Monday, 8 September 2014

Cooking up a Storm

My maternal grandparents usually came to our house for stay-over visits, but every New Year's Day and a couple of other times a year for special occasions we would go to their middle cold-flat in Verdun, Quebec. My grandmother didn't cook.  She only made desserts. Usually something with whipped cream, as that was our favourite, and Dad and I would fight over the bowl. But for meals my grandfather did all the cooking and as most people did in those days... heavy on the meat and potatoes.  Which is probably why I am a carnivore. When I was first married I would call Grampa sometimes to find out how he cooked a certain dish.  It made him feel happy to be helping me, and I loved talking to him. Sometimes when the girls were little he would call me and ask what I was making for supper. He wanted to make sure I was making "healthy" meals for the kids. One time I told him I was making Lasagna. "Lasagna???" He bellowed! We never had pasta of any sort at Grampa's house. "I'll call you back".  I guess it took him a while to look it up (no internet you know), because it was almost an hour before he called. "There's some pretty good stuff in there!" Grampa wasn't big on greetings. "Yes, and I put ham in mine." I replied. "And spinach. The kids call it grass." It took him a minute to digest this (pun hahaha). "Well, alright then" he said, and hung up.

New Year's dinner at Grampa's... I'm on the right and Great Granny King is mid-front.

My Mom is one of "those" cooks that can make something out of nothing, and rarely needs a recipe.  She learned from Grampa. She did have a few recipe books, but she would find a dish she thought sounded good, then say.. well I don't have that but this will do, and this will taste better than that, and so on until she had a completely different recipe.  She would never write it down, so it was different every time.  My mom used to love giving dinner parties for a few close friends, but it was also nothing for her to cook for 200 people in her community. Mom is 89 now and would rather go to Burger Bob's than cook for herself. They make good rotisserie chicken.

I, on the other hand have always needed a recipe, and have to follow it pretty closely. I guess that's the OCD in me. I am getting a bit more adventurous with age. Among my Mom's recipe book collection was my grandmother's unused 1913 Five Roses Cook Book, and a newer more up-to-date one (1938) that I used quite a bit when I was learning to cook (my grandfather's sister worked at the Lake of the Woods Milling Company, who made Five Roses Flour). I like the first one, but they say things like "butter the size of a walnut" and those measurements are not precise enough for me. In the 60's I sent away for my own, and you can see I use mine a lot, for most everything! This issue has Foreign Fare and Wild Game.

When my girls started to leave home, I got four cheap little recipe books about the size of a recipe card, and for each daughter wrote out the recipes for their favourite dishes, and put them in their Christmas stocking.

One recipe that is being handed down in our family is my Mom's recipe for pie crust. Every year Mom won 1st prize in the Apple Pie Contest at the town Apple Festival. One year Dad was entrusted with the task of getting the pies out of the oven and taking the best looking one to enter in the contest.  They both looked good to him, so he entered them both.  Mom won 1st and 2nd prize that year. But we needed one for dessert as we had company for dinner, so he had to buy one back at the auction they hold after the judging. Dad waited till dessert time to tell everyone the story of the pie.  What everyone wanted to know was.... is this the 1st or 2nd prize pie?? Another of Mom's famous recipes using that pie crust, and my personal favourite, are her absolutely scrumptious butter tarts, and I like them best a little overdone!  

Do you have favourite recipes or recipe books handed down from your ancestors? 

Church, club, school and community groups often made cook books as a fund raiser, and in many of them the person's name follows her recipe.  I have listed a few below - some with names, and some just because they are interesting. You may find other local club or church recipe books at the library.

Relevant links:

The New Memphremagog Cook Book 1907 

Cobalt Souvenir and Cook Book (Ontario) 1909 

The Cobourg Congregational cookbook, Ont 1909

Centenary cookbook, Methodists Salem, NC 1968

The parish Cook Book 1901 - St Agnes Guild, Church of the Redeemer, Sayre, PA

Central Congregational Church cook book, Topeka, Kansas - 1913

California Street M.E. Church cook book 1911 (SF)

Harvest Festival Cook Book 1905 - Fall River, Mass

The Peerless cook book, Ladies of St James Methodist Church, Montreal 1888

Epworth League cook book (young Methodists) 1899 - Ontario

King's Daughters Cook Book - Newport, NH 1903

The Refugees' cook book - for those that lost theirs in the San Francisco Earthquake 1906

George Street United Church - Favourite Newfoundland Recipes 1956-57

The Pet Cook Book (Mass) 1878

High River (AB) Cookbook - Chalmer's Church Ladies Aid 1907

Daughters of the Allies Friday Unit, Calgary AB 1918

Riverside Recipe Book, NY 1890

Allied Cookery, British, French Italian, Belgian, Russian - 1916

Paper-Bag Cookery: with nearly 200 recipes - London 1911

Pot-Luck: The British home cookery book; over 1000 recipes from old family ms books

Menus made easy: how to order dinner and give the dishes their French names - 1913 

Mrs. Maclurcan's cookery book: practical recipes specially suitable for Australia - 1899

The Canadian Economist - a book of tried and tested recipes - Ontario  1881

Lake of the Woods Museum

Lake of the Woods Milling Company Limited Roll of Honor

1 comment:

  1. I share these memories with you. I have the the older and newer versions of the cookbook and I cherish the memories they bring me every time I use it. The gravy making recipe is still in use today as it was in my Grandmothers time. She was born in 1892. Thanks for reviving the memory. :)


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