Friday, February 22, 2013
Falling apart and full of vintage charm, the happiest part of a girl's kitchen are those old cookbooks cheerfully lining a shelf.
My heart had a tiny tear inside it seeing the stack of cookbooks a girl had piled high that were to be passed along to charity. Her tiny computer, lacking any room to write notes in the margins or carry the character of a dog eared page, would sit on top of the counter blasting out directions to create supper. Realizing I might still have one foot stuck in the boot of 'things from the past' I can't help but want to hang onto my dear cookbooks.
In any small town freckling the map of our western provinces, you are sure to find a ladies club who have tirelessly hounded members of the community to put a book of recipes together. In these books you can find recipes from the grandmother, mother, and daughter, with maiden names in brackets and the food reminding you of the history of generations before us. Such common shower gifts are these cookbooks, along with the 4-H cookbook and possibly one that one of the local families have put together.
Some of my favorite books are the ones from the Grandmas or even Great Grandmas before us. With recipes that hold instructions for feeding a crowd of 100 at a fall supper or some secret nugget of wisdom on how much snow to use as replacement if you don't have the right amount of fresh eggs in store - these are a treasure. The best recipes are often found on the grimiest pages and the worst have your cousin's writing across the top saying "forget it!" in bold letters.
The only con that comes along with these kitchen bibles that make their way into our homes, wrapped in tea towels and given with love in a church basement, is the enormous amount of pressure that comes along with them. When Aunt Annie, the famed cook in the family, hands you her family recipes, you can bet she is sure to expect you to cook them - and cook them with the expertise that her hands hold. You can pray the housewife's prayer when Aunt Annie is coming for supper, because she was raised up right on the plains of Alberta. She will expect a meal that will meet the quantities of feeding fifteen after a branding, and the quality of something made for the queen. The strain of your meal will mount when you see her car pull into the drive half hour early and it looks like your kitchen has had fourteen toddlers helping out. Although tears might nearly be in your eyes by this point, I don't think any recipe found on the internet or some sort of starter mix found in Wal-Mart will ever meet the satisfaction of pulling one of those old fashioned meals together that the kin before us have chowed down at their supper tables.
So, for those of you out there who have left your cookbooks dusty on the shelf, pick one up and peruse through it. Chuckle at the tips, be grateful you aren't eating that jellied salad tonight and best of all, give one of those recipes a shot. I double dog dare ya. I'll pop over and share in your delight and we can leave the mess of our kitchens for the next day.
Tried and true, this smell greeted us so many days after trekking up the lane after school.
Banana Drop Cookies
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
sugar & cinnamon
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cream margarine, add sugar gradually, beating until light & fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternating with bananas, beating after each addition until smooth. Drop by teaspoonful on lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from pan at once. Makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen.