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Radio Readers BookByte: Recipes - Snatches of History

Melany Wilks
Colby, KS

Hi, Radio Readers – I’m Melany Wilks talking to you from my home in Colby, KS.

Today, I am bringing you some thoughts that I had as I read Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris.  Our subject discussion is on food and story this quarter.  As I read the book so many stories came into my mind.

Joanne Harris the author places the Francoise Simon in a small town, Les Laveuses. Mirabelle Dartigen shares how her mother wrote all her best recipes down in a book and handed them down to her daughter. In the midst of the recipes were snatches of history of life, especially during WWII.  It reminded me how my mother always wrote in the recipe books she used. She’d write down when it was first used it and what the occasion was.  Then she would write down how she changed the recipe to make it better or easier. 

Food is a family thing for my brothers and sisters.  I was talking to my brother around Easter time this year when he asked me if I remembered “Egg Curry?” I told him yes, and I still love to make it. When my family had little money with four children to feed, my mother would buy eggs to decorate for Easter.  After the Easter egg hunt was over, we would refrigerate the eggs, then mom would slice up the eggs, make a white sauce seasoned with yellow curry.  We would cook white rice and spoon over the egg curry sauce. Voila, we had a gourmet meal with extravagant spices!

Food was not wasted in our family. My mom could prepare something from just about nothing.  Like this book, parts of the animal that most would consider unhealthy today, was a normal meal for my family: liver and onions, kidney stew, menudo, brains & eggs. Canning and preserving food was done yearly.  We did not throw food out just because of a bad spot or bug.  You cut it out and put it in a jam or salsa. My family ranch had survived through the depression and my grandmother and mother were determined to ensure that we always had enough to make it through a crisis.

As an adult, my mother opened a restaurant and shared her love for cooking with a small town.  Her roasts, soups, chili, pies and deserts became well known in the town.  My mom died about 12 years ago, but I kept many of her handwritten recipes she kept at the restaurant. When I need a good recipe, I will dig through the notebook that organizes all my recipes. There I will find the recipes in my mom’s handwriting waiting to be cooked and enjoyed!

Five Quarters of an Orange uses her mom’s recipes with a twist.  The twists and turns will continue to build the suspense of the book as you read!

I’m Melany Wilks from Colby, Kansas for the HPPR Radio Readers Club. This is our 2017 Read-Food and Story.