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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Heirloom recipes

Another Day in the Country

© Another Day in the Country

Being someone who loves to cook, I’ve always been a recipe collector. Right now, in my file drawer, there’s a whole folder brim full of ideas for something yummy to cook that I’ve torn out of magazines that I read.

“Oh, that looks good,” I say to myself, especially if my tummy is growling with hunger, and I rip out the page “for later.”

Sometimes those bright ideas get translated into actual food; sometimes they remain a happy concept to riffle through when I’m hungry and “looking for something to make.”

My daughter often says to her young son, “What are you hungry for?” when it comes time to think about making their main meal of the day. She’s a good cook, but doesn’t really like to cook. For her it’s a job and not a joy. She likes the outcome. She sets a lovely table. She displays the food in all it’s glory, artfully presented, but she’d rather be doing something else.

“That’s my girl,” I say, shaking my head.

How could she not just love the art of cooking?

Every once in awhile she still calls and says, “Mom, what all do you put in your garden pasta?” or “Remember Cherokee Casserole that you used to make? What all was in it?”

Out of conversations like these, I decided that I was going to make a cookbook on one of these Internet websites where you can create your own books.

They had a wonderful template that I could use that included pictures. Half of the fun of a good cookbook is the pictures displaying the food; that’s what gets me really jazzed about cooking. I was excited.

I dragged out my old recipe box and started going through it. Most of the food concoctions I’d long-ago memorized if they were any good at all. Enough repetition and you’ve got that recipe down!

Then I pulled the binder off the shelf where in the 1960s (yes, I said 1960s) I’d carefully clipped out all those magazine recipes that I wanted to try and glued them on blank pages in this binder. The glue was definitely not acid-free and everything was coming loose; but I still used this notebook on special occasions for things like tamales and the recipe for a real, authentic, Orange Julius.

My “Heirloom Recipe Book” was beginning to take shape. The particular program I was using allows 110 pages in a book. That seemed like a lot of pages at the beginning, but when you start considering pages for pictures and headings, I began to run out of room.

Cherokee Casserole got pulled, partly because I hadn’t made it in years. I actually entered the recipe in my book, but I needed a picture, so I was going to have to make it. When I considered what it all called for including Minute Rice, American cheese, and a can of mushroom soup, I began having doubts.

Who was going to eat this concoction? Not my sister. Not really me, either. We’ve changed our eating habits through the years. Casseroles are few and far between, so, I pulled that recipe.

In the back of my recipe book I made up a section called “Forgotten Skills,” which includes lots of details on how to make sauerkraut and instructions for brewing your own root beer.

My young cousin, Kristina, said to me, “Aren’t there more things you could put in that section?”

“Probably so,” I laughed, “but it goes beyond the realm of a cookbook.”

As I proofread my cookbook, on another day in the country, I reminisce about the folk who passed on their recipes to me. There’s Mom’s cinnamon roll dough which we also used for making kolaches that I’d always associated with my very German grandma, only to discover these rolls had a proud Bohemian origin when I moved back to Ramona.

There’s “Orvell’s Jello Ribbon” recipe that she always made for holidays and takes an age to concoct; but it’s now my tradition at Thanksgiving, too. There’s “Renie’s Crazy Cake” that I get hungry for, and even “Korean Bibimbap,” thanks to my son-in-law. It’s my heirloom cookbook melting pot for posterity!

Last modified April 13, 2017

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