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Family recipes


ElainaA
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I thought of this topic last night when, hit by a dinner crisis, I started preparing "my mother's pork chops" -pork chops (or chicken pieces) cooked in a thick tomato sauce with lots of onions and thyme - a dish I ate so often as a child and have cooked so often as an adult that I don't need to think. It got me thinking about the recipes that get passed down through families. 

 

Besides the pork chops/chicken recipe, for me there is a meat and vegetable soup - soup bones, potatoes, carrots, celery,onion and lima beans, a very simple, no-fail sponge cake and, the one that all my siblings and most of my nieces and nephews make, English muffins. None of these are fancy nor are they unusual. But making any of them gives me a strong sense of the extended family that I am part of. 

 

I'd love to know about the recipes that awakens that sense of home and family for others here............

 

(I looked to see if I could find an earlier thread on this topic - couldn't find anything.)

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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This will be a great thread. I love family recipes -- my own, or other people's!

 

For me, the quintessential family recipe is the single dish that was always on EVERY Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday table I can remember, both at my parents' house and at mine -- Cranberry Salad.  We used to grind the fruit in the sausage grinder, back before the days of food processors; my Kitchenaid makes much shorter and easier work of it. It is:

 

1 pound cranberries, washed

1 red apple, cored but unpeeled (I use Fuji or Arkansas Black)

1 green apple, cored but unpeeled (I use Granny Smith)

Sections and zest of 1 large orange

1 cup pecans

1 small package raspberry Jello

1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar

1 cup hot water

 

Chop all the fruit and the nuts; puree the orange sections. Mix all well in a big bowl. Heat the water and dissolve the sugar; remove from heat and whisk in Jello. Pour over fruit and gently stir again.

 

This is NOT a congealed salad; the Jello makes a sort of syrupy dressing for the chopped fruit. I love this stuff, and always double the recipe.

 

Also on the holiday table, without fail, are a sweet potato casserole (brown sugar pecan topping; no marshmallows!), green beans, and yeast rolls. Other dishes rotate in and out.

 

My kids have different dishes they always want me to make when they're here. For one, it's red beans and rice; for another, it's zucchini fritters; for the third one, it's pot roast. I guess those are favorite family recipes for the next generation.

 

Anxious to see how this thread develops, and to hear everyone else's family recipes!

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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love the thread so far...my mother is a very good cook but she won't trust herself to work without a safety net (ie, recipe) and feels that its boring to repeat dishes. Although I'm pretty sure she did so when we were kids (weeknight dinners I do remember some regular dishes in rotation). So I have no "written gem" to share, but I do enjoy thinking about some of those dishes from tables past.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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My Mom never really liked to cook but she was famous for one dish, German potato salad. Hers was unlike any other that I've tried in the fact that it is not sweet. Every other time I've had it, the dressing was sweet and syrupy. We had it twice a year, Christmas Eve and Fourth of July. Oddly, the menu was the same for each. Barbecued brisket, GPS, barbecued beans, and relishes. Christmas Eve had way more sweets. I think these two holidays  were the only times we ever had an onion in the house. It was treated with great reverence. Only my Dad was allowed to dice it. It was the only kitchen job he ever had.  

 

5lbs Potatoes

1 Dozen Eggs 

1 Lb Bacon

1 Onion

2/3 cup (I'm guessing) Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Boil potatoes and eggs, peel and dice into large pieces. Dice the bacon and fry until crisp, add diced onion and cook till translucent. Add vinegar and a bunch of salt and pepper. 

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That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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Mom and dad were old school. Mom did house work, dad worked and took care of the lawn and trash. Kind of shocking that he even cut the onion. Mom was probably afraid of the (woefully dull) knife. 

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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My cousins got together and made a family recipes cookbook that has many of the dishes I remember from being a kid at different family get togethers.  They also asked contributors to give a story to go with the recipe.  It is a real treasure and I refer to it many times -- special favorites are Nora's white cake with broiled frosting (perfect for pot luck suppers), Aunt Molly's oatmeal cookies, and my mom's thick lentil soup with ham.  

