It's Yuletide, Y'All!



Jinx and I are having a great holiday season so far this year and we are wishing the merriest for all of you.

We started our Christmas season with the release of our latest book, "Calf Fries and Cow Pies," the day after Thanksgiving. "Calf Fries and Cow Pies" is a historical recipe book that pays tribute to the Southwest palate, including methods of preparation and preservation.


Uncle Lewie Pyle dressed up as Santa for many years. Here he feeds hay to "Rudolph" on Christmas Eve.

And, to quote our book, "As they preserved their foods for later use, we have attempted to preserve their recipes and remedies -- their culture -- our culture -- for future generations."

Margaret Noble joined us with her two books, "Filaree" and "Crossing Trails." Git A Rope's newest and youngest author, Morgan DiFelice, also was on hand to sign her new book, "The Witch Who Stole the Golden Shoes."

Last year, while in Susan Ryden's second-grade class at Julia Randall Elementary School, 8-year-old Morgan won the Young Author's Contest. Her story and her color illustrations are exceptional for such a young author. We are very proud of her and hope all of you read her story.

The next phase of our Christmas moved to cooking. Jinx made the Fruitcake-You-Will-Never-Forget from our book, and I made our traditional family fruitcake, which is in the fridge ripening for a couple of weeks before we slice it.

Growing up under the Rim, Jinx's family had lots of apples. They made apple cider, apple vinegar, apple jack, apple jelly, crab apple ketchup, apple pandowdy -- which makes your eyes light up and your tummy say howdy! according to Dinah Shore, 1946 -- apple crisps, and apple pies.

Our favorite apple pie recipe comes from Diane, Mrs. Ronnie McDaniel. Diane gave me the recipe a couple of years ago and I make it often. It's in the book, try it.

Most of the recipes and remedies in our book come from our families. The recipes are part of our heritage, but they also represent the heritage of many other pioneer families in the Southwest, so we have included the recipes of some friends, too.

The pioneers spent a lot of time preparing food. Uncle Lewie Pyle's Sourdough Starter and another starter recipe from my great-grandmother, Ellen Neal, will give you an idea of what they went through to make good sourdough bread. In fact, I can remember my grandmother, Birdie Hale, getting up early to make her yeast bread, then cooking breakfast before anyone else was awake. After the adults went to work, grandma Birdie was planning dinner and supper menus.

If she wasn't inside cooking, she was outside planting, weeding, or harvesting her garden. Then fruit had to be picked and canned, or dried. And there were chickens and turkeys to tend to or cook. And last but not least, she had to churn the fresh milk. She made whipped cream, buttermilk, and butter.

The recipe for Flour Sack Biscuits also provides insight into the pioneer way of life in Arizona. This is how our grandparents made biscuits. Joe Haught said his grandmother, Carrie "Mama Sam" Haught made Flour Sack Biscuits and I'll bet Joe can, too.

Getting the dough just right is pretty tricky. Jinx recalls a comment his grandad, Floyd Pyle, made after pulling biscuits from the oven, "Well, they squatted to rise and baked on the squat."

Since Southwest cuisine is a mixture of Native American, Mexican, and Anglo foods, you will find recipes for Apache cornbread, Mexican cornbread, and just plain old cornbread in our book. Marguerite Noble's Heritage Cornmeal Cakes are wonderful and a real example of simple, delicious, and nutritious bread made by the pioneer women. Marguerite says that corncakes helped to win the west.

Jinx's mom, Dorothy, used to make delicious cinnamon rolls. It's a recipe you need to try. The house smells good when they are cooking.

We wrote a special section on Christmas because it was, and still is, the most important time of the year to us. Jinx and I wrote some of our memories of Christmases past, and my cousin, Chach Barkley of Gisela, shared some of her memories of Christmas in Gisela. She recalls Ambrose Booth getting a pig's tail in his stocking.

In the Christmas section is Verda Pyle's Mincemeat Pie, Rose Childer's Old-Fashioned Fruit Salad, Belle Lovelady's Date Roll, Pat Cline's Christmas Bells, Jayne's Divinity, Aunt Myrtle Warter's Crab Cocktail, Jack Water's Tom and Jerry, and more.

Anna Mae Deming shared with us her mother's Chocolate Potato Cake. My grandmother Birdie Hale, my Aunt Dollie Hale, and Jinx's great-grandmother, Sarah Corder Pyle, also made this cake. I'm sure the women swapped a lot of their recipes.

If you like cream puffs, try Mae Holder Haught's cream puff recipe. Mae made these delightful pastries on a wood cook stove. She had to regulate the temperature with juniper wood and oak chips -- not an easy thing to do.

On my Peace side of the family, you will find my Aunt Norma Jean Peace's famous Honey-Oatmeal Cake. She brings it to the Peace reunion every year and it disappears in a hurry. My aunt Hazel Peace's Banana Oatmeal Cookies are delicious, easy to make, and a family favorite. My grandmother, Myrtle Peace, who lived in Pleasant Valley, made hundreds of custard pies from her grandmother's recipe.

We would not have a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without these pies. They are my dad's favorite.

Jinx's cousin's Sherrie Proctor sent us her recipe for corn casserole. Corn and Sweet Tomato Relishes are good ways to use up your green tomatoes, unless you decide to make a Green Tomato Cake. Speaking of cakes, we have Rose Randall's Sunshine Cake recipe, Myrtle Warter's Chocolate Éclair Cake, and Texas Sheet Cake, a must in this part of the country.

Frijoles and jerky were such a part of our early culture that we felt we had to include basic recipes for them. Anasazi Beans and Jack Warter's Cowboy Beans are also in there. If you want to know how our families roasted red and green chiles or how they made red and green chile sauce, this book will tell you. Ed Childer's Escabeche Borracho is also a hit. You would have to know Edward to fully appreciate this recipe, but when you read it, you will get an idea of Ed's character.

I want to let our readers know that my friend, Lou Ann Anderson, does not put 14 pounds of real butter in her fudge. The slash is missing. It should be 1/4 pound of real butter. Try this recipe. Lou Ann is a great cook. We cooked many different things together when our kids were having receptions. Julie Haught and I cooked special things for our kids 30 years ago, and we included her See's Fudge recipe.

Of course, we have the recipes for Calf Fries and for Cow Pies. Calf Fries, also known as Mountain Oysters, are traditional in Arizona and don't need much preparation. The recipe for Cow Pies came from Lorraine Cline of Tonto Basin. They are different and good. Lorraine is a great cook, too.

Tommie Cline Martin's Prickly Pear Poultice and Jayne's Lavendar Lotion also are there. We appreciate our family and friends who shared recipes and helped us get a better picture of how our ancestors lived. Jinx's mom, Dorothy, and his aunt Myrtle Warter, were big helps in rounding up his family recipes. We really enjoyed writing Calf Fries and Cow Pies and we think you will enjoy reading it, and hopefully, cooking some of our heritage recipes. Merry Christmas!

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