Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Savage and Savory Stews

My area has reverted from being so warm in February and March that I was hoping I could spot some super-early snakes sneaking out of their holes this year (Yep-- looking for snakes is one of my hobbies.) to seeing April as a good spot to dump all that unused winter weather. Ugh!

That's the long way of saying today is devoted to a cold-weather classic: Savory Stews (Mary Savage, 1969).

My copy, as you can see by all the tears on the cover, appears to have been well-loved. (No stained pages, though, so I don't know what the previous owner had a taste for...)

Have to love the subtitle: "Captured, begged, and borrowed recipes for stews-- from around the block and around the world." I like the idea of the "captured" recipe. I guess the hunting grounds would depend on the type of recipe one wants... You might be able to set a live trap in a church potluck or the corner of a busy restaurant without attracting too much notice, but try setting one up in a modest Appalachian kitchen and you might end up on the wrong end of a shotgun.

I guess the bait would depend on the type of recipe, too. Set out a little cup full of cream of mushroom soup, some red wine, or court bouillon and see what turns up. Just hope the trap springs before the recipe skitters away.

There aren't all that many pictures in this book, but I really love some of the line drawings at the chapter beginnings:

If you don't love the young chicken in a mini skirt with a "Love" sign prancing in front of the old chicken with his cane, bow tie, and 23 skidoo pin, then there is something seriously wrong with your humor gland, and you should get it checked immediately. (Just a little public service announcement.)

The stews themselves tend not to be too surprising, so to represent the chickens, here is a recipe I chose because the description says this is the sort of stew to be "eaten in quantity, praised seldom, and quickly forgotten." Mary Savage certainly didn't believe in overselling her recipes-- or, apparently, in leaving anything out of the cookbook, even if it wasn't particularly impressive:

It looks as if this will completely fulfill her description, too. A stew that relies on chicken noodle soup mix along with the usual assortment of onions, peas, carrots, and potatoes is unlikely to be too memorable-- either as something great or something terrible.

The seafood section gives us some more fun characters:

I don't know about you, but I cannot resist a lobster with a telescope and a pirate's hat or a crab in a sailor's cap! I want to warn the little guys that their "boat" is really a stew pot and their paddle is a spoon, but they just seem so damn excited that I can't quite bring myself to do it. (Besides, they're probably pretty safe since they seem to be in the ocean rather than on a burner...)

Savage has other plans for the ocean-dwellers, though:

Seafood is not at all my thing, but I always thought Shrimp Creole consisted primarily of the holy trinity (onion, celery, and green pepper) with tomatoes, spices, and, of course, shrimp. This version doesn't have much in the way of spice, instead throwing in barbecue sauce and canned tuna, which just seems... odd.  You can correct me if I'm wrong on this one, but I suspect Creole cooks would consider this recipe merde.

The recipe that horrified me the most, though, has a title that says it all:

Pork Chops Stewed with Onion and Peanut Butter not only boasts its headliner ingredients, but also the classic can of cream of mushroom soup! It promises to be overly greasy and salty, with gloppy gravy if one isn't constantly checking to see if it needs more milk. This recipe is sure to be an instant classic in the getting-unwelcome-guests-to-pack-up-and-go-already genre.

And here I am ready to pack up and go too! It must really work.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Thanks to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting.


  1. You did a great job of showing what's terrible in this cookbook despite the cutesy illustrations! Very amusing post. The sad thing is that the whole internet is full of recipes that, like these, throw together pre-packaged mixes and frozen veggies and call it a stew (or something). Technology can't help with this.

    best... mae at

    1. "Or something" is a nice touch. There's sometimes a sense that if one can think of a clever enough name, it will somehow improve the recipe.

  2. This post confirms my thought that each and every cookbook has something to offer even if it's only in the line drawings:) What a hoot!

    Those last two recipes are somewhat subjective for Ms. Savage and yes the would be cook also. (I don't actually consider either cooking but that's just me:) I know for sure Shrimp and canned tuna should never be messed together in the same dish, lol...I think I'll take that button's advice and scat while the going is good:)

    Thanks for sharing on Cookbook Wednesday Poppy...

    1. I'm glad you appreciate the line drawings too! They are so funny... much better than a lot of the recipes. :-)

  3. *sigh* I wish more people knew what 23 skidoo is. And I kinda want to eat the chicken shanty

    1. Maybe you've already have had some chicken shanty Shayne. You've just quickly forgotten it. ;-)

  4. Those line drawings are great! What's not to love about a chicken in a mini skirt? These lowlights from the book are darn near priceless; maybe I should give them to my son to help encourage his in-laws to leave after 3 days?

    Happy Cookbook Wednesday!

    1. I'm pretty sure the recipes would work for that!