New River: bonnets, apple butter, and moonshine
What is yellow cow butter? Lytton explains it in the glossary:
In the spring, summer, and early fall when there was lots of green grass to eat, all manner of milk cows gave thick yellowish cream. This translates into yellow butter, the norm for all country foods. But in the winter when cows started to be fed dry hay, corn fodder, and very little grain, the cream they produced did not have much color. "Yellow cow butter" is the good kind. (p.1)
Something else he explains is how to test to see if the lard is hot enough to properly fry something:
We put three or four popcorn kernels in the lard to indicate the proper cooking temperature. When the lard is hot enough to pop the pocorn, you can put chicken or green tomatoes into the lard and your food won't be too greasy. (p. 2)
If you're curious about what mountain oysters are (and how to fry them), how to cure the croup, what gigging is, or how to make squirrel gravy, this is the book for you. If you want to know what life in the country was like a half century ago told by someone who's been there and done that, this is also the book for you.
I loved the down-home flavor of New River bonnets, apple butter and moonshine. I devoured the book in two days, and what I read left me hungry for more. Lytton is a consummate story-teller, and his tales of life on River Ridge are worth reading time and again. And some of the recipes sound pretty good, too.
Besides writing stories, he also tells them. At the "Authors on Grayson" event at the 2011 Galax Leaf and String Festival, I had the privilege of hearing him spin some yarns.