Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recipe Scrapbooking

2x Great-Grandma Emma's recipes.
While I was in college, and trying to learn to cook for myself, I started collecting recipes from my friends and family, ones they had prepared and used many times, so I could get tips they don’t tell you in a form recipe. As someone who was least comfortable in the kitchen, things that were common sense to others were not for me.
So I asked for recipes that they enjoyed making and eating, not necessarily ones that were made-from-scratch or fancy. And the project got bigger. My folder started to fill with recipes that reminded me of people and places from my past.
One of the first recipes I collected was the cut-out cookie recipe we used at holiday time. Along with the recipe came the memories I have of decorating the iced cookies on our table. For every ten cookies everyone else frosted, I would do one, so slowly, to give the Santa cookie a red suit and green bag and belt, my tongue sticking out of my mouth in concentration.
I have a good recipe for pork chops with stuffing and apple slices- cooked in the same pan (oh the horror for me then!). It was a dinner my sister-in-law made, one of those first grown-up moments I had where someone cooked a meal especially for the occasion of my visit. I quickly got over my no-food-touching rule because everything was touching and everything was delicious!
One of the things I remember about dinners at my grandma’s house was the casserole she always made. We loved it. When I first started cooking, it was a list of ingredients I could handle. Frozen hashbrowns, cornflakes, and cream of chicken soup, along with a few others.
One of my more recent acquisitions is a delicious recipe for a spinach and tortellini soup from my best friend. He made a big dinner for us, including mustard salmon and mock potatoes, which were really good. It was part of a holiday gift in a rare chance to spend the holidays together.
Another favorite that I make all the time is the tofu, lettuce, and tomato sub roll. It tastes like everything that is good about bacon. It came to me from a beloved friend, a part of our UU congregation before we moved away. It was a dish she brought to every one of our pot lucks, and I regret every dinner that passed by without me trying it.
In my mom’s recipe box, I uncovered a card for swiss steak, written out in my great-grandma’s handwriting. It prompted a conversation with my parents about her swiss steak, my dad raving about it. And then we talked about her again.
Another recipe makes me laugh every time I make it, the sausage gravy recipe I have from college. My other kitchen-challenged housemate had some fresh sausage and we were inspired to make dinner together. But first, we had to call my mom for directions. A moment of gratitude for that phone plan that allowed me to call them for free whenever I wanted to (I think it was some 800 number).
I have a chicken cordon blue recipe from a friend who came over and taught me how to make it while we waited for the results of a presidential election. I even kept the sour cream coffee cake recipe that I learned to make in eight grade home economics. It was the first thing I baked that came out perfectly.
One Yule, when we were snowed in from our community gathering, we held an impromptu one in our apartment for those few within walking distance. My good friend brought this delicious stuffed apple recipe with oatmeal and dark chocolate. Every time I make that dessert, I think about snow drifts and candlelight, about friendship and laughter.
There’s a pear and walnut salad, made by a professor friend of ours for one of my first adult fancy-dinner invitations. The instructions for the best bacon-wrapped scallops in the world, using horseradish, include memories of weekends spent with an old and beloved friend. And I have a recipe for ambrosia salad, a cold dish with fruit, pasta, and marshmallows. It was one of the first things I ever made on my own, taught to me by a friend’s mom in middle school, and my preferred dish to bring to pot lucks for many years.
Best of all, is the trove of recipes discovered in a water-damaged tote, some of them dating to the turn of the century (1900, not 2000). They were hand-written by my 2x Great-Grandma Emma, who lived in Lockport NY, and some by her daughter, my Great-Grandma Minnie. The earliest recipes are for chicken croquettes, Danish and suet pudding, cabbage salad, sour apple cake, catsup, canned beets, curing pork in a barrel, marmalade, and pickles.

I enjoy receiving recipes, and will often request specific ones that remind me of special occasions. And then comes the fun of trying them out, and sharing in a taste of that moment of friendship. The bits of my friends and loved ones in my recipe scrapbook also serves as a timeline of my life, and all the love that has rolled through it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.