Marge Leonard will lead a discussion of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. A 2019 novel by Kim Michele Richardson, this book celebrates the government library workers who carried reading material by horseback or mule to the people of the rural Appalachian territory. Learn, also, about the blue-skinned people who were ostracized because of the color of their skin.
Details about Cussy Mary's blood disorder, methemoglobinemia, which causes the appearance of blue skin, are based on information about the Fugate family that lived in the hills of Kentucky during the 19th Century. Around 1820, Martin Fugate and Elizabeth Smith married. As both were carriers of the recessive met H gene, four of their seven children exhibited blue skin. They, in turn had children producing a limited local gene pool and resulting in many descendents of the Fugates exhibiting blue skin. Fugates settled in the areas of Troublesome Creek and Ball Creek into the 20th Century and eventually came to the attention of nurse Ruth Pendergrass and hematologist Madison Cawein III. Cawein researched a 1960's report of Native Alaskans who exhibited the same condition, and it was determined that the cause was oxygen deficiency in the red blood cells, making the blood appear brown and the skin of those affected appear blue. (wikipedia)
"Cawein treated the [Fugate] family with methylene blue, which eased their symptoms and reduced the blue coloring of their skin." His research was published in 1964, in the Archives of Internal Medicine. (wikipedia)
Benjamin Stacy, born in 1975, is the last known descendant of the Fugates who exhibited physical evidence of this disorder, which manifested itself as blue tinges on his lips and fingertips if he was cold or agitated. Searches for other direct links with the Fugates have proved inconclusive. (wikipedia)
Scripture Cakes were popular in Appalachia at the turn of the 20th Century. Women used verses from the Bible that mentioned a food ingredient and made up the recipes in an effort to teach their children both Scripture and cooking. In The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Cussy Mary uses precious ingredients and money to bake a Scripture cake for the festival. A recipe might look like this:
Equipment: Tube or Bundt Pan, Electric Mixer
1 1/2 C sugar (Jeremiah 6:20)
3 T water (John 4:13.)
1/3 C water (warm). (John 4:13-14)
1/4 C butter (Judges 5:250
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter, sugar and honey together in a large bowl.
Mix in the 5 egg yolks, reserving the egg whites.
Sift: 2 1/2 C flour, salt, baking powder and spices in a separate bowl. Then slowly
incorporate this into the creamed butter and sugar, adding milk for moisture as you do.
Using the electric mixer, whip the egg whites in a separate bowl, until stiff. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter.
Dredge chopped figs, almonds and raisins with the reserved 1/2 C flour, and fold them into the batter.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes.
For the Golden Syrup:
In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar with 3 T water, stirring frequently to prevent
sticking. Allow to brown.
Slowly add the 1/3 C of warm water and continue to stir. Stir in the butter and remove from the heat. Allow to cool Pour the syrup over the cake and top with more chopped almonds.