Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blast from the Past with Ruthy!

Little known fact:

I love old cookbooks. And new cookbooks. So I'm an eclectic collector, but some of my old cookbooks...

Really old!!!!  ;)

Are a hoot. 

So today we're going to play with Americana recipes from America Cooks, the 1940 edition by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown


Here is the famous pic of our resident possum's son or daughter. I did not attempt to get close enough to discern gender:

Skin possum, remove glands called "musk" from small of back and beneath front legs, slit down the breast, remove entrails, scald in boiling water and scrape clean. Rub inside and out with salt and pepper and hang in a cool spot.

(Okay, right here I realize how stinkin' spoiled we are because the majority of us grab skinless, boneless chicken breasts and call it a day... Already this is NOT BODING WELL.)

When ready for the pan, stuff with equal parts boiled chinquapins (or chestnuts), applesauce and bread crumbs. Sew up, (Get those needles ready, gals...) surround with small peeled sweet potatoes, cover with 1 cup boiling water, 1/2 cup vinegar (or juice of 2 lemons), dot with 1 tablespoon butter, and baste often, until tender and golden.

The sweet potatoes absorb a good deal of the fat, which improves their own flavor,. Some people remove excess outside fat before dressing.  (Of course they do. Because why wouldn't they????)

I found a couple of baked possum pics on the World Wide Web... But couldn't bring myself to post them. The head , well... it's still attached. I can't do that with anything.... Oh, ugh... Fish. Suckling pig.... I'm a no-head kind of gal. It must be the Yank in me.  So I posted Granny because I love her and she cooked possum regularly. God love her.

Possum skins have a market value of 6 bits or more, so you can eat your possum and have a profit too.

So there you have it, a meal in a pan, a true one-dish celebration listed in the "Arkansas" section of the regional cookbook.

But wait....

What about dessert, you ask?



2 Tablespoons Arkansas Rice
1 quart milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 inch length of vanilla bean
2 ouces blanched chopped almonds
3 cups whipped cream
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Boil rice with sugar and vanilla bean in milk for two hours. (Simmer, maybe? I would vote yes on simmer as opposed to boiling because two hours of boiling milk will result in some heavy duty pan scrubbing. I think.) Cool, then stir in almonds, whipped cream, beaten egg and more sugar if necessary. Freeze lightly and serve in punch glasses with a tablespoon of Cointreau or your favorite liqueur poured over. Or cover slices of mulberry pie with it.

Author's note: "Arkansas stands second to Loouisiana in the production of rice, and whre there is such close rivalry each state claims the best. We've tried both, however, and can't find a grain of difference."

Get it? A GRAIN of difference????? Cook book humor!!! :)

Note the eggs are raw... I'm proud of them already! I use Basmati rice for everything, with no insult to Arkansas or Louisiana intended. You are BOTH GREAT STATES. Really. I mean that.

But what a lovely way to finish off your meal of fresh-baked possum and sweet taters with a little boiled and frozen rice cream.

The "Rice Cream" I would try....

The possum? In all honesty???  I'd probably stop by Chick fil A first. And for this Yankee, Chick Fil A is a treat.  ;)

Interestingly, I found various forms of Rice Ice Cream with multiple ethnic derivations. Here's a link to a Jewish website in Tel Aviv and her recipe and explanation sound lovely:

I love rice pudding and I love ice cream, but I'm going to have to play to see if I like the two together...

Even if I'm not from Arkansas!


  1. the no head stuff ain't reserved for yanks - I'm pretty far south and no way can I eat anything with a head - a friend whose malaysian was chowing on a fish(with head) with another friend of hers and I arrived and tossed the napkin over the head and waited for unidentified stuff to arrive at the table -the waitress thought I was nuts but oh well she could just go talk about me in vietnames and I'd never know! same friend tried to tell me how they made the fish sauce I was eating and I stopped her and said 'it came from a jar right?' still shudder sometimes wondering if the really make it that way *shudder* one time I was in HEB grocery store in 'china town' as I call it and got stuck like chuck in the section where they have the fresh fish (just out of the entrance and produce) couldn't go back and couldn't go forward and they had a huge pyramid of fish with head and eyes staring at me and I finally said "I think I'm gonna throw up' and amazingly a path opened.

    I have an old cookbook my grandma found somewhere and I thought it was amusing to see #2 can of this or that or lard, etc for the ingredients - thank God I never saw possum..I thought I'd have to block a few family/friends on facebook during deer season - gosh even 2 of the females were showing their 'trophies'! and one got hers with a car (no pic though thanks to the grab-and-run guy behind her!)
    good luck with the rice ice cream I've had rice with sugar and butter but never made into ice cream.


  2. Oh, Susanna.... I'm laughing out loud here because I can picture you in that cramped aisle, with the dead fish staring at you...

    Oh. My. Stars!!!!!

    I'm glad to know I'm not alone, my friend! And that's probably why (well, that and time because going to ethnic markets isn't a quick trip from the country) I don't frequent ethnic markets often because I love meat and fish, but I don't want to make its acquaintance on a more personal, intimate level. So I back away from heads, LOL!

