“Victuals” by Ronni Lundy

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I had no idea that “Victuals” is pronounced vidls or “vittles”.  This is what my husband  affectionately calls “eats” so I found it quite endearing that the cookbook I just received was named as such.

The book deeply chronicles stories and recipes-just as much if not more stories than recipes-found from travels and experiences within towns in the Appalachian Mountains.  The author’s journey takes the reader through Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, northern Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.  The recipes come from home cooks, chefs, farmsteads, and country stores…”magical food” as Ronni Lundy calls it, and traditions and memories that he seeks to preserve through this book.

Wonderful recipes are found in this book, many of them have pictures of what the final dish will look like but many of them do not.  Some of the recipes which caught my eye are Venison or Beef Hand Pies, Ginger Bean Chowchow, English Pea Salad with Cream Dressing, Mama’s Mashed Potatoes,  Buttermilk Cucumber Salad, Skillet Fried Chicken and Milk Gravy, Bigger Isn’t Better Buttermilk Biscuits, Slow Cooker-Roasted Pork Shoulder, Spring Ham Peas and New Potatoes, and Busy Day Cobbler among others.

This book is very different from most cookbooks I have in that it really tells a story of so many different states and regions within the Appalachian Mountains, and it seems to take the reader back in time to a more simple way of life.  A fascinating read for anyone who loves food origins or studies regional cuisine.  I imagine this is the way most homestead cooking was done 100 or so years ago before electricity, refrigeration, and modern day grocery stores.

One quick last note to mention the beautiful front and back cover and spine of the book.  As I added this to my cookbook collection, I got a really nice surprise seeing the outline of the Appalachian Mountains on part of the spine.

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I received this book through Penguin Publishing for my honest review.

Update:  I just tried Colcannon, the recipe is found on pages 62, 63.  This dish is very rich and comforting, perfect for a Fall or Winter night.  The spices in this dish intrigued me.  I’ve never used mace as far as I can remember, and it lends a very warm and savory flavor.  I really loved the flavors of the cabbage, kale, and onion mixture.  I would be tempted to serve this with bratwurst or an Irish banger sausage instead of bacon as well.  This would also be a great dish to repurpose leftover mashed potatoes.  Two changes I would make to this dish to lighten it up a bit would be to use only half of the amount of butter called for and substitute the cream for  half milk and half cream or even use whole milk instead of cream.  The other change I would make would be to cook the kale down with the cabbage and onions instead of blanching it separately.  I would love to make this dish again.

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I’ve also tried the Venison or Beef Hand Pies pg.44 pictured below.  The recipe is fantastic tasting and unusual given the addition of cabbage, carrot and onion to the beef mixture.  Spices like allspice, nutmeg, cayenne, and Spanish Smoked Paprika give the filling a spiced warmth which is savory and also slightly sweet from the Sorghum syrup.

I made a few substitutions:

  • I  used butter instead of lard in the dough and used cold milk instead of warm.
  • I also used grass-fed beef
  • substituted 1/2 Tbls. maple syrup for the Sorghum Syrup.

My recommendations are to:

  • use a heaping 1/4 cup of filling (I had about 1/2 cup filling left over because I was being careful with measuring)
  • freeze the dough rounds for 5 minutes to keep them really cold before filling
  • let the meat mixture cool completely before filling.

The dough was really easy to work with.  I recommend this recipe!

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