Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Get out the shotgun and the dandelion bucket! It's nigh dinnertime.

Yeah, I know. I'm a couple days late for the optimal placement of the National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook (1975, so they were actually a little early on the bicentennial. Maybe their earliness and my lateness will cancel each other out). I guess I was so swept up when I was perusing the "heritage of recipes from the kitchens and hearts of yesteryear cooks" that I lost sense of time.

The cover is pretty plain, but you've got to love the wood grain! The recipes are often a real hoot too. I was having trouble picking just a few to represent this book (which is sure to make multiple appearances... There's a potato salad that deserves a whole post to itself!), so I decided to pick out a few of the most countrified, making-do-with-what-we-have recipes and put them together in a rural bicentennial menu.

The main course starts, as any menu of this type might, with a shotgun in the yard:

Squirrel Soup is definitely a country recipe, with few amounts specified beyond 3 or 4 squirrels to a gallon of water and a scant tablespoon of salt. The vegetable and seasoning amounts can be adjusted for how many people are eating/ how much corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and lima beans you have on hand. The weirdest step is to pour it all through a colander and "press squirrel meat and vegetables through colander, leaving bones." I can't really picture how that would work, unless colanders were different back then. The idea of being left with a colander full of little tiny bones simultaneously makes me 1. feel sad and 2. think Colander of Bones could be an interesting low-budget horror movie.

Want a vegetable and bread side all in one, but don't want to leave the yard?

Have some Dandelion Fritters! Is it just me, or does a quart and a half of dandelion blossoms sound like a lot of dandelions to pick? But if you've got more than a gallon of Squirrel Soup, you're probably fixing to feed a crowd, and fritters (full of yellow flowers or anything else) are sure to go fast.

For dessert, a country family needs a distinctive sweet. Here's a cake people will be more likely to remember than another apple or cherry pie:

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickle Cake! I am super-sensitive to sour or vinegary flavors, so just the thought of the possibility of biting into a little pickle chunk in a slice of cake gives me the jibblies. Otherwise, the cake has got sugar, butter, spices, and nuts, so your mileage may vary. Feel free to ignore me as I continue my jibbling over here in the corner....

Happy Wednesday! I'm off to surreptitiously wave to the squirrels in my yard when I walk by and hope that the neighbors don't notice that a grown woman does indeed wave to the squirrels. (And here's a squirrel-related link for good measure. Thanks to Roberta Davies for sending it!)


  1. Love love the American eagle on the cover. Americana in the 70s was HUGE.

    1. Now just imagine the eagle shrieking like a red-tailed hawk because TV and movies usually use a red-tailed hawk sound effect when they show eagles.

  2. My mom makes watermelon rind pickles. They're not vinegary or sour, they're fairly sweet.

    1. That's good to know. I am pickle-phobic, so I assume they're all sour and disgusting.