Kate Flora: I was thinking that I should tidy up my office today. Books and papers have a tendency to spread out until they cover every surface. As is often the case with tidying, I got as far as putting away a handful of books and got stuck in Marjorie Mosser’s Good Maine Food. Mosser was Kenneth Roberts’ secretary for many years, and the cookbook came about, in part, because of a chapter he wrote in one of his books about Maine food. The chapter was published in The Saturday Evening Post and resulted in a flood of mail sharing old family recipes. The end result of those responses and other cogitations on Maine food resulted in the cookbook.
The book is full of comments by Mr. Roberts and excerpts from his books, and I landed on the chapter called “Beverages” which begins with Hot Buttered Rum (1):
Hot buttered rum, Maine’s earliest drink, was doubtless of inestimable benefit to hardy pioneers who needed internal warmth to protect them from the rigors of a Maine winter. It’s a dangerous drink, however, from delicately nurtured moderns. It’s not only heavy in the stomach and violent in its action but the butter seals the fumes of the alcohol within the drinker. When other drinks are poured in on top of hot buttered rub, the effects are frequently both disastrous and lasting.
From this introduction we get, not a recipe for the rum, but a section from Northwest Passage:
Cap placed his keg upon a table; slapped it affectionately. “This here’s the medicine for food-poisoning, like what you fellers pro’ly got from your insides not being built up strong and seasoned. It aint no ordinary rum, that’s had all the good taken out of it by being strained and doctored and allowed to grow weak with age. This here’s third-run rum, real powerful, more like food than drink. When you drink it, you can taste it. Rum’s intended to take hold of you, and that’s what this does.
After another page and a half extolling the benefits of rum and its effects, we have reached the recipe:
A single portion of hot buttered rum is made as follows:
Half fill an ordinary tumble with boiling water; then throw out the water
Into the hot tumbler, put ½ inch of hot water and in it dissolve 1 teaspoon full of sugar, white or brown
Add a pat of butter the size of an individual helping in a hotel
Pour in a jigger of rum about ¾ of an inch
Add ½ teaspoonful of powdered cinnamon, fill up with hot water, stir vigorously and serve
Or: This recipe, made famous by Trader Vic, which was dubbed “Northwest Passage”
Make a batter by mixing together 5 pounds of yellow sugar, 1 pound of butter, 1 oz. vanilla. Put batter in a mason jar.
Have stick cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla beans nearby
In a fair-sized tumbler, put 1 teaspoon of batter, a piece of stick cinnamon, 1 vanilla bean and 3 cloves. Pour in a good-sized jigger of good rum that tastes like rum and fill the tumbler with boiling water.
Onward in the chapter comes a recipe for Rumrousal (ever heard of it?)
1 Quart of Jamaica rum
3 quarts whole milk
1 ½ c. honey
½ pint of bourbon
Serve chilled or hot, as desired.
Hot rum and milk? Rum and cold milk? Perhaps once there’s rum, temperature doesn’t matter.
Along with recipes, each chapter has some tips from Maine kitchens. Perhaps some of these will be useful.
If food is too salty, stretch a clean cloth tightly over the container, sprinkle a handful of flour on the cloth and let container simmer. In a few moments, the flour will absorb the surplus salt.
To clean silverware without rubbing, let it stand overnight in sour milk. In the morning, heat milk to the boiling point.
Tinware is best cleaned with sifted wood ashes.
And for cooking vegetables:
To bake tomatoes or peppers more handily, put them in muffin tins
The odor of garlic or onion may be removed from hands and mouth by eating celery and rubbing the hands with the tops
Go forth and rub yourselves with celery.
The book also has recipes for wild goose, coot stew, and porcupine livers.
In the next pile, a list of editing symbols, my character list from The Darker the Night and my notes on runes. A small yellow sticky that reads: Dammit I’m Mad. Another that simply says: Oh Yuk Jetted Tub Cleaner. Yet another has shorthand for text messaging: CYT IRK CM CU
You can see why I never get my office cleaned.