This page was last updated on: 4/7/02
Squirrels to Potatoes
Logan County "Food" Stories
(Mostly taken from the WVLOGAN list discussion group... authorship as indicated)
Do people in Logan really eat squirrel? Please someone please tell me how you would prepare this, not that I would eat it. Also I am curious as to what other dishes are special to West Virginia?
Denise in Philadelphia, PA
My father still squirrel hunts in Lincoln County each fall and he is 84 years old. He always has a squirrel or two in the freezer for Mom to fry for him and my uncle to eat.
Pat in Florida
There are people here in Ohio, born and raised here that eat squirrel. They hunt, clean, cook and eat squirrel. My mother-in-law, from Logan but living in Michigan at this particular time, (about 26 years ago) was fixing a raccoon for Thanksgiving. My father-in-law had shot it and she roasted it in the oven- much to my surprise. I thought they were kidding- but they weren't kidding. I told her I would rather have a peanut butter sandwich than to eat raccoon. I was ready to fix a sandwich that day when, at the last minute I was informed there was a roasted turkey with all the trimmings as well as the raccoon.
Since I married into a West Virginian family, I have learned alot and wouldn't take all the tea in China for what I have learned. My in-laws as well as my husband are deceased and I miss them so much. All of you people on the Logan List are just like the family I miss.
I love everything you write on this site. You will never know how many memories you bring to mind as I read your emails and stories. I read each and every one.
Keep 'em coming!!!!
Gloria Damron in Ohio
Squirrel with gravy and hot bread on a sunday morning is the best eating in the world.........
Same here for Mingo and Martin County. Believe mom cooked them as a stew and then made gravy. I can remember squirrel brains and gravy. Also, fried rabbit, frog legs (bull frogs) and turtle. Its againt the law to shoot a squirrel in the city limits here in Georgia but I am tempted. I have about 30-35 squirrels in my yard and they are such pests. Just visited Martin, Mingo, Logan, Cabell, Lincoln, and Ironton, Ohio last week looking for lost relatives. I can't top the story about finding grave markers but I did stop at a gas station near Louisville, Ky to fill up and I decided to purchase $10 worth of scratch off lottery tickets. The first ticket I scratched was a $100 winner. Won $106 plus 4 Pepsis with my $10. With the price of gas up there being $1.82, I smiled all the way back to Georgia but I still love coming back to WVa and Ky and having gravy and bisquits, along with eggs and fried apples for breakfast.
SQUIRREL: If our ancestors hadn't eaten squirrel, most of us wouldn't be here, our folks would have starved to death. The first gun a kid ever got was a "squirrel gun." Sharpshooters in the military from the Civil War to Desert Storm were mostly "farm boys" because the military soon learned that shooting squirrels took good eyes & these kids had had lots of practice: small target, fast mover, far off, required patience & talent!
POTATOES. Dad loved potatoes & mom had to learn how to make potato soup "the WEST VIRGINIA way" to please him. The potatoes are washed, peeled, sliced thin crosswise (not diced!), covered w/water & boiled w/sliced onions & sometimes a bit of chopped celery, til done; at the last minute you add "some" milk, salt & pepper. If we were really wealthy, she might fry a slice or two of bacon & crumple it up in the soup - but that was rare. It's charm & appeal is that it is bland & filling, nutritious & easy to digest. It's even better the 2d & 3d day. My sister & I now make it for our families, especially when anyone has been sickly in the family, one of the first things we try is WV-potato soup w/o the onions. My daughters make their potato soup the RESTAURANT thick w/sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, added mashed baked potatoes & a full pound of bacon - one bowl can give you a heart attack if you have high cholesterol but they'd rather have it thick & you can almost eat that w/a fork. It's good but THAT is NOT WV
An AAF nurse once told me that during the war overseas they boiled potatoes & then used the gummy potato water we usually pour off & fed dehydrated soldiers the potato water by the teaspoon-full, to settle their stomach, ease diarreah, & get them back in the swing of eating. (have since heard this abt rice-water as well, so who knows? maybe it's the starch.) Fried potatoes, sliced thin (yes, in bacon grease) til brown & crispy & sometimes w/an egg or two thrown in if you have it - for breakfast, dinner or supper. My brother likes it w/catsup and/or hot sauce but don't think dad's family had that back then. I vividly recall my dad saying it wasn't a meal if potatoes weren't on the table, again, breakfast, lunch & supper! Mom got real good w/the
life-saving potato. I was just frying potatoes last week & picked up the phone, called my Aunt
Dana and said, "Hey, I'm frying potatoes and couldn't help thinking of you - how are you?" She laughed and said, "Oh, I've peeled many a potato for that dish!" I've adapted too, though. Now I just wash them real good & don't peel them, & I don't use bacon grease or lard either. Dad & his nephew, my cousin/big brother-to-us, Bobbie Joe Hastings, who served in Korea War, said if you ever served in the Orient & fell into a rice paddy, you'd never eat rice again in your life. They wouldn't let a piece of rice touch their plate.
Potatoes were planted, you basically forgot them til harvest time, dug them & dad said they then put them back in the ground in a pit like thing w/layers of hay in-between; also kept some inside in the cellar in bins or barrels, for frozen days when you didn't want to go outside & dig your
meal's potatoes. I can still hear my mom holler, when dad announced unexpected company
pulling up the driveway at mealtimes, "Sue Ellen! Throw another potato and a cup of water in the soup! We've got company."
