Literary Recipes Inspired by “The Cows Under the Mountain” by James Fruit
Title: The Cows Under The Mountain
By: James Fruit
“Goll-y Patty, smells mighty fine! Whatta ye got in that oven, rabbit? Woodchuck?”
She skipped over to him, rattling the leaded windows, and raised her chins to plant a wet kiss on his dusty lips. “You’re just going to have to wait and see-eee, Jasper Lee Bonnet!” she answered in her throaty sing-song voice. Her eyes glinted above her full jiggling cheeks. She had blood on her polka dot dress, but that weren’t his concern.
They set the long table, cradling the precious old crockery like newborn birds, handing out the forks and spoons to the soft white claws of the children. Jasper, in a fresh checkered shirt, sat at the head in the tall oakburl chair, which squeaked as he squeezed his swollen knees beneath the gnarled table top. Patty busied herself bringing in steaming dishes of mushed whitepeas, sorghum casserole, taters, and black hominy. Then she brought in the big covered tray, balancing it carefully on her thick palms, and laid it in the center of the table. Beaming, she lifted the lid. Jasper dropped his fork to the plate with a rattle, his breath hitching in his throat.
On the serving tray nestled eight pink triangles of roasted meat; freshly cut, bone-in, and dripping with succulent juices. Steam wafted from them, carrying that smell.
Jasper dully met his wife’s eyes. They were still gleaming; he now knew it was with madness. He felt himself rising to his feet, crossing the room to her.
“Susie Hedner brought it by,” she was still grinning. “Said her Paul caught it halfway out of an old steam vent, and walloped it before it could crawl back down! I cut it up all by myself. Can you believe it? Veal! Veal, in all my life, I never thought I’d…”
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
• 1 can sweet peas, drained
• 1 can small white beans, drained
• ¼ stick butter (or ounce of lard)
• ¼ cup water
• ½ cup diced celery stalk
• 2 teaspoons table salt
-Melt the butter in a sauce pan at just below medium heat.
-Add the peas, beans and celery, pour the water atop them.
-Cook over medium heat, stirring often, adding salt.
-When they’re nice and soft, remove from heat, then mush it up with a spoon.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
• 3 cups whole grain sorghum, already boiled soft in chicken broth
• 2 cups cheddar cheese, cubed
• ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
• 1 cup crisped rice cereal
• 2 fresh cloves garlic, minced
• 1 big yellow onion, diced
• 2 jalapeños, sliced
• 1 egg
-Before you begin, thrash and roughly chop the sorghum, then boil for ten minutes in chicken broth. Drain and then place in fridge while you prepare the rest.
-Preheat the oven to 375.
-Mix the garlic, onion, jalapeños and egg in a bowl, then add the sorghum, then the crispies.
-Grease a large oven-safe casserole dish, any tasty oil will do but peanut oil is best.
-Pour half the mix evenly into the casserole so that it covers the whole bottom.
– Then scatter half the cheddar cubes at regular intervals across the surface. Push them in with your finger.
-Add the rest of the vegetable crispy mix, then repeat the cheese process again.
-Sprinkle the top with the shredded jack cheese.
-Bake for forty minutes uncovered.
-Slice into squares and serve with a spatula.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
• 4 large brown potatoes
• Fresh parsley, torn up by hand
• Coarse ground salt
• ½ cup peanut oil
-Preheat oven at 350.
-Wash the potatoes, then stab them a few times with a fork so they don’t burst.
-Bake the potatoes for fifty minutes on the bottom rack before turning off oven. Let them cool.
-Now heat the oil to medium in a frying pan or wok.
-Get a little extra oil in your hand with some of the shredded parsley and salt.
-Rub then squeeze each potato roughly in your hand, so it cracks up but stays in form.
-Lay them gently in the hot oil, careful not to splash yourself!
-Fry them for about seven minutes each, so they get fearsome crispy. Add more salt on there.
-Pull them out and lay on a paper towel on a plate. Add more salt and parsley. Serve warm.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
• 2 cans Mexican hominy
• 1 can pumpkin meat or pumpkin pie filling
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 1 ounce cheap rum
• ½ stick of butter
• 1 tablespoon molasses
• 1 pinch allspice
-Melt the butter in a pot on medium.
-Add the hominy, cook for a bit.
-Add the pumpkin. Keep cooking for ten minutes.
-Mix the sugar, cream, rum, allspice and molasses. Add to pot, stirring vigorously.
-Keep stirring, it’s going to be kind of sticky.
-Cook for thirty five minutes, or more.
-Either serve hot on a winter’s day or pour into pudding cups and serve chilled.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
• 8 small bone-in veal chops
• 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and broken with a spoon then minced
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 tablespoon rosemary
• 1 tablespoon thyme
• 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 Teaspoon lavender
• 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
-Mix the oil, garlic, herbs, pepper, salt and vinegar in a bowl, set aside.
-Rinse the chops in very cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place them on a wooden cutting board.
-Tenderize the chops by beating enthusiastically with meat tenderizing mallet. Try to crack the small bones so that marrow leaks into the flesh while cooking.
-Drop each chop into the herb and oil bowl, and stir it around to coat. Soak them for one minute each, then set each on the broiler rack.
-Broil on high, six minutes for the first side, six minutes or less for the second.
-Serve bloody and steaming hot.
Note: All dishes are gluten-free.
James Fruit is a contributing writer for Café Américain and a third-year candidate in the American University’s Creative Writing MFA program.