All this talk and research about traditional foods has gotten me interested in what my own ancestor’s ate. I would really like to do some more research and find where things went awry in my own history. My forefathers’s lived in
for four generations and were all into farming. This means all the way through to my own parents, they had home grown vegetables, chicken eggs, fresh milk and meat from their own animals, mostly pigs. Iowa
Looking through my grandmother’s cookbooks, it was obviously a pretty gradual change over time from real to processed to more processed. Lard changed to shortening and margarine, unbleached flour to bleached white, cans of this and that started popping up and I found it interesting when a recipe was calling for a new pre-made product, it would be extra specific. Another thing I noticed is that as the print date of the cookbook became more recent, there was less use of animal parts like tongue, feet and liver, cream and full fat dairy.
I came across the recipe for Jaternice in a cookbook lovingly known in our family as “The Duncan Cookbook,” compiled by a town of mostly Czech immigrants, including my great grandmother. It is a charming, community compilation that was carefully typed out on a typewriter. It reads:
Liver Sausage “Jaternice” Mrs. George Malek
Boil a pig’s head. If too fat and large, trim off the fat. Boil the heart, lungs and kidneys in the same kettle. When all is done, grind up fine. To one part of meat add two parts of stale bread. If meatier sausage is desired, add more meat. The bread must be soaked in water and squeezed dry. Add pepper, salt and marjoram. Other spices may be added also. Have ready beef casings cut into strips 6 inches long and tie one end. Proceed to fill casings with meat filling and tie remaining end. Put them in the liquid in which you have boiled the meat, putting it into one or 2 medium sized kettles. These should be not quite half full. Let the sausages simmer. Boiling rapidly will burst them. When they come to the top, remove them from the liquid and lay out to cool.
My mother comes from a Czech line, which is where Jaternice originated, but this same recipe was shared around their community and went by many different names. My parents both have fond memories of this dish as children. Traditionally the meat mixture went into beef casings to make sausage links, but both my parent’s families served “the slop” over bread. My mom remembers having to compete with all 7 of her siblings for seconds and would often gobble up the topping and sneak some more before the others would have time to finish their plate’s.