Elvis sighting inspires time with old cookbooks

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What wonderful, beautiful weather we have had these past few days. I love to be outside now, but I also like to sit down and reminisce during the fall season. Maybe because it is the time of year we think about home and hearth. Some of it also may have to do with spending time at the Chamber of Commerce banquet and listening to all the “oldies” via Elvis and the juke box last Thursday evening. That certainly brought back many memories and was a great evening.


I pulled out some very old cookbooks, basically just enjoying the comments and terminology in them. For example, in the book “Granny’s Recipes, Remedies and Helpful Hints, A Treasury of Country Lore and Wisdom.”  This book was published in 1980, but contains folk remedies, etcetera, pertaining to the social history of the 1800s. I found a section on obsolete and uncommon words that was very interesting. It says Candy Height is “an obsolete term used in recipes for confections, candy and sugar syrups, to indicate temperature, usually between 250-266 degrees.” Also, a Handful is “about 3/4 to 1 cup measure.” And it also says — this is for Grace Angotti — Mother of Vinegar is a “slimy membrane which develops on the surface of alcoholic liquids undergoing acetous fermentation, composed chiefly of yeast cells and bacteria. It is added to wine or cider, as a starter, to produce vinegar, hence, its name. It is also called vinegar plant.”

Another book I found has a copyright of 1968 and is titled “Hillbilly Cookin.” It states that “all recipes wrote in citified style.” It has tips on weather signs, such as “if corn shucks are thick and tougher than ordinary, there’s a hard winter ahead.” Or “green wood in fireplace will pop like somebody trompin snow a for a blizzard comes.” Whirlwinds mean dry weather and if you drop a horsehair into a rain barrel, it will start swimming in a couple of days. It all sounds like good advice to me.

When cooler weather comes, I also think about meals that are warm and cozy.  Also, they are meals that can be made in a larger quantity and frozen for those nights you just don’t want to cook. As my gift to keep you warm, how about:

Down Home Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in bite size pieces

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups flour

1 tbsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup beef stock

1 cup red cooking wine

4 potatoes, unpeeled , cut in bite size pieces

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas

4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

2 tbsp. canola oil

Heat oil in large pot on medium heat. Mix flour, paprika, salt, pepper and thyme together in medium bowl. Coat all  meat in flour; set aside. Slowly add meat to hot oil, browning on all sides. When browned, remove from pot; set aside.

Add diced onions and minced garlic to pot, just cooking until onions look clear. Add meat in with onion mixture. Cook together for about 2 minutes, then add in beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and red wine. Stir well and let simmer for a few minutes as mixture thickens slightly.

Now add in peas, carrots and potatoes. At this point, you may want to add more water or beef stock. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about an hour, or until meat and potatoes are fork tender. Serve with salad and cornbread. Freeze leftovers. Enjoy!

Lonnie Sundermeyer is a retired professional caterer residing in Ghent, Ky.