The cookbook will be a fundraiser for the Kymulga Grist Mill and will feature historic recipes from Alabama pioneer kitchens.
“Almost any woman can cook well if she has plenty to work with, but in the 1800s the pioneer woman had little to work with and made everything from scratch,” Martha Little, president of the Historic Preservation Commission, said.
The recipes will include rabbit soup, squirrel stew, wild onion soup, baked opossum, baked raccoon, batter fried poke, wagon train baked taters and horehound candy.
“Many of the recipes will go back to a time when people had less, but what they had meant more,” Little said.
She said terminology used today differs from words used then. “Back then they referred to the oven temperature stages for baking as slow oven, moderately hot oven, hot oven, quick oven and very hot oven,” Little said.
It was not uncommon to find measurements expressed as “pinch, drops, dab and mud paddy size,” she said.
“We will also have some recipes that were prepared by Indians.”
Some recipes that will be offered will feature stone ground cornmeal and grits ground at the mill. Recipes that feature local honey will also be offered.
Little said she and her friend Nancy Piatkowski are experimenting with the corn meal to create hushpuppy and fish fry recipes. She said they will create a mix, test it on friends and then “tweak” it before releasing the recipe.
“That’s how we created recipes for shrimp grits and other grits recipes,” Little said.
One section of the cookbook will feature how to create a “Hobo Supper.”
“You start with a base, usually a stew or soup, and everyone brings a can of another ingredient,” Little said.
The can might be a vegetable or meat, she said. The supper is usually cooked on an open fire in a black pot or kettle. Everyone brings a can and a spoon. “This way hobos can come together and feed more,” she said.
After adding the canned vegetable or meat, the donor will write their name on the can and eat out of it later, Little said.
She said plans are to have the cookbook available by Christmas and for the tourist season.
“Because the mill is a tourist attraction, they will love it,” Little said.
The mill began operations in 1860 and is one of the oldest continuing operating mills in the United States. Spared during the Civil War, the mill continued to serve the community. It also served the operations of the munitions plant in Childersburg during World War II. Corn meal and grits are still produced and can be purchased at the mill.
Little is requesting recipes from the public and has already solicited recipes from members of the Childersburg City Council, Police and Fire departments, and area churches.
Anyone wanting to submit a recipe can pick up a form with instructions at City Hall, the grist mill, and 8th Avenue Gallery and Frame Shop.
Little said she will also receive recipes by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at email@example.com.