Sue Webb Bodishbaugh
Should have added to the "manuscript" on squirrels and potatoes: I have photos of my husband's family in Grayville, White County, in SE Illinois, from the 1880s & onward, at family reunions (or gatherings), they had what they called & still call, a "burgue." Everyone brought something,
one thing: potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. and it was all put in this gigantic kettle or pot that sat over a fire in the ground & cooked all a.m. while they visited. One of the treasured stories I have from my husband's cousin Norman Bodishbaugh is how as a child, it was his and his cousin
Fritz's job to get up very early the morning of the burgue and shoot the squirrels for the pot. It was always frosty cold & even as 10, 11 & 12 year olds, they felt their responsibility, to provide the meat for this large crowd and special occasion.
My Arkansas husband just read this and laughed, saying one of his fondest memories of Grandpa Kayser in Little Rock is watching him eat squirrel and spit out the bird shot. Grandpa liked to use bird shot to hunt squirrels & hubby remembers the "PING" as the shot hit the plate. Grandma would frown & hubby & his two brothers would laugh at grandpa's enviable mouth talents:
to eat, sort out, spit, hit & swallow - but then, grandpa could also play the harmonica real good. Grandma was the one who cracked the squirrel's heads and ate the brains. He says that's definitely an "acquired taste."
Back in the 30s when food was sometimes scarce;a neighbor said she going to fix supper.My mother ask her what she going to cook; she said fried pumpkin bloom.I have eaten that since and found it to be real tasty.Has a fish flavor when fried in corn meal.
I grew up eating fried squirrel and squirrel gravy. My grandpa use to hunt, skin and fix squirrel. I have home movies of "Pa" skinin' squirrel by the creek. He use to give me the tails and I would hang them from my BB gun or from my handlebars on my bike.
One of the greatest treats in my Navy career was their S.O.S. for breakfast. Only one thing ever tasted better for breakfast...
S.O.B. ......... Squirrel On Biscuits, prepared by my G-Grandmother when I was a young squirt!
Yes, squirrel is good but my father in law made it about 40 yrs ago 1 bite I got a buck shot in my mouth & that was the last. I was looking at my wild poke plant in my garden. Its ab foot high. Take stocks peel leaves off in 2 inch then pc then bread in flour & meal fry in shortening. Love it!
Oh my, I have been eyeing a whole patch of poke on one of my daily walks. I can still remember how good it was when I was a kid. We rolled it in flour and cornmeal and fried it. I have not had it since I was a kid, but still can taste it. I told my hubby I was going to bring a bag and pick me some cuz my dad said to pick it when it was about 1 or 2 feet high, after that, he said it was no good. Hubby said he did not remember it and was not going to eat it. HA HA He was raised in a coal camp in Logan, but don't remember it. My family never used the leaves of the poke plant, Isn't that what they made Poke "salad" with down south? Always wondered,
We had creasy greens fried in bacon grease for our salad. Great list, and love the stories. I went to Logan today to visit my grandmother at the nursing home in Chief Logan. I was raised in Huntington but my mother was raised in Loredo. I have many cousins up in Man, and a beloved aunt in Chapmansville.
Stop, Oh Stop!!! I'm on a diet and soooo hungry. Squirrel stew and dumplin's, Potato salad, Green beans with fatback and applebutter stackcake. Oooh, my.
Judy in Ohio
I'll bet the military adapted their recipe for SOS from WV's SOB! Dad came home from the AAF w/that recipe & he loved it. We had it often but I tho't it was just because it was cheap. We were mid-teens before we knew what SOS stood for! My kids loved it & now the grandkids beg for it when they visit. With just hubby & me now, it's very funny but nostalgic to see the bottom
of a once full frying pan of SOS, in one sitting.
I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but being born to parents from Harts, WV, we moved back home when I was in the 7th grade to Ranger, WV. I have made my fair share of trips to the mountains to pick wild mushrooms "molly moochers", and wild ramps (a cross between garlic and green onion),black berries, wild greens such as tangle gut, and dandelion greens. My dad always
hunted squirrel, rabbit, deer, grouse, wild turkey, whatever. But when I married my husband, his mother amazed me. She had 12 children, and times were hard, so I guess you HAD to make do, so she cooked possum, mud turtle (ever see somebody crack one of those!!!) and parts of a hog that I thought you were supposed to throw away! My older son loved hogs ears, but I made
him sit on the porch and eat them! She also cooked the whole head of a hog, minus the eyeballs, and made hogs head souse out of it.One thing that my mom and grandmother always made that continues to be a favorite of my families is elderberry jelly. Elderberry jelly is the best
jelly in the world!
The one good thing about this country living is, in a famine we could survive!
Yep, we ate everything a hog had except the sqeal!! I remember when my oldest son was about two ,he came in the kitchen door and saw the hogs head cooking in a big pan he ran screaming through the house .The hams were held back till late in the winter to eat as they kept well.And those wild greens were a welcome sight in the spring of the year.
First you have to shoot a squirrel.
Then you skin and clean it.
Then you cut it into pieces like you would cut up a chicken.
Boil it a couple of hours in salted water.
Drain, save broth for gravy.
Roll each piece of the squirrel in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Fry in shortening until browned.
Use the saved broth to make the gravy.
I learned a lesson after moving to Georgia and will share it with you. Do not cook a squirrel that was shot in an area with pine trees, like Georgia. They eat pine nuts and taste like turpentine.
A transplanted (reformed) squirrel cooker,
I remember daddy and his brothers hunting squirell so I am sure we ate it.
Mom and dad always saucered their coffee, never stopped.
Mom called her corn bread that she baked in a iron skillet "Johnny Cake". Daddy would crumble it up into a bowl of milk for a snack. Oh how I miss her bisquits, and milk gravy.
Tomato and Dumplings were a favorite.
No one can cook like our mom's did, right?