Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

July 20, 2008

Grandma's Kitchen: Hot days & fresh veggies

Summertime and the livin' is easy. You can supply the musical notes. Don't you love it?

If I were playing the old word-association game, I'd say, "Long, striped, sugary watermelons, juicy peaches at the peak of perfection ... and a big basket of red tomatoes with a salt shaker and a bib."

It doesn't get any better than this.

We used to take our cues from the lazy old hound dogs flattened on the earth, trying to soak up some of the delicious coolness. When they had to move to the feeding dish they'd amble along like a turtle with bunions. It illustrates that 105-degree heat reduces everything to slow motion.

We had global warming before it had a name. Now I think 80 degrees is unbearable.

It was on such a day that I interrupted some must-do work to make a flying trip to the mailbox. What I pulled from the box finished my day's work. I was holding two cookbooks from daughter Vicki called "White Trash Cookin'" and "Sinkin' Spells, Hot Flashes, Fits and Cravins."

I made the mistake of opening the first page and no force on earth could have pried them from my fingers! (Do I sound like Charlton Heston?) Never in my life have I seen anything like them. Here are a few recipes from the table of contents:

Rack of Spam, Boloney Roll-ups, Patina Blair's Sick Soup, Mama Ellen's Fried Chittlins, Liver Mush, Sarah's Stepped on Cornbread, Sluicey Dab in a Foot Tub, Oleen's Stuffed Pepper Slippers, Prayer Meetin Punch, Sawmill Gravy and Cathead Biscuits, Cooter (Turtle) Stew, Gaitor Tail, Roast Possum and Chestine's Deviled Fish Eggs.

There were hundreds more that I doubt you'll ever see on Chef Mario Batali's menu or in the meat case at Whole Foods. I was and still am fascinated by these books, the stories are outrageous, too. I have not made any of the recipes, but I found this one I do often without knowing I needed a recipe for it -- and you probably do too. For fun, here it is:

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