Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This House is a Home - Philip Nork, Author



Great-Great-Grandma Elga’s Squirrel Stew

2 or 3 squirrels cut into serving sized pieces
2 green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 rhubarb ribs, chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large potatoes, chopped
3 quarts of water
Corn or a bean of your choice
Salt and pepper
3 quarts of water
4 large tomatoes, whole

Add the water and seasonings to a large pot and turn on the heat to simmer. Add in the squirrel meat and all the vegetables. Let simmer for 2 or 3 hours and then add in the whole tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Let simmer until ready to eat.
For an added treat make some homemade sourdough or wheat bread with whipped butter and you have a feast made for a coal miner after a hard day in the mines.



This House is a Home - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds, A Book and A Dish

"Just go in and do your business,” Uncle Rich said as we approached the wooden shack.  “This is old school all the way.  Do me a favor though. See if you can find any toilet paper in there."  

I was stunned.  What did he mean by that?  I slowly walked into this small shack that looked like it was falling down and searched for the light switch.  Not finding one I left the door ajar to allow the sunshine to stream in. Once fully inside I saw a long piece of wood along one side of it that looked like a couch without any cushions. There was a hole in the middle of it with a toilet seat attached to it. I assumed this was where I had to go.  I closed the wooden door behind me that had a half moon cut out near the top if it and slowly lifted the seat.  A tremendously bad odor arose very quickly... I squeezed my nose shut with two fingers while I did my thing... Even though I didn't need it, I looked around like Uncle Rich suggested and found no toilet paper. I did find a Sears catalog and wondered why it was there but there was nothing to wipe your butt with... Uncle Rich was waiting for me when I finished.... "What's the catalog for?" I asked. "That's old-time toilet paper,” he answered with a smile. “You can read while doing your business and then just rip a page out and use it."

In the 1970's teenager Peter was assigned to do a summer report on his family history.  Being from a family of divorce he didn't know his dad's family all that well and knew very little about his mom's side either. He did know his grandfather but when Peter tried to talk to him about the ‘good old’ days, his grandfather, Vern, would joke around, take a draw off his cigar and another swig of his always present bottle of whiskey.  Peter's mom and uncle decided the best way for him to find out about his family was to go back to the coal mines of Southern Illinois. Boy was he in for a surprise, as well as an education.

Once in a while I pick up a book that takes me back in time.  This was one of those books.  As I read about the 'outhouse' I couldn't help but go back to my own life in the 1970's when we would visit my dad's distant relatives in the North Georgia mountains. They too had the outhouses, the cow and chickens, the pot belly stove for heating and cooking, and the way of talking that only comes from the mountains.  My first visit was much like what Peter first experienced. I couldn't believe people actually lived like this.  Where was the AC?  Where was the TV?  What was that thing my 4th cousin was pushing up and down after pouring milk into it?  And best of all, what did I just eat?  

Whether you grew up in the 1970's or not, this book will not only transport you to the way life used to be, and I'm sure still is in some places, but it will also teach you the same lesson that Peter learned from his great-aunt Maddy, "A house is just a building, what makes it a home are the people in it. It doesn't matter where you live or what you do as long as you have family you're taken care of."  

I love this book!


 
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