Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Harpole breaks our roadkill recipes just in time for the holidays

I wish I was a child again sometimes, if for no other reason than being able to eat my Mamma’s cooking.

Although I watched her prepare my favorite meals and laboriously copied obscure but wonderful recipes to assure that my future was assured with regards to necessary culinary delights, I got it wrong.

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No matter how closely I followed and copied her recipes, somehow it just didn’t seem to come up to par, at least as I remember it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not exactly infamous as a cook myself. I am an honorary member of the “One-Eyed Beagle Boys” wild game cookin’ confederation. In the past 10 years we have had to add an extra fireplace mantle to hold the trophies we’ve won, which continue to overflow.

As a general rule, good ole boys learn to cook just to spite their ex-wives and impress their children. The trophies are just a bonus and should not be seriously considered.

 That is the biggest lie I have ever written.

A truly good cook can make something tasty out of whatever comes to hand or got ran over recently.

Sometimes the menu came out of the farm slaughtering pen or the hen yard and often as not supermarket discount meat.

Something really good involved the garden or truck patch vegetables. That fact in itself might account for the discrepancies in the Harpole version of homemade vegetable soup.

These days it invariably depends on road kill, leftover fish bait, and vegetables that haven’t been acquainted with a garden since Batesville was a cow pasture.

Sometimes the cans that dispense them are so rusty one might be reminded of the Hoover Administration.

Ya know, that just might make a difference. Still, if you do it right it can be better than just edible; occasionally it will be good.

But not as good as mama used to make. Last week I made up a batch and served it with hot water, corn bread and iced tea (both kinds, sweet with lemon and bittersweet) and the dogs couldn’t eat it or me either because the company beat us to it. Nobody got sick afterwards either (except me and the dogs who didn’t get any). We caught the miss-meal colic and had to go to McDonald’s for treatment.

Here are a few tips to aid you in evaluating and harvesting road kill.

1. Never kill it yourself except at a last resort. It’s hard on the vehicle.

2. Never harvest it unless there is frost on the ground and not on the animal. That is a key indication of freshness.

3. Make sure it’s not someone’s pet before you skin it.

4. Beware of camp pets that smell like defoliant in a cotton field, at all costs.

5. If it has “done swole up” don’t poke it.

6. Keep your pistol handy in case it ain’t dead yet.

Now as to fish bait, that is good stuff. Crawfish, small perch, hot dogs…that is bait.

 (Catfish love hotdogs for dinner for about two weeks.)

I once caught a 45-pound white Humpback on a hotdog. I think if it had of had a little mustard and relish on it I would have caught a 50-pounder–although it would have probably sunk my leaky boat.

Anything that has gone “post-pleasantly aromatic” is only good for bait and will not attract anything but a fish, and not a tasty fish at that. All things considered, you can prepare a larrupin’ good meal as long as you don’t pay too much attention to what might have been written on a Walmart can.

I actually recently bought a can of beans to further intensify the flavor of the most recent concoction, and upon opening the can, found that it contained one US pint of a liquid (unidentifiable) and 11 beans. As far as could be determined they neither added to nor detracted from the flavor of the vegetable soup, but they did cost $1.18, which is “close enough to government work” as the value of the price of a possum hide.

Watch the road. Eat the bait. Stay out of jails and ditches.

Ricky Harpole
(Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)