 

When our son got his first apartment, I made him a little book of recipes for his favorite "mom" foods.  He did pretty well with most of them...and now his girlfriend is using some of those recipes, so that feels pretty nice. :)

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As I've mentioned here before, my mother was an awful cook. A refugee from France, she was brought up in wartime England during rationing. Food was too scarce to allow her to learn. Mistakes were too costly.

 

She did however have one specialty which she resurrected every festive occasion. She called it "Polish Salad". I don't know. Her elder sister had married a Polish airman and she claimed to have learned the recipe from him. I did question him later, but he denied all knowledge. Quite sensible in the circumstances.

 

It consisted of diced raw vegetables - onions, carrots etc and chopped hard boiled eggs. Two essentials were diced apple and bottled pickled beetroot. I forget what else. This was dressed with a 50:50 mix of Heinz tomato ketchup and that traditional Polish delicacy, HP Sauce. If still too dry, some of the beetroot pickling vinegar went in too.

 

A bizarre recipe.

 

But you know what? It was delicious.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Love threads like this!  I make a vegetable soup that goes back at least to the 1930's.  My mother remembers her grandmother making it.  Everyone in the family makes it.  Nothing special - carrots, potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes, etc.  Everyone has their own spin - some use vegetable broth, others chicken stock.  But it ALWAYS has chopped cabbage and broken spaghetti noodles.  The family origin is Italian - great-greats came to the US as adults - and one day when I was adding my own little fillip - Parmesan cheese - it occurred to me that it is perhaps some race memory of minestrone.  Completely bastardized, of course.  

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When our son got his first apartment, I made him a little book of recipes for his favorite "mom" foods.  He did pretty well with most of them...and now his girlfriend is using some of those recipes, so that feels pretty nice. :)

I did the same for my daughter. However the recpies that she wanted - that for her are "home" - are not the ones that I think of that way. She had no interest in my mom's soup or pork chops (although she did want - and makes- the English muffins). She wanted my lentil soup recipe, oven roasted broccoli, and oatmeal bread. The definiton of 'family recipes' changes with each generation, I guess.

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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My Mom never really liked to cook but she was famous for one dish, German potato salad. Hers was unlike any other that I've tried in the fact that it is not sweet. Every other time I've had it, the dressing was sweet and syrupy. We had it twice a year, Christmas Eve and Fourth of July. Oddly, the menu was the same for each. Barbecued brisket, GPS, barbecued beans, and relishes. Christmas Eve had way more sweets. I think these two holidays  were the only times we ever had an onion in the house. It was treated with great reverence. Only my Dad was allowed to dice it. It was the only kitchen job he ever had.  

 

5lbs Potatoes

1 Dozen Eggs 

1 Lb Bacon

1 Onion

2/3 cup (I'm guessing) Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Boil potatoes and eggs, peel and dice into large pieces. Dice the bacon and fry until crisp, add diced onion and cook till translucent. Add vinegar and a bunch of salt and pepper. 

 

 

My mom also didn't like to cook.  But this was the 50's and that's what wives did.  I've mentioned it before in various "memory" threads here, but your mom's potato salad prompted me to mention my mom's potato salad recipe again:  Get out your Revere Ware saucepan and make some instant mashed potatoes.  While still warm (because you're running late and have a big hungry family already waiting at the table), stir in some mayonnaise, three chopped hard-boiled eggs,  a handful of chopped onions, and a generous spoonful of pickle relish.  Oh Mom, I miss you.

 

But there was one thing that she made that none of us could get enough of, and that was her beef stew.  I think one of the reasons it was so good was because she was such a simple cook that she didn't muck it up by adding a bunch of unnecessary ingredients.  She loved really fresh vegetables, straight from the garden, so they were wonderful and flavorful.  The base was water.  In later years, I tried to replicate hers (for about a decade) but could never get the flavor just right.  Finally I realized I'd been trying too hard.  Trying to improve it by using some kind of beef, veal, chicken, etc., stock, browning the meat with an assortment of herbs and spices, adding whatever was the current culinary darling. 

