I borrowed my grandmothers and great aunts recipe collections from my mom over the holidays. I love how these two collections are in tact and in the hand of two sisters and how each must somehow be representative of them as women, cooks and part of my family.
Shirley is my grandmother. Her book is a black leather bound notebook that measures 3.5 by 6 inches. It is a bound book that is full of handwritten recipes, taped on clippings from newspapers, and brimming with other clippings and cards from here and there, kind of leafed in between the bound pages, much like you would press your favorite flowers or leaves in between the pages of a thick book. My mother said that she remembered her mother using this book and referring to it regularly. What is interesting to me – is how one would approach organizing something like this. Since the book is bound, the pages cannot be re-arranged and what you include on day one, stays. I am sure I will learn more as I study this, but I love how what would for me be too restrictive of a format – must have worked for this busy woman of the mid-western farm. The inside cover is a formula for window washing solution with a reference date of 1984 (San Francisco) and what I would consider the first recipe entry on the inside page was for Strawberry Ice Cream “Made at Nellie’s House on June 12, 1937 – VERY GOOD.” She further notes that Wilma married in June 1937. Fascinating.
Nellie is my great aunt. Her collection is housed in a neat red tin box with an image of a happy fat chef that looks as if he just kissed his fingers with approval and shouted “Perfecto”. The box is filled with recipe cards, pasted clippings all neatly tucked in sections like breads, cakes, canning, frozen desserts, vegetables, and preserves. The first recipe is for fudge cake and the last is for celery seed dressing. With a full 50 percent of the collection dedicated to CAKE!
My first foray into these two collections was Apricot Bread. Chase and Rebecca helped and we had quite a nice time pulling together a fairly standard nut bread, not unlike the cranberry nut bread that I often make around the holidays.
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 cup sugar
2 sticks melted butter
2 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup orange juice strained
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 cup chopped nuts
Soak apricots for half an hour. grind. beat egg, stir in sugar. add melted butter. sift dry ingredients. add alternating with egg. mix. + orange juice and water. add nuts and apricots mix well. Bake at 350. 1 1/2 hours in loaf pan.
I mostly followed this recipe, but would say that it could use a bit more liquid. I was not sure if it really called for 2 sticks of butter, but it seemed reasonable. I choose also to use 4 mini loaf pans and this was just right. Made for great to go breakfast.
I hope to share more of these recipes and stories that I uncover as I work my way through these collections this year.