Challenges and changes

One more thing to add to 25 Recipes list: I want to make sourdough. I’ve already started a batch of starter on my kitchen counter, and will post on that later. I found all kinds of fascinating sourdough recipes over break, including sourdough pancakes (and waffles, if you’re into that sort of thing).

We’re home again from our holiday travel extravaganza – we had a perfectly lovely break, wonderful time with family and friends (and a new baby who looks just like his dad!), nice easy travels, and two dogs who behaved like angels (most of the time, anyway). I’m really, really, really tired of the bad news we keep getting about friends and family (mostly friends and co-workers, actually – thankfully our families are safe and healthy right now). I’m not sure I can handle much more bad news, and 2011 is already off to a not-s0-great (read: pretty damn terrible) start. But I’m hoping things will steadily improve from here, and that we’ll find (or be given) the strength to deal with each of these things as they come, as well as whatever else is headed our way.

So as a useful distraction, I present my second challenge for the year: Grandma A’s recipe box.

Some background: Greg’s grandfather died almost two years ago (it will be two years in March, I think – someone correct me if I’m wrong), and his grandmother died just about a year later this past spring. They were the last of our grandparents, and so we’re now facing the rest of our adulthood with no grandparents, just memories. When we were home for Christmas just now, we packed up a few things to bring back with us, things we had asked to be saved for us as Greg’s parents were cleaning out the house to sell.

We inherited Grandma and Grandpa A’s hymnal collection, some kitchen tools and implements, some garage-type man tools, lots of books, an American flag, a lot of the silver (which is still at home right now, since we didn’t have space for it in the car), and Grandma A’s four recipe boxes. It should come as no surprise that I cherish these.

Florence was a minister’s wife, as well as a teacher. Many of the recipes are written by hand, some by Grandma A and some by Grandpa A, some are even laminated handwritten recipes from her mother, dated in the 1930s, some are typewritten notes from parishioners, some are clippings from magazines, grocery stores, and newspapers. Some of the cards have general guidelines (How to Lower Cholesterol, How to Eat a Low Fat Diet, How to Boil an Egg), or household hints (Uses for Rubbing Alcohol). One is even written on the back of a very special letter.

There are tons of dessert recipes for things that include jello, Cool Whip, and cake mixes, and a shocking number of punch recipes (which makes sense, when you think about the church parties she would have hosted). There’s a surprising number of Moroccan (or Moroccan-inspired) dishes, but not many other ethnic groups. You can tell that as the recipes get younger in years (and therefore the grandparents got older), there was concern about diet, cholesterol, saturated fat, etc.

So my goal is to cook one of Florence’s recipes each week. I’ve gone through all four boxes, and pulled out the most likely candidates. A couple of notes:

We try very hard (but not obsessively) to eat locally, in season, and to use as little processed food as possible. That could be a challenge with some of these recipes, and it won’t be difficult at all with some of the other recipes. Some of these are things we might normally choose to eat, and some of them are way, way out of our normal comfort zone. (Wait until you see the Apple salad recipe that starts by dissolving red hot cinnamon candies in hot water….)

I’m going to try to be as faithful to the recipes as I can; I may make some adjustments based on availability, our tastes, my cooking instincts, etc. But not as many adjustments as I normally make when cooking from recipes.

We are doing this with all love and respect for Greg’s grandparents, who were wonderful and caring people who bent over backward to make me feel welcome and accepted in this family (as, of course, did everyone else). I want to understand them better through their food and history. We may occasionally poke gentle fun at something we find or try, but it’s all in the spirit of discovery and experimentation.

So we’re off! Let’s see where this little challenge might take us.

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6 Responses to Challenges and changes

  1. Renee says:

    Very cool! Will be interested to see how it goes – especially the cinnamon apple salad with the candies 🙂

  2. Pingback: Global Spices | One Hour of Home

  3. Mark says:

    That is about the best Christmas present you could give me, along with the ones you physically gave me. I get misty just thinking about it.

  4. wellmet says:

    It means a lot to me, too, Mark. What a fun way to discover some family history (and seriously, wait until you see some of these – they’re amazing).

  5. Pingback: Grandma A: Spicy Chicken in Sauce Over Rice | One Hour of Home

  6. Pingback: Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Cheese Puffs | One Hour of Home

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