They say write what you know. I agree with that in some ways but I always believe it’s necessary to stretch your wings and try things that are new.
In my second book of the Inzared series, Inzared The Fortune Teller, life was very different from today. My character, Inzared, grew up on a bleak mountain in North Carolina where life was hard and food provided from the dense forests that surrounded the base of the mountain. Her father was adept at bringing home deer, bear, possums, squirrel, rabbit and any other game or fowl to make succulent stews or preserve for the cold winter months.
I actually based Inzared on my mother-in-law who regaled me with tales of her hardscrabble life on a farm in the piney woods of North Carolina. She was proud of her heritage and never let anything go to waste.
This excerpt from Inzared The Fortune Teller happens around 1855-56. Inzared’s son Timmon is now the provider of food for the family although Inzared is a crack shot and can easily bring home a squirrel or two herself. Some of the meat was made into tasty stews and some of it dried into jerky.
Excerpt from Inzared The Fortune Teller ©L.Leander
With Timmon gone and the girl asleep, I gathered firewood. Above me I heard the sparrow’s sweet song and a couple of squirrels as they chattered to each other across the trees. I moved quietly so as not to disturb the other creatures that lived in the forest. Spotted a black snake as it wound its way across a wet path of brown leaves, in search of somethin’ to eat, I supposed. Farther along I caught a glimpse of a mother whitetail deer as she nursed her baby fawn. She looked up in alarm, but I stood still and she relaxed as she nuzzled her baby. Timmon had his bow and arrows and I knew he’d look for small game, squirrels and rabbits with which I would make tasty stews and dried jerky for our travels. Gaji, I thought as I let myself wonder about the strange girl who had so suddenly appeared in our camp. Then I chuckled as I realized that I was also Gaji, but I’d lived with Gypsies so long I thought like them. Wandered back to the fire with an armload of dry kindlin’ and thought about what I should do.
With an experienced self-proclaimed “hillbilly” for a mother-in-law I’ve eaten and made these dishes. It was this knowledge that helped me write some of the scenes in my book. I’ve canned, preserved, dried, and smoked meat, made sauerkraut in large crocks, churned my butter, made head cheese and am an excellent cook on either a wood stove or outdoor campfire. In another post I’ll tell you about my pies on the campfire.
Here are a couple of links if you’d like to check them out. One is for the squirrel stew.
similar to what I made and the other is a you tube video about making jerky and cooking whole squirrels over an open fire.
And just for kicks, here’s a you tube link to Merle Haggard’s Rainbow Stew.
Have you ever had squirrel stew? Would you try it? I’d love to hear your answers!
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