 

Finally gave up.  Just really fresh vegetables, good chuck, water and, for seasoning, salt, pepper, and a couple of bay leaves.

 

I still can't get enough of that stew when the weather turns cold.

 

Thanks, Mom.

 

And you're forgiven for the potato salad.

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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My mother's chuck pot roast was out of this world,and the gravy was incredible.  I've never been able to duplicate it. However, she always criticized her pot roast because the vegetables would get burnt.  Nowadays her burnt is called caramelized and is probably why the gravy was so good that bread and gravy was a treat and her meat pie made with leftovers was equally good.  As for her sausages, they were burnt, but her generation was  one that believed that anything pork must be cooked forever and a day.This recipe is an English recipe from the English mother-in-law of either the wife of my father's best friend, or a teacher in the same grammar  school where my mother taught.  The only change my mother made was in the type of walnuts to use. My mother's handwritten recipe was titled "Mrs.  ___________'s applesauce cake." (I can't remember the name)  It wasn't Christmas without an applesauce cake.

                     

 

             Mother's Applesauce Cake (Poor Man's Fruitcake)

 

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--------  ------------  --------------------------------

  1/2              cup  Crisco Shortening

  2               cups  Sugar

  2               cups  Applesauce, unsweetened

  3 1/2           cups  Flour

  2               tsp.  Baking soda

  2               tsp.  Cinnamon

  15            ounces  Raisins -- 1 small box

  8             ounces  Candied fruit

  1. cup  Black walnut pieces – (English walnuts can be substituted)

Cream the shortening and sugar together.

 

Sift the dry ingredients together and add them and the applesauce to the sugar and shortening mixture. Then add the raisins, candied fruit and walnuts.

 

Grease and flour the bottoms of 2 loaf pans and line with waxed paper.

 

Bake at 350° until a toothpick or cake tester comes out dry.

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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Pop's smooch - pasta, tomatoes, ground beef, onions and peppers, a smidgen of sugar then baked.  It masquerades as many names in different families.

Portugese sweet bread and oatmeal bread

Mom's stuffed eggs - hardboiled eggs, celery salt, Miracle Whip, grated onion and a smidgen of sugar.

Baked bluefish. Pop's clam casino.  Pop's clam chowder.  I have the recipes and can make them but can't stand to eat them after eating them sooooooooo much growing up.

Uncle Can's coffee gelatin

White fruitcake - we made this every year, starting it after Thanksgiving dinner by picking the nuts then unwrapping and rewrapping it with freshly soaked cloths every week until Christmas.

Belle Crook's brown bread - baked, not steamed.

Cooked dressing with butter for coleslaw.

Soft molasses cookies .... to be served warm with the thinnest slice of rat cheese melting on top.

Green tomato mincemeat.

 

From Johnnybird's grandmother:

spaetzle you cut from the board into the salted boiling water

matlaushen

kartoffel salat - not sweet at all!!!

sauerbrauten

esslin ...butter cookies in an "S" shape

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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As I have noted too many times before, my Mother hated cooking and burnt the daylights out of the steak she gave me each night.  Mother and Father were vegetarians.  I won't eat steak except under duress. 

 

My M-i-L was French Canadian and I had to learn to cook that way although my DH would not thank me for any of those cream, butter and sugar-ridden dishes now. 

 

End of family dishes story for us. 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Two dishes my mother made with some regularity stand out in my memory as my favorite meals when I was a child. Simple fare for simpler times. As I have mentioned before, I don't think of her as a good or very interested cook but we didn't starve or balk at every meal either.

The first is my mother's sausage and olive 'casserole' (primarily comprised of browned pork sausage, green olives, tomato paste, and egg noodles) - which probably came from some magazine and wasn't handed down through the generations as far as I know. If they had come from her side of the family, I expect I would recall my grandmother making them too but I don't. I usually left the sausage bits (unless they were crispy) and devoured the rest, especially the olives.

