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!)