In the Kitchen with Will

Excerpts from Will Rogers Cookbook, edited by Donna Raymond:

coverwr2“I am a fair eater,” [Will Rogers] admitted on his April 27, 1930, radio broadcast, “I don’t eat correctly, but I eat a lot.” Though a publicly confessed hardy eater, Will was neither a gourmet nor a gourmand. During his career he was feted at many an urbane banquet table; he was invited by magnates, millionaires and world leaders; he ate at the White House and he dined with nobility, yet he never developed an appetite for any of society’s haute cuisine.

It was not that he was unfamiliar with so-called sophisticated delicacies and international dishes; he had tasted most of them from caviar in Russia to bird’s nest soup in China, from pheasant under glass in France to baked Alaska at the Waldorf-Astoria. In that respect he was unlike Tom Mix, the famous cowboy star. Mix, so it was reported, said after a dinner given in his honor at the Astor Hotel in New York City: “I et for two hours and didn’t recognize a thing I et except an olive.”

Despite the adulation of an era, despite riches and fame, despite familiarity with around-the-world cookery, Will Rogers’ life and diet stayed rather basic. It has been said that you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Will Rogers, the world’s first multi-media super-star, part cowboy, part Indian, lived his simple philosophy: “I am just an old country boy in a big town trying to get along. I have been eating pretty regular, and the reason I have been is because I have stayed an old country boy.”

Here are some selected recipes for the season from the Will Rogers Cookbook:

Mrs. Rogers’ Southern Green Beans

2 lbs. string beans
½ lb. salt pork
1 medium onion, peeled
1 quart water
Salt and pepper

Cut beans approximately 1-½ inches in length. Cube and brown salt pork. Bring water to boil, add beans, salt pork, onion and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer slowly 2 to 3 hours.

Submitted by Mr. Emil Sandmeier who worked for the Rogers family for many years and reports that very simple dishes were cooked at the Ranch House.

Will Rogers Centennial Celebration Corn Bread

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup soft butter
1 large egg (or two small)
1 cup milk

Combine all dry ingredients, mix well. Add butter, blend well. Add egg and milk. Mix all together until just blended. Pour into well-buttered 8” square pan. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 25 minutes.

Centennial Luncheon Apple Crisp – A favorite of Betty Blake Rogers, Will’s Wife

4 cups slides apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup water

Mix together the above ingredients.

¾ cup sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter

Rub the three above ingredients together. Dip mixture over apples. Bake. Serve warm with whipped cream. Use a buttered 10x6x2” baking dish.
Temperature: 350 degrees
Time: 40 minutes
Amount: 6 servings

“The day I roped Betty, I did the star performance of my life.” – Will Rogers