  3. unfortunately we have a LOT of ethnic markets-there's one asian market I can't even walk into - the smell is horrible and I found out from an asian coworker that it's the 'fresh meat' then he paused and said 'don't go to the back' okey dokey I don't even go into the parking lot except for Cafe East chinese buffet. that same friend took me to a small chinese restaurant once and I asked her why the aquarium just inside the door was so diry (most have the really pretty ones with huge goldfish and fake plants - not this one) she said 'uh oh' about the time I noticed the cooked chickens or ducks or whatever hanging by their necks with their heads drooped down - and the shrimp was wayyy too fresh for me- then a truck backs up to the front door and they started unloading more fish - that aquarium was the 'pick it fresh' tank. I told my friend if they went over to that tank with a knife I was leaving.
    that store stopped forcing the traffic through that route - for some reason when they first opened they had everyone enter through the produce, go through the fish, then it branched out and we exited through the other set of doors - maybe the fire marshall cracked down on them! almost as bad as when I found out what head cheese wasn't! thank God my mom told me and I didn't find out after the fact!

  4. LOLOL, Ruthy!! I can't believe you found this recipe.

    I don't do heads, either. Or possum for that matter. I mean, really? Something that's typically road kill??

    No, thank you.

    Susanna, I love rice with butter and sugar!! I ate it a lot when I was a kid. :)

  5. Oh, Missy. This book is a TREASURE TROVE of road kill...

    I think that's going to be a Thursday feature: "Romance and Road Kill at the Yankee-Belle Cafe!"

    Whaddya think? ;)

  6. No, Ruthy, you need to let that idea go...

    It reminds me of when I worked at a downtown store (as opposed to the mall - you get more...umm...interesting browsers at a downtown store). This regular browser walked in (the kind who walks into a store to talk to the pretty girls and get warm before he goes back to his bitty place near the railroad tracks) and proceeded to tell us how much he was looking forward to his supper that night. He held up the misshapen paper bag in his hand and said his buddy had hit a ground hog on the way to work that morning and had saved the thing for him. There was nothing he loved more than fresh kilt ground hog.

    I'm so glad he was happy with his dinner. But the fashionable young girls I worked with about lost their lunches before he got back out the door.

    Not me. I've had ground hog (though not road kill...). If you like greasy dark meat, it's not too bad.

    I hope he had potatoes to go with it.

    1. Oh, Jan, that's hysterical!!

      Dark, greasy meat? Um, no thank you on that either. :)

  7. Um...yeah...I kinda glossed over reading how to prep the possum. My dad (who was born in '22) probably ate possum 'cause I know he ate squirrel and all sorts of other things during the Depression, but really? No, thank you.

    No heads for me either.

    I used to have authentic Scottish cookbooks. Haggis, anyone? :)

    Basmati rice here, too, Ruthy, although our son thinks it's bland. I'd much rather have it than plain ol' white rice.

    "As The Stomach Turns"...

    1. Melanie, I ate haggis in Scotland. Gag. It was awful. Will never do that again!

  8. I too love old cookbooks. The last one I bought had a little more than I bargained for, though. It's a 1967 Newcomers Club of Memphis Cookbook and the first recipe is 'Elephant's Feet'. I'm still hoping it's a 'joke' recipe like roadkill casserole, but for the life of me I'm not sure.

    1. LOL, Donna!! I'm with Ruthy. Maybe it's like a bear claw. :)

  9. Donna, LOL! Oh my stars, I'd think it's like a Bear's Claw donut.... But BIGGER.

    So maybe it's like Worms-in-Dirt dessert. Or those cool Mice Cookies we make with the little kids. I love those things. Did you know that Mary Connealy is REALLY, REALLY afraid of mice?

    I might have to send out a box of them thar cookies. Just to see if I can hear her scream across the Mississippi. ;)

    Donna, nice to have you here! And I bet those Memphis sweethearts thought it would be really funny to fool newcomers with "Elephants' Feet"... But on the other hand, it IS Tennessee. ;)

    1. Oh dear. I read the opening this morning before I had coffee and I haven't had the courage to come back before now. That possum is just evil looking. Brings back childhood traumas of a family of them ending up buried in our back yard. I don't think I ever went back to that corner of the yard again.

      Missy, this just cracked me up - "I don't do heads."
      I think that should be the cafe's motto.
      Welcome to the Yankee Belle
      We don't do heads.

      I have a really old Virginia Colonial cookbook that I found when I was researching my American Revolution book so many moons ago.

      Hmmmm wonder how Friday will top Thursday's menu.


    2. Mary, sounds good! We'll have to use that new motto. LOL

  10. Mary, maybe I shouldn't have opened with the possum. ;)

    But the BAKED POSSUMS with their little, dried up heads were much worse, LOL! At least this guy was just hanging out on my porch, munching cat food, having himself a mid-day treat.

    God's creature, right? Oy. God has a sense of humor!

  11. Rats, I missed the fun yesterday. Poor possums every where. With humans after them, I guess playing dead isn't a good idea.

    The Rice Ice Cream -- hey -- it's now a trendy vegan treat. Check out Rice Dream. It's ice cream made from rice polishings. Seriously delish and yes, it comes in some decadent chocolate versions.