Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lucy Horton: Where Are You Now?


Doesn't she look like someone you'd like to share some mead with? Lucy Horton's cookbook, Country Commune Cooking, was at the bottom of a cardboard box of books at a garage sale two weeks ago. I've always been intrigued by the idea of communal living, so I was excited to see that the book contained not only recipes, but page upon page of descriptions of her interactions with the "freaks" and "longhairs" (as they proudly referred to themselves) she met while hitching around the country from commune to commune, gleaning their most successful recipes. It 's not surprising that many of the freaks' ideas about food at that time are now being implemented and seen as revolutionary "green" or "organic" lifestyle choices. They were very aware of the necessity to cut back on processed foods, grow chemical-free food, and minimize meat eating. These were some of the grass roots of the organic movement, in fact, to quote the Wall St. Journal's Ray Sokolov "she assembled the crucial artifacts of a movement within The Movement."
I tried googling Lucy to see what she's been up to lately. I hope she's well and healthy, maybe still in the Vermont commune that was being created upon publication of her book, maybe mixing up a batch of tortillas (lots of these communes were in New Mexico) or Soybean Casserole.



18 comments:

tut-tut said...

This is exactly the kind of cookbook I'd like to have in my collection. I've got a co-op one from the 1970s . . .

Squirrel said...

Interesting Post!!!

There was another commune in Tennessee that had a great cookbook-- besides great recipes for turnips and other things people usually ignore, I used their bread and granola recipes all the time. but I lost the book ... and also lost the will to bake bread and granola from scratch.

tut-tut said...

In fact, I ordered it from a used book source . . .

Joanne said...

Ah, the mystery. Let us know if you ever track down Lucy! What was the copyright on the book? Late 60s, early 70s? Interesting how the commune's menu is popular now. They were ahead of their time.

JGH said...

Squirrel and Tut, I'd be interested in knowing the titles of your other commune cookbooks. I enjoyed this one so much that I may start a collection, though I'll bet they're pretty hard to locate now!

Joanne, the cookbook was copyright 1972.

Tut, I think you're going to love the book. It's one of those that's almost more fun to read than cook from.

I also like to collect the "lost" church and PTA cookbooks.

Daphne said...

That sounds like an interesting book. I've always been fascinated with communal living too. The cohousing movement I find more of a match to today's society than communes. Though maybe the idea of communes is to separate from society more than to integrate with it.

bobschwalbach said...

I spent time with Lucy at Frog Run Farm in Vermont shortly after she'd completed her book. I peeled many an onion to go in her pot with a wooden match held between my teeth to keep away the tears. There was always a jug of maple syrup in the center of the great round table to slather on any food. And, oh! the potato volcano!

JGH said...

Bob, thanks for sharing that! How cool that you knew her and got to cook with her. I'd love to hear more "cooking with Lucy" stories!

I remember the potato volcano story-- she said that after it was made everyone stood around admiring it at first, afraid to dig in. Then it was devoured in a frenzy!

Daniel Millstone said...

I knew Lucy Horton and her brother when they were in High School, have not seen either one in 45 years or so. I'd love to find them again. If you find her, please drop me a note: daniel.millstone@gmail.com

Gershon Ferency said...

Hi, I just came across your blog while searching for Lucy.
I was a neighbor of sorts of Frog Run, and loved to spend time in the kitchen! Once, Lucy brought me something she'd made, a confectionary of sorts, made with dates. I was very attracted to her, but at that time I did not like dates!
I'd love to be in contact with her again.

Daniel Millstone said...

I found Lucy Horton. I am told, by her brother Chris, she sells books on the internet from Allentown PA. where she's listed in the phone book. I will telephone, email etc. now.

JGH said...

Gershon, thanks for stopping by and sharing that memory. According to Dan Millstone (see the next comment) she is alive and well and online in Allentown, PA!

Daniel, how great that you tracked down both Lucy and her brother! Please let us know her website if you can. I'd love to know if she's still writing...

Anonymous said...

This was my very first cookbook. I was in high school at the time and had become a vegetarian. I made the potato volcano many times and lots of the other recipes. Lucy gave me my start in cooking. Wherever you are Lucy "thank you". I still make the bagels and many other favorits

Anonymous said...

This was my very first cookbook. I was in high school at the time and had become a vegetarian. I made the potato volcano many times and lots of the other recipes. Lucy gave me my start in cooking. Wherever you are Lucy "thank you". I still make the bagels and many other favorites.

Anonymous said...

I am an old friend of Lucy's from Vermont commune days and can tell you that she is happily married and lives with her husband in Pennsylvania

tut-tut said...

JGH: L was just reading this cookbook and I googled it and your post came up! Glad Lucy Horton is alive and well and living in Pennsylvania! Who's Anonymous, I wonder . . . Your seeds are clothes pinned to my seed area, awaiting the spring. Say hi to Squirrel, and I will see you in April

Anonymous said...

I lived on a commune in the 70's, Livewood outside Eugene, Oregon. Lucy, alas, never visited us, but we bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed it for the recipes, but especially for the vignettes of commune life, and we all fell in love with Lucy Horton and her picture. Lucy, where are you now? I'd love to thank you. Scott Hauser sqhauser@gmail.com

Bill said...

When I was around 19 and my then older girlfriend (now wife) lived in a rent controlled apartment in the Berkeley hills. She made me pizza one night. i was primed and dug in. I spat it out almost immediately. I thought it was a pepperoni pizza but it had carrots on it! Turns out it was from Lucy's cookbook. I hated it.Ah memories. We still laugh about that pizza.