It might be because of the weather, which (between the blizzard and recent thunderstorms) has been a real downer around DC...or it might be because I've been preoccupied with family health issues (good and bad) recently.... Probably, a combination of the two has led me to a reminiscing mood. On this rainy, throwback sort of day, I decided to dig up old family recipes for a comfort food--specific walk down memory lane.
My family has plenty of talented cooks and bakers on both sides, so I am overflowing with old cookbooks, scraps of paper, and recipe cards. I just love these cards and their pictures , the individual's handwriting, all of the old stains from overuse.
A lot of these cards---with holly berries pictures from Christmas recipe exchanges and strawberry decorations to match a kitchen decor---are from my mom's collection, and I remember wading through her recipe boxes and books regularly on weekends. My mom's approach to classifying recipe cards appeared to be "good," "very good," "****," or, often, just repeating the recipe on multiple cards for her very favorites. My cards from her collection focus heavily on dinners, with some feed-a-crowd desserts thrown in for cookouts and holidays.
I think these old recipe cards and notebooks show insight about the cook, too, and about their circumstances. So many people work in the kitchen for necessity only, not because they gravitate their for fun or in free time. In my own family, I see evidence of both from my dusty recipe collection.
Looking at my grandma's notes from the 1930s and 40s, for example, I see economical recipes, notes on substitutions and cooking times, pasted-in ideas, and other indicators of function over fun. But some marked favorites, like her lemon pie cake or jelly rolls, definitely show off her ability to get creative or splurge a little.
On the other side, my Italian grandmother was (and still is) an amazing cook and even better scratch baker. She was a mom during an era when women's places were in the kitchen, feeding a family, and her Italian dinners do that awfully well. But her expertise at things like chiffon 7-layer cakes and ultra-gooey cinnamon rolls shows that she was in the kitchen when she had time on her hands, too. It's impossible to forget all of the tins and jars of cookie she had ready for us grandkids or what I learned from her in the kitchen.
My dad carried on the Italian tradition of cookies, cavatelli, and pies for special days, more than for every day. I love finding a recipe he copied in my pile, because I know that it came from our family's history, even if it's not a treat that's familiar to me.
On my mom's side, my cousin has a cookie- and candy-baking talent, which beats any others' in our generation, that she pulls out for holidays, too. Even though I have old copies of those family recipes, I remain the historian and leave the baking to her as the expert! My brother and I both ended up being the spouse in the kitchen in our own young families, which right now means cooking new and standard dinner recipes most nights and squeezing in some fun baking when we can. One day, we'll add to these recipe cards and pass them along, I hope.
Sharing recipes today relies so much on email, blogs, and search engines; all of these are invaluable, and cloud backups are essential now for preserving these papers from the past, but I have such a fondness for handwritten recipes. I can almost smell the old kitchens when I pull out one of these cards. Sometimes, just reading the recipe evokes comfy remembrances of childhood, like a holiday with my mom's wedding soup on the stove.
But some remind you that even baking has its fads (lime jello Cool Whip fluff, anyone?!).
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy