Friday, July 8, 2011

Food Friday: Roast Rabbit or Squirrel

This Food Friday comes from the cookbook, Pittsburgh Tested Recipes, Prepared by the Ladies of Trinity ME Church (Smallman and Twenty-Fifth Streets). 1885.

One of the recipes in this collection is for Roast Rabbit or Squirrel (p. 152). The first thing you might  notice about this recipe is the lack of directions and measurements. While there is a mention of a tablespoon of butter, the rest of the measurements are lacking. We also aren't told how long to cook the dish for. Cookbooks during this time period assumed that you knew "basics" of cooking  so the recipes did not provide this information.  Later, cooking instructor/cookbook author Fannie Farmer among others start adding measurements and exact directions in recipes, allowing women to follow a recipe and end up with the type of dish that the recipe gave instructions for.

This lack of instruction is very obvious in the next recipe found on the same page for Cookies.

The recipe for rabbit/squirrel is also a good reminder that our ancestor ate what was available to them. In an age where eating organic, local food wasn't a fad but a part of life, eating things that were native to your area and that provided an easy food source was a necessity.

Cluster Genealogy Points to Other Localities

The other thing to notice about the rabbit/squirrel recipe is that it is provided by a woman in Kentucky. This  recipe found in a Pennsylvania cookbook most likely indicates that the contributor had lived in the Pittsburgh area at one time or had some sort of connection to a person in this church (maybe she was a sister-in-law or is a sister to one of the women). A good reminder that sometimes our ancestors are listed in places other than the locality where they lived.

An example of being listed in a resource in another locality that we as genealogists are more familiar with is obituaries.  An obituary may be placed in the newspaper where the person lived and also in other newspapers around the country where a close relative lives or where the deceased lived at some point in their life.

Community Cookbooks are the City Directories of Women

Community cookbooks are much like city directories. They are a listing of a community of women, sometimes from a church, civic organization, membership group or a town. But aside from just the women, businesses are also listed, giving you a snapshot of that town during that time period.  Those listings can be helpful in finding other documents in manuscript collections relating to your ancestor.  Knowing the name of the local doctor, midwife, and funeral home can lead you to records that those people left behind that may mention your ancestor and their family.