clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

BOOK'S ANECDOTES CHRONICLE UTAH'S FOOD LORE AND HISTORY

Sing at the table, Whistle in bed, The devil will get you As soon as you're dead.

You'll choke on your food in heaven if you eat it before the blessing.Oh, golly, yes. We used to catch trout right near the home. We got sick of trout. I'm still sick of it.

If you're going fishing, don't let a woman cross your path. You're sure not to catch any fish that day.

Hog butchering should be carried out during the dark of the moon. If butchering is done while the moon is increasing, the bacon will bubble up and increase and not fry out.

For coldsores, eat a lot of cabbage.

If you peel a cucumber from the top toward the root, it will not be bitter. But if it is peeled from the root up, it will be bitter.

If you set a hen on to hatch her eggs on a holiday or a Sunday, none of the chicks will turn out.

Those are just a few of the gems contained in a fascinating new book called "Bounty, A Harvest of Food Lore and Country Memories from Utah's Past." (Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, Colorado, $16.95)

It is written by Janet Anderson, a folklorist and librarian at Utah State University. A Hoosier by birth, she has lived in Cache Valley since 1985.

The book, her third, is about food and country life in Utah's early years - a collection of memories, recorded in the words of Utahns who have provided cherished old-time recipes, remedies or anecdotes.

Unusual photographs complement the text and enliven the individual accounts.

One photo shows a handsome woman canning food, and part of the astonishing caption says, "During 1939 she canned 2,300 quarts which included 20 sheep, 2 deer, 2 beeves, 5 pigs. Fish was tried very success-fully . . . "

One of the better anecdotes comes from Marvin Barney of Ogden:

"He was out to this turkey shoot, and they would stick the turkeys' heads up through a box, and you was to shoot at their heads. And if you hit them in the head, well, you got the turkey. Had to pay a dime for a shot. Nobody around there much was hitting them. They was quite a ways away when they were shooting. Walter's son says, `Well, give me a crack at it.' And he shot five turkeys out of six shots, and they wouldn't let him shoot anymore.

"And he says, `Well, I'll go get Dad. He's an old man, and maybe you can get a few dimes off of him.' So Walter went out there to the turkey shoot, and they stuck the turkeys' heads up through the box, and he shot six out of six. And they stopped him. They wouldn't let him shoot anymore."

From the Utah Agricultural College Experiment Station, 1912, was this about dishwashers:

"This is possibly a machine of the future. A few different kinds are on the market, but for the small family at home they seem not yet entirely successful. The Home Economics Department of the Utah Agricultural College is experimenting now, with more or less practical results, on small machines advertised as being adapted to the use of the ordinary family.

"Certainly nothing is more needed in all the homes of the civilized world than some satisfactory solution of the `dish washing problem.' "

And from Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the LDS Church, this description of Thanksgiving Day, 1895:

"I spent the day at home. Ashahel & Ovando C. Beebe joined with the 100 Men who went to Camp Floyd to shoot Rabbits for the poor. Asahel got 26 Ovando 35. The whole company got 1,800 Rabbits. Asahel lost his $10 gold spectacles and one Man Lost a gold watch. There was 2 or 3 inches of Snow on the Ground."

There are also numerous recipes for grape catsup, Utah scones, tomato preserves, popcorn for 50, Potato Chip Cookies, Carrot Pudding, Angel Food Doughnuts and Grandma Alm's Shoebox Cake, to name a few.

Walt Lichfield of Providence had a recipe for Beefsteak Spinach: "Take one jar of green olives and eat the olives as usual. Simmer spinach in the olive juice. It tastes as good as beefsteak. People just go back for more."

But the real treasures in this pleasing little volume are the revealing glimpses into the lifestyle of past generations. It is worth owning.