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Reading for more diversity

July 16, 2011

I have become weary of worrying about the debt ceiling as well as the leak in my bathroom ceiling. Life can be downright scary sometimes, and the nitwits in Washington seem to have declared Halloween early this year. Boo!
I’ve had to turn off the television set because it rattles my cage to see Congress and the administration play with our lives as if we were a pack of dominoes about to be set up and kicked over.
As a diversionary tactic, I have become enamored with reading vintage cookbooks and enjoy learning about how our mothers and grandmothers got meals on the table during even harder times than these.
(Note that I say “table.” I’m wondering how many families still eat at a table on days other than holidays.)
I inherited my grandmother’s 1953 Souvenir Edition of the Better Homes and Garden’s “New Cook Book,”  and my mother’s “”Woman’s Home Companion” published in 1942 and given to her as a wedding gift. 
But my absolute favorite is my grandmother’s dog-eared copy of “Holland’s Cookbook” published in 1923. This must have been the cookbook Granny Clampett used in the Beverly Hillbillies!
It gives detailed instructions on how to make pigeon pie, fried beef brains and baked sweetbreads (if you don’t know what those are, I’m not going to tell you, but suffice it to say there’s no sugar anywhere in the dish). Measurements are given in teacups and “pinches” – both large and small.
I’ve learned how to render lard, catch and cook a ‘possum, and make sausage casings from the entrails of a pig. Pardon me if you’re reading this and having sausage with your breakfast. 
There’s an entire chapter devoted to “chevon,” which I learned is goat meat, and another on “forcemeats” which I deduced to be something along the line of Spam and meat loafs. 
I can now make butter without a churn, but I’ll need a dairy cow. I also learned how to preserve eggs in a solution of lime-water.  Does anyone know if it’s legal to keep chickens in your backyard in the city? Or where to buy a rooster and a hen? 
I also learned helpful hints from the book, such as keeping an open glass of chloride of lime in your kitchen to get rid of pests like flies, insects, rats and mice. Think it might work on Congress?
Bottom lime: If and when the economy collapses, I’ll be ready. 

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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