28 January 2009

winter wears on

“‘As the days begin to lengthen, then the cold begins to strengthen.’ That was in the almanac. We stay closely housed. There is little to be done outside except chores. Cows are milked, horses bedded and fed, all animals kept warm and comfortable. The barn smells agreeably of hay and grain and of animal flesh. The sound of munching hay and moving feet is pleasant and assuring. The fowls venture but seldom outside their coop. Warmed water, warm meal mash with a little red pepper in it, and shelled corn are given them night and morning. The water in their drinking pans freezes in between.”
—From The Country Kitchen, by Della T. Lutes
Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1937

(Perfect chapter opening for a blustery winter evening.)

B picked this book out of a pile bound for the recycling plant at the transfer station last fall because he liked the cover. I like the drawing of the man reading—is that a garden catalog?—by the wood stove.

For the benefit of JGH at Nyack Backyard, here’s the recipe index from the back of the book (you can enlarge the image by clicking on it).


  1. Anonymous3:33 PM

    What a find! Looks like a great book, judging by the excerpt. :)

  2. We can certainly say it is. I like the book too. Especially the phrase "the barn smells agreeably of hay".

  3. Good find! I volunteer for my kids' school ramage sale and we find treasures all the time while sorting and pricing. But how many of those treasures get lost!!!!

  4. Nancy, apparently it was an instant classic when it was first published. And I think it's been reissued recently, or at least that's what amazon.com says. I'm enjoying it!

    Tina, we're expecting more snow upstate early in the week. It's really been winter! (I like the sentence that follows, too, with the "sound of munching hay and moving feet.") And I'm definitely going to remember the almanac's "When the days begin to lengthen . . ."

    Tatyana, we've found some great stuff at the dump. I can't imagine someone wanting to throw out this particular book, but I'm glad they did. And it definitely won't get lost now!

    Thank you all for stopping by!

  5. So are there recipes?! I'll have to add this one to my "wish list" on Amazon.

  6. Hey, JGH! There are recipes (see a scan of the recipe index at the bottom of the post), but they're sort of Gladys Taber style (i.e., pretty informal). They look like they're usable, though . . .

  7. It was indeed an instant classic - had been reprinted twenty (!) times when my 1945 copy came out. How many more came after that who knows, but there must be a gazillion out there, as close as your nearest connection to bookfinder.

    Wonderful curl by the fire material, though probably best in smallish doses. I don't remember ever following any of the recipes, but they look perfectly usable to me - possibly because when I started writing recipes that's more or less the style I used.

    Country Kitchen came out in 1935, when Lutes was in her 60's, and by then she'd been a popular food writer for about a decade, so given her age and experience she probably assumed that any reader who wanted to follow her recipes already knew how to cook.

  8. Leslie, excellent bedtime reading. A nice cozy read, but her father is interesting to say the least.