Recently, the Idaho Humanities Council compiled a book of handed-down recipes and personal essays titled, Dishrag Soup & Poverty Cake: An Idaho Potluck of Essays on Food.
Part of the title comes from Gaetha Pace who writes, "There's a saying among the women of my grandmother's generation: 'She could make dinner out of a dishrag.'" Pace grew up in South Dakota and became a "scratch cook ... I was 11 when my mother turned over the cooking for our family of seven to me." In Dishrag Soup, you'll find bits about foods you might never have imagined: Sauerkraut Jell-O, Pheasant Pie and Bourbon Dumplings, just to name a few. And, what book on food would be complete without recipes? You'll find recipes for Sourdough Pancakes, Crocodile Chili--which includes cayenne pepper, onions, red pepper flakes and green chili peppers--ouch!; Kozuki no Gyouzu--a pork, rice, garlic, ginger, cabbage and miso soup recipe that sounds mouthwatering; an essay and accompanying recipe for Fried Squirrel--an actual recipe that calls for two of the bushy-tailed little rodents (we didn't write it, PETA, we're just reporting on it); Golumbki--a Polish stuffed cabbage dish; and the other eponymous dish, Poverty Cake.
The 164-page book also contains a number of heart-warming and heart-wrenching essays on the importance of food and family. Chris Binion (who is the purveyor of the Fried Squirrel recipe) contributes his memory of the first squirrel hunt he went on with his father, aptly titled "Fried Squirrel." Rita Jean Branham Rodriguez writes "Changing Tastes and Times" about a visit to her cousin Loyce in Virginia and includes Loyce's Butterscotch Pie recipe. Cindy Wang shares a story of her beloved Aunt Mary and a delicious-looking recipe in "Aunt Mary's Chocolate Cake."
This book is, as it states on the cover, "An Idaho potluck of essays on food," but it's more than just that. Forty-three Idahoans share some of their fondest memories and favorite recipes in a book about family, friends and, of course, food.
Dishrag Soup & Poverty Cake is available for purchase by calling the Idaho Humanities Council at 208-345-5346 or 888-345-5346 or visit www.idahohumanities.org for more information.