In case you hadn’t noticed.
At the grocery store these days, I can buy strawberries and asparagus. This (along with an occasional warm day) supports my delusion that spring is just around the corner.
My great-grandmother had no such luxury. The turn of the year meant lean days back in the early 1900s when she was growing up and raising her family. January was when last season’s put-up food began to thin out. It would have been a long time since last fall’s hog killing, the shelves in the cellar would have more empty jars than full, and even the wild game would be getting thin (in quantity and quality).
Running to the store for fresh produce wasn’t an option. Chickens don’t lay as much in the winter and the cow’s milk has less cream. Christmas is past and that Easter ham is months away.
This would have been the time when mountain folk began to dream of poke, dandelion, dock, and other spring greens.
So in honor of these lean days, here are two recipes. The first is a “lean times” recipe using corn cobs to make jelly. The second, well, you judge what sort of recipe it is. These are both from my “Old Timey Recipes” cookbook.
Boil 12 bright red corncobs in three pints of water for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Add enough water to make four cups liquid. Add one package fruit pectin and bring to a full boil. Add four cups sugar and boil two or three minutes until jelly stage.
Allegedly, this tastes like apple jelly and the red corncobs give it a rosy hue. I suppose you could use any color corncobs if you weren’t particular about the hue of your jelly.
1 lb. mild sausage
1 pint black coffee
1 box raisins
1 cup walnuts
1 box dark brown sugar
1 T soda
1 tsp cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg
Enough flour to thicken
Put sausage in pan to simmer until grease seeps out. Drain and add all other ingredients. Bake 1.5 hours at 250 degrees.
Is it a dessert? A breakfast food? What sizes are the boxes? And is that a teaspoon EACH of those spices? I don’t know. That would have been expensive. And I haven’t had the courage to actually TRY this recipe. If you do, let me know.