I’m still deep in the stack of outdated cookbooks I picked up earlier this week at the library’s used book sale. Since I last blogged, I’ve moved on from The Modern Family Cookbook (1943) to The Yankee Cook Book, first published in 1939. My copy is the revised edition, published almost forty years later, but it can’t be too revised, because the recipe for Squirrel Pie is still included in chapter three.
When I first saw the recipe, I thought I’d misread. Squirrel Pie? Wasn’t that a backwoods thing? Surely a recipe for Squirrel Pie wouldn’t be published in a 1970’s volume of New England cookery. But there it was, in black and white (no photos, thank goodness!). “Dress 4 squirrels and cut into suitable pieces to serve,” it began.
The recipe is very easy to follow. And, adaptable. you can top the “pie” with baking powder biscuits or pastry crust. You do, however, need at least four squirrels to fill a 2-quart dish. And, if you’re inexperienced, there’s a nice paragraph to guide you in the dressing of squirrels – where to make the cuts, how to draw the skin over the head, and which of the entrails are edible (the heart and liver, in case you’re wondering). My favorite part of the recipe is this tip: “An ingenious way to remove skin readily is to slip tip of bicycle pump under the skin of legs. The pressure of the air does the trick neatly.”
Of course, there are plenty of more traditional recipes in The Yankee Cook Book – instructions for things like stuffed peppers, creamed asparagus, and ginger snaps. But it’s the unusual names that draw me:
Preacher’s Apple Crisp
Oyster and Mushroom Mousse
Mock Mince Pie
Old Maine Lobster Cake (which doesn’t call for lobster)
Beach Plum Jam
Freshman’s Tears (a kind of tapioca pudding)
And “Coot Stew” – which is made with aquatic birds, not eccentric old men (I had to look it up).
Some of these, I’m definitely going to try.
But not squirrel stew.
From the dining room table, getting ready to take a walk in the pleasant evening air (it’s like summer here!),