Marian Carcache: Dusted with Clabber Girl

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Last month my writer’s group, The Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers, released our latest “cookbook.”  In keeping with our penchant for playing on the titles of actual cookbooks by famous chefs, we named it Mastering the Art of Wench Cooking in homage to the Julia Child’s classic with a similar name.  Our first “cookbook” was The Ploy of Cooking (2012), a nod to Irma Rombauer’s popular bestseller, The Joy of Cooking.

What sets our cookbooks apart — other than our clever titles and lovely illustrations by Mystic artist Margee Bright-Ragland — is that our recipes spin off of stories, poems, or memories each of us has written.  Though the stories are the focus and the recipes themselves are what a good Louisianan might refer to as lagniappe – a little something extra –  many are actually good, making the book functional as well as fun.

I’ve already made Gail’s “Forgotten Cookies” and Katie’s “Commitment for Naught Soup,” and I have every intention of trying my hand at Mary’s “Kentucky Bourbon Balls” (as well as her love potion), Joanne’s “Alphabet Soup,” and Margee’s “Caprese Salad.”  A few non-Mystic “sous chefs” added some recipes, too, including Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s “Seahorse Chili,” Mary Helen Brown’s “Drive-by Biscuits,” and Jordan Danford’s “Lemon Cookies.”




My section of the book includes only meatless recipes. One of my favorites is a recipe for butter roll, a wonderful “old timey” dessert made from butter, sugar, flour, milk, nutmeg, and vanilla.  My grandmother used to make it for me, but I find very few people who claim to know about it now. Here’s Ephemera, the poem I wrote that accompanies the recipe.

Some are so old,

 so tenuous and fragile

That I am almost

 afraid to touch them:

Dusted with Clabber Girl 

and Swan’s Down

And Crisco stains now 

turned brown

On old bank slips 

and envelopes

Index cards and 

thank-you notes

Scribbled in pencil

 or faded ink

Copied by hands now gone.

A relative claimed 

the white iron bed

Along with the 

hand sewn crazy quilt

Another took the 

embroidered spread

And the oak table 

a relative built.

“I want the photos

and the shoebox of recipes;

That’s all I want, “ I said.

 I sit here in my bed tonight

Surrounded by my grandmother, now ten years dead

As she waves at the camera

In black and white

On Panama City Beach

Or as the leaves change behind her in Cherokee.