Food and Cooking: Nothing Moo Under the Sun

I’m reading, “The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. As I do, I see parallels with 1928 and what’s going on today. Believe it or not, even cows offer nothing new under the sun. Just as they did in the days before the Great Depression, they’re very much in the news. And somehow, they’ve managed to work their way into the political discourse.

Henry Ford did not like cows and he let America know it. To Ford, cows never stopped eating and they left their slurry everywhere. He believed that crime and health could be attributed to a person’s diet and his reasoning was that people who filled up on steak were more likely to steal than those who didn’t fill up on steak. And those who indulged in butter fats, he said, were more likely to get sick. “Bad food causes crime,” was his rallying cry, believing that if people ate right, they would act right. To Ford, eating right meant no beef and no butterfat.

Henry Ford didn’t win that battle and isn’t it interesting that the meat/no meat conversation continues today. One decade a substance is bad, the next decade it’s a miracle food. Makes for plenty of apathy for those of us who’ve lived more than a few decades. But if you’re looking for ways to decrease your meat eating, I’ve got just the book for you. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:



Too Old to be Generation X… Too Young to Be a Baby Boomer… Call Me a BoXer…

I don’t care what the cutoff date is, I’ve never felt like a Baby Boomer. I went to college late in life, surrounded by Generation X. They were younger, but they were my peers. Nonetheless, I wasn’t part of that classification, so I’ve decided to take it upon myself and create a new group. I’m going to call them BoXers. Boomers with an X. Here is a little criterion for being a BoXer:

You feel a generation gap between yourself and Baby Boomers.

You relate to both Generation X and Baby Boomer culture and music.

You panic when someone asks you to go in-depth about the politics of Vietnam. Watergate makes you waffle too.

You feel like a little kid around Boomers. They can be intimidating, especially if they ask what YOU were up to during the sixties. They’re proud of what they did. And should be.

In 1965, you stood in front of the dime store with a furry coat, tight, TIGHT pants and a rat-tailed comb sticking out of your back pocket.

You know what the Bump and the Hustle are, and you were a BG’s fan.

Your place in history is not behind the millions of Boomers, it’s at the beginning of another era. An era in which we embraced nature. Even hugged trees. Literally. We became vegetarians when no restaurants provided meat-free alternatives. We watched people die of AIDS. We stared at the TV when David Bowie did weird things on MTV and if we were lucky enough to afford a ticket to see the Rolling Stones, we watched Mick Jagger ride on a giant inflatable penis. We were children when JFK died, I remember, but I remember that I didn’t understand. We watched as colored people became Blacks who fought for their rightful place in American society. While Black musicians provided us with the best music to dance to. Ever.

I will never be a Baby Boomer. I have friends who feel the same way. And I cannot for the life of me, understand how such a cool, intelligent, fighting force of young people, allowed themselves to be called Baby Boomers. Perhaps the time has come for them to revolt against that title. Because as we all know, these were the young people who were excellent at revolution. I see them all the time. Still leading the way. I tip my hat to them. Better yet, I take it off and wave it. They knew how to create excitement and make change. They deserve a more dignified title. They are no longer babies. They never were.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Chimney Fire. Available here:


OMG… Did the Bread Taste Like Cow Manure?

Canva EVALINE's FIDDLE Kindle Cover March 2016Believe it or not, Mid-Western Pioneers made cute little houses out of chunks of grass. They were so proud of their new homes, they put flowers in the window sill, happy to have a house. Even if it was made out of dirt.

Once the pioneers had a home, they built kitchens and the women went to work cooking and baking. There were no trees on the prairie, (if they’d had trees, they’d have built their homes out of wood, obviously) so they had to burn cow manure to keep warm and to cook with. Cow manure lies in the field saucer-shaped, and when it dries, it burns well (not speaking from experience, just what I read). They called them “cow pies” and the name still sticks today.

Years ago, before our rural home had electricity, I had a large wood-burning, cast iron cook stove. It had burners on the top and an oven below. It was cute as can be but I tired of going back and forth outside for kindling to keep the fire going and the black that got all over the pots and pans made it to my face and clothes. Pretty is as pretty does.

Imagine though, going back and forth outside to retrieve cow manure to cook and bake. Pretty gross. But people did what they had to do to make a new life for themselves and hey, who doesn’t have to take a little s*#t now and then to get ahead? The story coming out of the era is a bit more telling. At first, the women kept washing their hands after they handled the cow pies, but eventually, they quit being queasy about it and quit washing their hands. They’d pick up the cow pie, throw it into the fire and without washing their hands, go back to kneading their dough. Thank goodness the fire was hot and killed the funky microbes and parasite eggs that were surely embedded in the cow pies. Oh… the good old days.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Early American love story, Evaline’s Fiddle. Available here: