Sunday, 12/30/2007

Cooking In The Past

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:13 PM

Mama’s recipe box
Mama’s recipe box

Kay and Ann at Maxon-Dixon Knitting are hosting the Grandma Mable Memorial Recipe Box Show & Tell Contest over on their blog. (Head over there for the whole story.)

The cool result of this contest will be a virtual recipe box, full of wonderful things to cook (and eat) from everyone who enters.

Now… one is supposed to post a picture of one’s recipe box. But my recipe box is just a black metal box made to hold index cards that I picked up at some long-ago-forgotten office supply place back in the mid-1970′s. Boring. So I dug a little further into my cupboard.

This is Mama’s recipe box.

Mama was an adequate, if rather uninspired, cook. Meat and potatoes, a green veggie and a yellow veggie. On Fridays the meat was fish, on Sundays roast beef. Mama had a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Each had been purchased for a single recipe that called for it, and then never used again. The family joke was that Bro and I learned to cook because… somebody had to.

So it’s no surprise that this box is not completely full of recipes. At least 1/3 of the cards are resolutely blank.

I have no idea how old Mama’s recipe box is. Inked into the inside of the lid is her maiden name. That dates it to pre-1941. The sticker on the front says Gold Medal Kitchen Tested Recipes. It’s safe to say that most were not tested in Mama’s kitchen. The card on the inside is signed by Betty Crocker.

kitchen tested recipes
kitchen tested recipes

This recipe comes from my Godmother, a wonderful woman who was an extremely good cook and passed several recipes along to both Mama and I. It’s a great way to use up all that extra zucchini in the summer, as even the extra-large ones will be OK.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350-F for one hour.

Grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes

While we’re showing old things from family history, this binder belonged to Grandma (Mama’s mom).

It’s a leather three-ring binder, but very few pages are actually on the binder rings. For the most part, the individual pages and recipes and clippings are just stuck willy-nilly in with no regard for type of recipe. I have no idea how she found anything in it. The gold elastic Christmas present cord is used to hold the whole thing together.

I pulled a couple of items out randomly. The ubiquitous Betty Crocker makes another appearance with a Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe and my Great Aunt Bess’ (Grandma’s sister) recipe for pickle relish has been hand written on a brittle and yellowing piece of note paper from Garrett Truck Lines (no idea why).

One of my favorite items from Grandma’s binder is a little booklet entitled Make It Right With Lard, published by the National Livestock and Meat Board. The picture on the front has the word Lard spelled via holes cut in a pie crust. It contains some nifty tips for cooking with the perfect fat, and recipes for everything from biscuits to ginger snaps. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot imagine ginger snaps made with lard.

I have no idea how old the binder is. The leather is dry and cracking in places. Many of the pages are starting to crumble. Grandma passed in 1980 at the age of 97. She was a wonderful cook and collected recipes her whole life. The binder could have been acquired at any time.

Isn’t it funny how things just skip generations? Grandma and all of my Great Aunts cooked and baked and sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and tatted and embroidered. But neither Mama nor her sister, my aunt G., were cooks. Neither could sew beyond the basics. Neither was into any sort of handcrafting. They had many other wonderful qualities and talents. But not those.



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