February 24, 2018
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Ed Sprague’s recipes for pea soup, bug dope

By Bud Leavitt

Editor’s Note: The Best of Bud is a compilation of advice and recipes gathered by the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt who retired as the Bangor Daily News executive sports editor and outdoor editor in the fall of 1988. He continued to write a weekly column until his death on Dec. 20, 1994.


Edward (Ed) Sprague calls the Maine woods home. Give him a cabin off the pavement’s end, and Ed’ll get along like a fox in a chicken coop.

I met Ed one day at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Ed,” I began slowly, “I’m writin’ a book ’bout Maine and I’ll have a section devoted to favorite recipes. How ’bout giving me a couple of your favorites?”

“Sure, I’ll give you one that’s not an earth-shaker, but it’s handy to have around camp. It’s simple and quick to construct,” he said, “and with a batch of home-grown biscuits and vinegar pickles, boiled coffee, too, if you can afford it. It is pretty good stomach stuffing. Or you’ll survive until returning home and to a decent foddering again.”

Ed went back to his camp at Wilson’s Mills and sent me his yellow pea soup recipe.

2 cups dried whole peas (those on the shelf you bought five years ago)

1/3 pound salt pork

1 package onion soup mix

Dash of pepper

“Soak overnight, cube pork. Don’t fry! Drain peas and add new water, pork, mix and pepper. Set it working in a heavy kettle. Cook s-l-o-w-l-y. When peas have softened, allow mixture to rest and mature on the back of stove — two hours. Reheat and eat,” says Sprague.

Ed warns, however, never to add water unless you want to ruin the flavor.

Ed’s second “recipe” is for a homemade insect repellent.

“I call the stuff black fly dope. Here’s how to make a batch:

3 ounces pine tar

2 ounces olive oil

1 ounce pennyroyal

1 ounce oil of citronella

1 ounce camphor pulverized

“Heat tar, oil and other stuff. Simmer over slow fire until mixed well. Makes more than a pint.”

Ed asserts if you make his yellow pea soup and homemade black fly dope the same day, make certain that you don’t get them swapped around.

“I don’t want to be part of having some city woman coming into Maine with her husband, and in her ardor to prolong a seemingly ideal marriage, feeding him a bowl of homemade black fly dope when the poor soul was expecting to dine on my yellow pea soup. Funnier things have happened when tourists take to the woods in an attempt to emulate Thoreau.”

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