Get a taste of the land of adobe

Get a taste of the land of adobe

Woody Guthrie’s only novel, “House of Earth,” is finally out in paperback 65 years after its penning thanks to Johnny Depp’s publishing company at Random House, Infinitum Nihil.

Guthrie’s typescript was rediscovered when the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa began assembling its Woody Guthrie collection in conjunction with the Woody Guthrie Center located on the Guthrie Green in Tulsa. TU had purchased the typed version in the late ’70s from the estate of Irving Lerner, famed Hollywood producer to whom Guthrie had sent the novel, hoping to have it made into a movie. But the proverbial roll in the hay scenes prevented the novel from being public material either in print or in film until Depp and historian Douglas Brinkley took on the project.

“House of Earth” centers on Texas panhandle farmers, Tike and Ella May Hamlin, who live in a farm shack during the Dust Bowl. They yearn for a sturdy house in which to raise their family, a house that will be impervious to the ever present dust and other natural elements that make life hard. Finding a government pamphlet about how to build a cheap adobe house, the couple begins obsessing over, dreaming about and longing to build such a house made of the very earth itself. Unfortunately, the land the Hamlins live on is not theirs, and like so many other stories from the Great Depression, their dreams are stalled by ranching conglomerates and big bankers.

“House of Earth” is at once an artifact of a by gone era and a paean to the perennial conditions of man illustrated in our day by the works of Bob Dylan, whose early music was deeply influenced by Woody Guthrie, or Edward Abbey (“The Monkey Wrench Gang”), who left home at 17 to find the America he had heard about in Guthrie’s songs. The themes of mounting debt, ecological devastation and affordable housing for the poor make this novel germane for our time. This Thanksgiving, let’s be mindful of conserving our resources as conscious stewards, so that this remains a land of plenty for you and me and all our progeny. Like Guthrie, let’s be hope brokers for the future.

Try one or two of these Western takes on traditional Thanksgiving dishes from the land of adobes.

RED CHILE12 ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons mild flavored honey

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon ground dried red chile

2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

Combine cranberries, sugar, honey, and water in small baking dish and cover. Bake 50 minutes. Uncover, stir to melt undissolved sugar, and return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes more. Cranberries are ready when soft, with a syrupy sauce. Remove from oven and cheap jerseys immediately stir in orange liqueur or squeeze a little juice from a fresh orange over the top. Let sauce cool to room temperature. Chill if not using immediately. If sauce thickens too much to spoon easily, stir in a bit of water before serving. Place in slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Surround with potatoes and carrots. Place onions on top and cover with green chilies. Cook on low for 10 hours. Use leftovers in Turkey Tortilla Soup.