirrel, rabbit, deer and turtle. For example, to cook a possum, the book states you should boil them a while to get them tender, as they are “tough meat animals.” Once the possum is tender, you can either cut the meat and roll in flour to fry, or put in a large pan, surrounded by carrots and sweet potatoes and bake for several hours.
Cooking raccoon, the cookbook states, is similar to possum, but it must be skinned and dressed first, and then boiled in water with a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Once the raccoon is tender, “take the raccoon out of the water, take the meat off the bone and roll it in cornmeal or flour. Get your grease hot in your frying pan and lay the meat all in your hot pan. Put some pepper and salt on it and let it stay in the pan till it is good and brown. You can make gravy with the drippings if you want.”
Finally, one of the stars of the book, Mrs. Vergil Lovell, shares how her husband used to catch and prepare turtles to eat. She explained that once you get the turtle “undressed” from its shell, you boil it “like a chicken” and you can either fry and eat immediately or you can freeze it like you would a chicken. She said many was the time she found “30 to 40 eggs in a turtle she was fixing for supper. She took the eggs out and kept them in a bowl because they aren’t good to eat but they make some of the best cakes you’ve ever tasted, I’ve been told, but I’ve never tried it. I just give the eggs away.”
Reading cookbooks like this make me sometimes wish for the ability to be able to make food like this – be able to cook and prepare anything. I realize, in reading these descriptions, the hard work involved daily in just getting meals on the table, not to mention the rest of the work to be done too – the laundry, the cleaning, the garden, etc. But, there is also an element of simplicity in reading this. Knowing where your food was grown – your back yard. Knowing how it was prepared, because you made it yourself. Knowing how to preserve the harvest. Working the land and living off of it. All the things many folks today want to do, and try to do, through homesteading and self-sufficiency.
Tell me what you think about some of this information and how you feel about the simplicity of which I’ve written. And , if you have a chance to check this out book, let me know that too, and give me your thoughts on what you’ve read!
Until next time!