Friday, February 22, 2013

Cookbook Cookin'


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
2 eggs 
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. 


22 comments:

Jamie said...

I have a handful of cook books I adore - I was thinking the other day does Linden have a cook book??? Nice to see a post! Hope all is well!!!

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

I have always loved to look at cookbooks! I can just sit there with a cup of coffee and look at recipes and pictures...

Karen said...

My favoritest book in the house is my grandmothers old cookbook, which she wrote all over and left recipes written on envelopes and napkins, etc... tucked inside.

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm guilty of finding pretty-looking recipes on Pinterest and trying them out, AND I admit that I have had some successes. But like you, I have my church cookbooks and ladies club cookbooks too, and I do use them. Just for fun, I'll give you the name of one of my favorite recipes from the Buffalo Parish Cookbook. It's called Grace Albertson's Lazy Pig. I am guessing the reason why it's called that because it's a casserole that might be considered a shortcut for cabbage rolls -- cabbage, ground beef, onion, rice, tomato soup, S&P. Simple ingredients, easy to make, and GOOD!

What a great post this is, and I think I'd love to try those banana cookies. If I make them, I'll have to give them away to the grandkids. (I'm still sort of on a diet)

~Jody

Lindsay(PACountryCrafts) said...

Actually, I have two that are in the donation box waiting to got right now, but they are the ones I bought for my slow cooker. I do love the old church cookbooks and won't part with those! It is nice to see recipes of family and friends in those, and sometimes it is easier to grab a cookbook off of the shelf to look for one of my own I have submitted than to dig through the recipe box. :)

Lindsay(PACountryCrafts) said...

Those cookies sound wonderful- I will have to grab a few bunches of bananas and hope that a few escape the kids.

Alicia said...

I have a love of old cookbooks too. And when my Grandmother was in her last days a dear friend of mine found a card with a recipe scrawled in her memorable handwriting. She had shared it at my friends mom's bridal shower over 35 years ago. I've inherited her deep love as a collector of small things. Especially tried & true recipes.

Crystal said...

I too love cookbooks, especially the ones with the writing in the side columns. Some of those old cookbooks have recipes that sound so good but always makes me laugh when they say cook in hot oven till done! Is that like 30 minutes or 3 hours...always a challenge :)

I may have to try those cookies, they sound real good.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Cheyenne! I love those old church cookbooks. My mom gave me an old Searchlight cookbook and it has such interesting recipes in it! I also found my great granny's ginger cookie recipe. I might make some tomorrow.

Elizabeth Martin said...

What a great post!!! I love cookbooks - I have a whole bookshelf devoted to them. My favorite one is of mothers - a handwritten journal with recipes she wrote down and ones clipped out of magazines. I recently copied it and will make another for my sister who is getting married.

Grandma K said...

I was interested to see the familiar 4-H coil back cook book along with the green Christian Home Cook Book. Mine is 40 years old and came with asterisks on certain recipes, marked by Susan Toews!

I have a Blue Ribbon cookbook that belonged to my Mom. Why did she write "Emrod" inside the front cover?
But in the back are recorded the recipes for boiled raisin cake (a favourite around here!), christmas cookies, date loaf, orange cake (a favourite of mine!), Dad's cookies and then an unnamed recipe that says "Mrs. Swanson" at the end! This delightful book is full of tips such as using the coal or wood stove, "General Rules for the Care of Milk in the Home", how to cook calf's heart, buffalo, stewed kidneys..... You get the picture!
And yes, there are many stains and splatters on some pages (not the "Internal Organs" pages).
I used to collect recipe books but have traded that for collecting quilting books!
Thanks for the post! I delighted in re-visiting Mom's cookbook!

jenn baerg jantz said...

I love my cookbooks. And yes the best ones are ones that have hand written notes from my friends, mum and sisters.... James laughs and tells people I'd sooner take my "gooseberry patch books" to bed then a novel!!!:) sometimes true !!!!

Nell said...

I wouldn't part with my collection of old cookbooks for anything. The recipes from my grandmothers and great grandmothers often listed ingredients but assumed you could figure it out from there. The ones from my mom would say " add a little of____ (fill in the blank) until it looks right". This drove me crazy as a new bride trying to replicate the recipes of a legendary family cooks, but I eventually got it right.

quintuplicatemom said...

You should see my recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake; it's totally splattered with chocolate cake dough.
I purged my cookbook stash until I love the ones I have. A fine post, thank you!

Barbara Jean said...

Enjoy your post so much. It actually brought tears to my eyes... I have so many old cookbooks that were my beloved mother's (Ma). Since her passing whenever I thumb through one these books, looking for a recipe, and I see her oh-so-familiar handwriting; my heart feels too big in my chest. So very, very glad to have these treasures.

fernvalley01 said...

I will always keep my cook books, especially the one I received as a girl of about 14 with blank pages to fill in all the special heirloom recipes from mom, and grandma, Aunts and ...

Tori said...

I love this! I love so much how you are good at slowing down and thinking of the little, simple, meaningful things. I pin dishes on Pinterest that I'll never even look up again, let alone make. It's always the trusty, family favorites that we enjoy.

Anonymous said...

You made my day Chy! ...jellied salad. LOL!! with grated carrots in it! havent seen you for ages...we need to get together again sometime. sheila

Angie Berry said...

So much truth here! I have quite a collection of those local cookbooks although I have never cooked anything from them, I do like to look through them occasionally... especially the family ones.

Rachel said...

Cookbooks rock! I love all the recipes my mom and grandmother gave me, plus those that aunts have written to share, and friends! I love trying new recipes, but we do have our favorite meals!

Libbie Doyle said...

I read this awhile ago & totally agree...those old cookbooks :) But I wanted to read it again because I miss ya :) & then I saw I never even left a comment in the first place :) Hope you are enjoying each day!

Amanda Haney said...

I'm definitely going to have to try those cookies!!!

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