Maybe it’s a good idea to start off the new year with a couple of the Lazy Farmer’s homilies, especially as the first is a paean to his wife’s sauerkraut, and although he doesn’t tie it to the holiday, pork and kraut are New Year’s Eve traditions in many families, including ours, as Miss Nancy is of decidedly Teutonic heredity. My own Swedish ancestors on the one side probably leaned more toward lutefisk, while the Scotch-Irish Moore’s most likely ate haggis, black buns and cheese, washed down with a dram of Scotch whiskey.
Of all the works of cooking art that in my mind are set apart, there’s none I’d rather talk about than my Mirandy’s sauerkraut. That stuff is so all-mighty good, I’m certain that she never could have learned to make it on her own; instead I’ll bet, if truth were known, that her Teuton heredity includes kraut-making genes, by gee. The secret is, you’ll never catch her op’ning cans, she starts from scratch; she grows her cabbages with care, you’ll find no better anywhere, and no one knows, save her alone, what she puts in those crocks of stone.
When she has let a batch ferment, the outcome is so succulent that I can never stop until my plate has had a triple fill. With frankfurters, it’s extra good, but even by itself it could inspire the most ecstatic prose that finest writers could compose or generate a lilting rhyme to rank with poems of all time. Some boobs, like the neighbor, like to tell they won’t eat such “fodder” with a “smell,” but from Mirandy’s kraut I get the most heavenly aroma yet, and there’s no taste, by all the odds, more like the nectar of the gods.
Then is his essay on “punkin pie,” with which I completely agree (although Miss Nancy does make a passable pumpkin pie of canned pumpkin and store-bought crusts; still the pies of my youth, with real pumpkin and flakey crusts made with lots of lard were the best).
By far the greatest of the crimes, committed in these modern times, is the concoction some folks try, to pass off as a punkin pie. I think it is a crying shame, the way most cooks have helped defame, the greatest dish devised by man. The loafers open up a can, and out of it they dare to scoop, some evil–looking, tasteless goop; they plop it in a soggy crust, and then before its served they must, pile whipped cream of two inches thick, so that their victims won’t get sick, when they force down an extra bite, or two just so they’ll be polite.
Thank goodness, I don’t get that swill, ‘cause good old Jane Mirandy still, knows how to make the real thing, and loves to do it, too, by jing. She doesn’t have a can in sight, when she starts out to do it right; I bring a punkin from the field, and then, somehow, she makes it yield, a tantalizing golden meat, the taste of which just can’t be beat, especially when it’s mixed up good, with lots of spices like it should, then baked just right in flaky crust; I eat so much I almost bust. When it comes time for me to die, I hope I’m filled with punkin pie!
Happy New Year!
Song of the Lazy Farmer illustration accompanying the sauerkraut song in the September 4, 1954 Ohio Farmer. (In the author’s collection)