Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Little White Lab Rat Loses Courage

Little White Lab Rat Loses Courage

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 05, 2009

I copied this recipe from the Young Woman’s Journal of 1921, where it appears in one of those domestic features concerning balanced menus and recipes-every-woman-should-know. I fully intended at least to prepare this dish – out of solidarity with my sisters of nearly a century ago, doncha know – and describe for you the experience; whether I could have eaten it, or instead would have offered it to my cat, is a question I had not resolved when I copied it.

But no. I just can’t. I will devein a shrimp, but any recipe that involves arteries and clotted blood is beyond me. And thus we see the limit of my willingness to serve you, dear reader. Alas.

In case there are those among you who actually like these things, I present for your enjoyment this authentic recipe for a genuine, thrifty, old-time Mormon main dish that some of our grandmothers may have learned to prepare in Mutual. Your next Young Women’s activity, anyone?

Braized Heart with Dressing

Wash a calf’s heart, remove the veins, arteries, and clotted blood; stuff with bread dressing:

3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup stock or hot water
1 tsp. ground sage
1 tblsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. chopped red pepper
1 tsp. salt

and sew together at the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour and brown in hot fat; place in a small deep baking pan, fill the pan half full of boiling water, cover closely, and bake slowly 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. It may be necessary to add more water. Remove the heart from the pan and thicken the liquor with flour mixed to a thin paste with cold water, using 2 tblsp. flour for every cup of liquid. Season with salt and pepper and pour around the heart before serving.

(Abbreviations and recipe format modernized somewhat, but otherwise unchanged)

(Title pun deliberate. Not funny, just deliberate)



  1. Four out of five doctors recommend that open heart surgery not be performed in the kitchen. That is just wrong.

    Comment by Justin — March 5, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  2. Keepapostinem like this. The nausea helps me with my diet. Skin crawling counts as exercise, right?

    Comment by Jami — March 5, 2009 @ 7:59 am

  3. That intro is hilarious.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 5, 2009 @ 8:10 am

  4. Yikes. Yikes.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — March 5, 2009 @ 9:37 am

  5. The year after my mission (1974-75), I shared an off-campus apartment with several other guys. One of my roommates — his first name was, I believe, Wayne, though senility prevents me from remembering his last name — was very much into weight lifting and body building. Almost daily he would sauté strips of beef heart with lots of garlic (powdered as I recall) and then eat them. Often he would do this for breakfast. That may be my single most vivid memory from the year in that apartment: the sounds and smells of Wayne frying strips of heart with garlic.

    Yes, I tried some. It tasted like a chewy, garlicky steak. And since I had other roommates who would, for example, eat Capn’ Crunch cereal 3-4 meals a day, I couldn’t criticize Wayne very much. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — March 5, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  6. “and sew together at the top.”

    And sew together at the top?! “Sew together”?!

    I think I may throw up.

    Comment by Hunter — March 5, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  7. Oops. “Might” throw up.

    Comment by Hunter — March 5, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  8. Ardis, the key to this recipe is in the “unwritten order of things.” Don’t think that “liquor” refers to the juices from the heart, mixed with the water and the spices and all–it really means the jug of moonshine in the pantry.

    So, take out that jug regularly while cooking the heart and take a healthy swig. But for goodness sakes don’t mix any flour with the booze before drinking.

    By the time the heart is cooked, or the jug is empty, whichever comes first, you’ll be ready to eat anything.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 5, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  9. This post brings the following to mind: ralph, spew, puke, upchuck, yak, vomit, hurl, barf…

    in other words: Great Post!

    Comment by Catania — March 5, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  10. Heart and all organ meats have a huge amount of cholesterol. Otherwise I … would … eat … them …. yum!

    Comment by Tatiana — March 5, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  11. Heart actually sounds slightly better to me than liver, but then I am no fan of liver. And the fact that you have to “remove clotted blood” and then sew it up, makes it too much to even think about.

    There has got to be a good Addams Family joke in all of this, but all I can think of right now is “Eat your heart out!”

    Comment by kevinf — March 5, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

  12. Holy cow, Ardis.

    Comment by jeans — March 5, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  13. Ardis, you’ve accomplished the impossible. I’m speechless.

    Comment by Ray — March 5, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  14. You are correct, jeans. To get the heart out it’s necessary to make a hole in the— never mind.

    Ardis, I considered passing this along to my wife so she could do it with her Mia Maids, but I don’t think I will.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — March 5, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  15. Maybe Paul’s wife could feed this to him as a substitute for his sugar craving. It will take him off food for good.

    Comment by Maurine — March 5, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

  16. Ew! And not only is one asked to eat this poor little calfie’s heart, but actually to look at it seven extra times (while basting). I wonder, when the heat escapes each time, does the thing sort of collapse a little, as if it were . . . beating . . . ?

    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 5, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

  17. The gross stuff would probably be done today by the butcher–it is the sort of thing our foremothers took for granted. Chicken for dinner? Go get the axe, and get ready for a stinky, slimy pluck and chuck (and up-chuck for those of us with weak stomachs) process. After that, the rest is like stuffing a turkey. I’ll have to make this to serve with the dilly bread!

    Comment by Eric Boysen — March 6, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  18. Sounds delicious. Seriously. Doesn’t anyone eat chicken or turkey hearts? I wish I’d had this recipe a few years ago when a colleague slaughtered an emu. The drumstick meat was a little tough, but the heart was delicious.

    Comment by Left Field — March 6, 2009 @ 7:06 am

  19. #15, Thanks a lot Maurine! Beth needs no encouragement, especially not with cow hearts. I grew up in a ranching family. We ate a lot of liver which I enjoy (if it is coated in enough sugar) and my dad ate, uh, well, um, . . . . male cow parts, but we never ate heart, thankfully. Is it any wonder I turned to sugar?

    Comment by Paul Reeve — March 6, 2009 @ 9:18 am

  20. Ah, how much we forget when we move from the ranch to the academy! “Male cow parts”???

    I realize that we suffer in English from the lack of a common non-sex linked word for the bovine species, but the last time I checked, cows were still female.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 6, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  21. Mark B., yes, right you are. As you can tell, I did not minor in gender studies.

    Let me correct #19 to male cattle parts, or parts from former bulls that are now steers, or Rocky Mountain Oysters, as my dad called ’em. Clear enough? Don’t make me draw a picture.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — March 6, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  22. Paul,

    The next time we run into each other at Lamb’s, I’ll ask the chef if they’ll whip up a platterful for you. Steamed, fried or broiled?

    Comment by Mark B. — March 6, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  23. Mark B.,
    Fried, of course, but only if they are from a male cow.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — March 6, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  24. I guess we successfully hide from ourselves what we’re actually doing when we eat meat, and something like this recipe brings it home again. I prefer my meat processed and pre-sliced. I’ll be even gladder when it all comes straight from the hydroponic farms. I don’t like killing cute gentle-spirited animals.

    Comment by Tatiana — March 6, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  25. I can say without equivocation that the best chicken I ever ate was from a bird I helped prepare myself while on a handcart trek. It went from clucking to plates within an hour or two.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — March 6, 2009 @ 1:51 pm