Friday, January 28, 2011

Pioneer Cookery Around Oklahoma

I can't put into words how much I enjoyed this cookbook, and that's tough for a writer to admit. I bought it at a Goodwill for almost nothing (a $1.00 receipt was still stuck between its pages), but as a lover of history and old recipes, it's worth its weight in gold. It is Oklahoma history in cookbook form.

When I moved to Oklahoma seven years ago, I had no idea of the state's colorful and unique past. I wish I could have read this little book when I first arrived. I loved learning about the history of our new "home" state; we visited The Cowboy Hall of Fame, Mattie Beale House, The Great Plains Museum, The Comanche Museum, The Holy City, and took a history tour of Fort Sill, just to name a very few of our day trips. With each trip, I gained a new perspective.
The many types of people who journeyed to Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were like stripes of color in a prism; some came with hopes of settling their own piece of land; some were forced to make the journey in hopes of finally finding peace; some ventured from the northern and southern states looking for financial gain and success in business; and others were European farmers looking for rich soil. They were a colorful mix of farmers, tribesman, ranchers, businessmen, slaves and cowboys, but whatever the background and reason for their journey, every group of people had an ongoing need for food to sustain them. Each group brought with them familiar foods and recipes from home. Most "recipes" were just "cooking memories" of moms or grandmas "teaching them how" time and time again. Some brought the family cookbook tucked in the wagon and some came up with a remedy on the trail-out of necessity. The stories of ancestors who braved the unknown to forge their way across the country to "a better life" is here in this paperback book. I think it is a condensed, written time capsule of the "American experience". Linda Kennedy Rosser did a fabulous job of compiling and editing, and Judy Mideke Samter's pen and ink illustrations of "all things Oklahoma" give it a distinctly 1800's and western flavor. I think that anyone who enjoys American history and/or cooking would love this book. It was published by Bobwhite Publications in Oklahoma City in 1978 (mine is a fourth printing). The ISBN is 0-929546-01-6.

Our sample recipe is from page 74:

Mountain Oysters
"One of the cowmen brought a mess of mountain oysters. I knew they were just telling me bunk. Oysters grew in the ocean and not on a mountain. I noticed how Mamma cringed when she picked them up, dipped them in beaten egg and rolled them in cracker crumbs before she put them into a skillet of hot grease. They looked too slimy for me. I didn't eat one." Vera Holding, Norman, OK

"Cattlemen on the range considered these a delicacy when they became available after the castration of young bulls to convert them into steers for better beef. E. Lee Kennedy recalls that on the ranch when he was growing up, they would throw the mountain oysters on the fire used for heating the branding irons. When the two jobs were finished, they'd be scooped out of the coals, salted and eaten."
-Compiled by Linda Kennedy Rosser

***Personal Note: "Calf Frys" are still held around Oklahoma presently; I've been invited to attend, but politely declined :-)***

I'll be at these swaps today:


  1. Saw the title of this post at Life as Mom and hit the jackpot! A cookbook with Oklahoma history - what could be better.

    Even though we've lived in Texas for nearly 30 years, I'm still an Oklahoma girl. My grandparents went to NE Oklahoma by covered wagon from Missouri about 1900. My roots and my heart are there.

    So pleased to read this post!

  2. Wow...what a find! Not sure about trying the mountain oysters either! Thanks for visiting me at A Season for All Things. I'm your newest follower! ~ Ellen

  3. Living in Nebraska, cattle country for sure, there are a lot of the same sort of cookouts -- they call then Nut Roasts here. I've never been and hope to never go, lol.

    I LOVE history mixed with cooking :)


  4. Not sure about Mountain oysters, but I always love your finds. Thanks for stopping by Momtrends.

  5. Congratulations Marcia,
    I am honored to pass along The Stylish Blog Award to you. You have a great blog. You can pick up your award on my blog.
    Best Wishes,
    Miz Helen

  6. Stopping by from Miz Helen's Country Cottage, congratulations!

  7. Hi Marcia,
    I just love cook book find, especially with a little history. They are so much fun. Thanks for sharing you find with us here at Full Plate Thursday! Hope you are having a great week end and please come back!