Tuesday, October 4, 2016
I keep a notebook full of recipes and memories; it's something I've been working on for awhile now. I call it my Home Food book. The old ring binder is nothing special, and I'm not precisely sure where it came from but I suspect it was a yard sale find. I printed a label for the spine and taped in nicely in place.....and then discovered that I had done so with the binder upside down. That pretty summer fruits print is directional after all. Who knew? It will be wrong-side up forever now. It makes me laugh anyway.
A few years back, when I was talking with my late aunt, I admitted that I missed my mother's corn chowder but I had no idea how to make it. She knew clearly because it was something she made, too--something my grandmother had taught all of her daughters, a simple inexpensive Depression Era dish--and so my aunt taught me, albeit over the phone because the distance between Maine and Mississippi was too great to allow me to go visit her cozy kitchen. My aunt was the last of her generation in our family. If she hadn't told me how to make corn chowder, that link to the past would have been lost.
As times change, tastes in food change. Old-time recipes become forgotten. The stuff I enjoy is often quite old-fashioned--indeed I am the only person I know who loves fruitcake! I don't mean the nasty sawdusty stuff with brightly-dyed fruit that comes from the store. I make Barm Brack--it's so good sliced thin and spread with a little cream cheese to enjoy with an afternoon cup of tea. You may find the recipe here: Barm Brack Bread.
Most of the foods I make are simple things that I enjoyed when I was growing up but the recipes are definitely in danger of fading away, and there are no family members close enough to care. I am willing to bet that I'm the only one who makes my Nana's Vinegar Candy--I'm planning to make that as cooler weather arrives, so I'll be sure to share about it when I do. And I'm quite certain that I am the only one who has the recipe for my great-grandmother Caroline's Squash Biscuits--that's why I shared the recipe here last year; I thought that surely someone else should know and enjoy the recipe that we've known and enjoyed for more than a hundred years.
And that's why I started my Home Food book, too. It's a place to record and remember. I put new ideas and new creations in there as well. And, of course, there's still a file in the back stuffed with copies of things I'd like to try (in fact, yesterday, I found something about making Brazil nut chips; interesting--gonna have to do that when the autumn nut shipments start appearing at the local grocery). I print recipes I like and will make again on various color paper and put them in plastic sleeves to protect them--the book spends any amount of time on the counter in my little kitchen, so I want to avoid splots and spills on the pages.
Maybe no one else will ever read everything it but that's okay. Home Food helps keep me connected with where I have come from and with who I am now and even with what I want to become. I will keep adding to it; it's my treasure, after all. And I'd encourage you to record your family's favorites, too, so that they continue to be enjoyed.
Life is good.
Pay attention to your roots so that roses will bloom in the years to come.
The heart of the home is still in the kitchen. Always will be.