Recipes with a dash of family history are more tasty. They can please the palate and bring back unique memories at the same time. This could be as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich made with care by your grandpa or time-consuming canned goods of Aunt Minnie’s that are yummy in the winter months. Passing these recipes down adds so much to the flavors.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been reminded of what’s included in this tradition. At our family reunion in August a cousin’s homemade salsa with the recipe attached started a friendly bidding war. Another cousin won that item for his mother, Aunt Peg, and she used it to can salsa with her neighbor’s homegrown tomatoes. We are enjoying the salsa and the fact that it has that special family touch. Then Krissy kicked off the NFL season a couple of weeks ago by making the old recipe of cocktail meatballs that we always prepared at family holidays. You know, the one with chili sauce and grape jelly. Talking to me before the game she said: “Mom, it smells like Christmas in my apartment.”
Then, there was a recent occasion when Jerry and I took another short trip to south side Indianapolis. We were sitting around the kitchen table at my Aunt Peg’s with my cousin Marilyn having a great conversation. Peg was telling us about slicing cucumbers to make homemade pickles. We started picking her brain about the recipes she used for her canning this summer and her favorites for potato salad, etc. She grabbed her recipe card box and began relating to a few that were passed along by family and friends. By the time Marilyn mentioned an idea she had to put together a collection for her daughters and grandchildren, the ideas were running through my head for our next project. I would scan Peg’s trusted old recipes and add others from the family so that we could all savor them.
I had the opportunity to setup my scanner and computer on that kitchen table last week. What fun! Aunt Peg added tidbits of memories and people surrounding the recipes as we sorted and scanned. I gathered the tested lists of ingredients and her personal experiences with them. Her comments were the icing on the cake.
The plan is to see how many more “historical” recipes we can gather, saving some memories too. Of course, this isn’t a new idea. Many of us have those cookbooks from fund raisers and they have very good contents. But, there isn’t one from my family, yet……
Right now, however, I wanted to share a couple of those recipe recollections that came from Aunt Peg’s memory bank. The first recipe I’ll post is the best kind ever -- in her own handwriting on a small piece of paper with a story of how and why it’s special. Peg says she really doesn’t like hushpuppies. But, her brother-in-law, Richard Stull’s hushpuppies were always the exception for her. “He was a great fisherman. Whenever he and his friend had a good day fishing he would fry up his hushpuppies with the fresh fish. I loved his because they had lots of onions.” This is one that has a time-tested, irreplaceable ingredient as well. Read the last line on the recipe to the right to see what I mean.
I could go on and on with potato pancakes, hot peppers, spaghetti and meatballs, German potato salad, bread and butter pickles, dumplings, etc., etc. But for now, I’ve chosen to include the St. Jude Biscuit Recipe. The story behind this one is that Aunt Peg used to work at the cafeteria at St. Jude’s, her parish school that’s about two blocks away from her home. She liked those biscuits so much that she has used the recipe in her own family cooking for years. But, notice the size when this one is assembled in its full portion. On the back of the card it says: 1 gallon, 1 1/4 qts. Can you see the ladies in the school cafeteria sifting the 16 cups of flour and dry ingredients five times and cutting in the shortening to make 100 biscuits. Then they would cut them out individually. We don’t know how many times they duplicated these ingredients for one lunch either. Wow, the love that went into cooking for those grade-schoolers!
Hope I’ve made you think of a few family stories that go with something you ate for years. I would love to hear your best recipe and its story. In fact, we are on the hunt for a “Yeast Coffee Cake” recipe that was in the family many years ago that is lost now. This was melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious. Anyone know one???
Well, my mouth is watering. It’s time to see what special recipe Jerry’s cooking for dinner.
Thanks for stopping by at Hurley Travels. Talk to you later.