It turns out that they belong to my great grandmother, the same woman who taught my great aunt and my mother to cook, who then taught me. Looking at these worn old books was like seeing where my love of cooking came from.
The books are full of recipes that she exchanged back and forth with family. This recipe for Chili Sauce that was given to her by my great great Aunt Betty, and I can just picture her lovingly writing this in her book while thinking about when she was going to make this.
There were also lots of clippings out of newspapers with recipes and tips that she’d liked over the years. I realize that in the modern age I do that too, printing off recipes that I see online or saving them on my computer. My own little form of clip and save. However there was one page that I found that immediately had me cracking up…
It appears that she had clipped an entire section of just recipes “for The Hunter”. My grandfather never hunted and I can’t imagine my great grandmother ever making “Roast of Moose” or “Partridge Pie” in a hundred years. But then it started to get a little weirder…
“Roast Squirrel”?!?!? I would like to state for the record that no one in my family has ever eaten a squirrel and I can only imagine that she had clipped this and kept it as a joke. During my weekly phone call with my great Aunt (her daughter) I brought up the notebooks and this particular section and she started laughing. She thinks that without a doubt this was intended as a joke. Maybe my great grandmother knew that some fifty years later I would be pouring through her notebooks soaking up recipes and then come to a full stop when I see this one. From what I remember of her, she was a happy woman and I always picture her with a smile on her face. Maybe I got more of my quirky sense of humor from her than I think 🙂
There were also these old themed cookbooks that were tucked in the pile. One each for New England, French and Scandinavian dishes.
My dad has spent a great deal of time in Scandinavian countries for work, and he is not a big fan of their pickled fish and things like that. But when I started going through this book there were lots of interesting recipes that caught my eye.
Like these recipes for Swedish Gingersnaps and Berlin Wreaths. I love the little detailed drawings on the top of each page.
But I would have to say that the one that was most up my alley was the New England cookbook. It was full of classic North American recipes that had my mouth watering.
But of course my favorite section was the cakes, cookies and frostings. One look at the words “Boston Cream Pie” and I was sold.
There was even a whole section on Johnny Cakes, which if you’ve never had them, are kind of like fried cornmeal flatcakes. I love the picture of the jaunty man heading out with his “journey cakes” in a little sack. And the damsel waving goodbye with her kerchief. Can you imagine standing at the door and waving someone off like that? Oh my how the times have changed.
There is also a section in each book for cooking and baking tips, things like how to properly fill a cake pan and where to place it in the oven. Important lessons that can make or break a good cake (literally).
But the part that I immediately copied down was the oven temperatures. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to look up what the temperature is for a “slow oven”. Once I desperately needed it for a crust I was making and my internet was down so I had to call my great Aunt. I think she was quite tickled that my precious Google had failed me and that I had to go back to her “old school ways” and look it up in her cookbooks.
I loved this little flash of the past and its sparked my interest in trying some of the recipes that my great grandmother loved so much. I figure that if I’m anything like her, than the ones with the most grease spots are the ones she loved the most.