The other was definitely started by someone else (a Polish lady who used to help my mother clean house occasionally) and there never was a written recipe as far as I know but I reinvented it through taste memory for my family and my daughter now makes it once in a while so I guess it started a new tradition. I love 'tangy' flavours (note that the olives were my favorite part of the preceding recipe) so what I loved best about those cabbage rolls (so much so that I just can't bring myself to eat any made by anyone else because this ingredient is usually missing) is the sauerkraut. They were made with the standard ground pork, cabbage leaves and rice/onion mix, piled in layers into the pot or pressure cooker, and doused liberally with V-8 juice and a lot of sauerkraut. Huge rolls - one was a meal even for an adult. It was one of those pots you feed off for days and they just get better and better as time goes on, even if they no longer resemble 'rolls' when the cabbage breaks down.

I have recipes from the turn of the last century which were probably handed down from even before then, but browsing through them I didn't recognize anything my grandmother or mother made when I was a child, so I don't think they made it through the generations intact.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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Pop's smooch - pasta, tomatoes, ground beef, onions and peppers, a smidgen of sugar then baked.  It masquerades as many names in different families.

Portugese sweet bread and oatmeal bread

Mom's stuffed eggs - hardboiled eggs, celery salt, Miracle Whip, grated onion and a smidgen of sugar.

Baked bluefish. Pop's clam casino.  Pop's clam chowder.  I have the recipes and can make them but can't stand to eat them after eating them sooooooooo much growing up.

Uncle Can's coffee gelatin

White fruitcake - we made this every year, starting it after Thanksgiving dinner by picking the nuts then unwrapping and rewrapping it with freshly soaked cloths every week until Christmas.

Belle Crook's brown bread - baked, not steamed.

Cooked dressing with butter for coleslaw.

Soft molasses cookies .... to be served warm with the thinnest slice of rat cheese melting on top.

Green tomato mincemeat

 

 

Forgot to mention that most of these came from the cookbook my great-grandmother Wilcox wrote out in a marble composition book and gave to my grandmother  at Christmas  1936 when she, my grandfather and my mom moved back to Shelter Island for good.  I also inherited the original and a few years ago sent it to my cousin who had also been named after the same great-grandmother.

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Made Arey's Mother's Mrs. __________'s Applesauce Cake with newly made applesauce from our overladen Macintosh tree.  Delicious says DH with butter on it...he puts butter on everything which accepts butter graciously.  Thanks Arey.

 

P1010003_01.JPG  (loaf on right has been sampled of course)

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I have a lot of family recipes but most need to be "modernized" and cut down to a reasonable size because I grew up in an enormous extended family - raised by my maternal grandparents - and most of the recipes (receipts) are for large batches.

 

When something starts out as "weigh out 4 pounds of flour" - you know this is going too far for today.

 

I have a few on my blog (link below my signature) - the oldest the "Fruited Cocoa Cake" that is truly ancient and which I modernized many years ago.  My great grandmother had also "brought it up to date" in the 1880s so a century later I played with it to get it right.

The first mention was in an ancestor's journal in Virginia in 1690  and required chocolate "lozenges" pounded to powder.  

 

The first line my great grandmother wrote, after describing the cake, was  "take 5 pounds of thrice-boulted white flour" . . . 

 

It's an amazing cake which we always had for Christmas but also at other times of the year.  For Christmas it was baked in a large rectangular baking pan that barely fit in the oven (Estate range, large oven) and placed on a very large silver tray that was lined with several layers of oiled butcher paper that was trimmed to fit the cake so the paper wouldn't show until the cake was cut.  

 

My great grandmother never actually cooked or baked anything - she was a very aristocratic lady - but she knew how to tell cooks what to do.

My grandmother did some baking of special things (the Dundee cake) even though she had a cook and lots of kitchen help.

Her mother's Griddle Cake recipe is my favorite.

 

And some of the recipes are "family" recipes as interpreted by my grandparent's cook Miz Lily Pearl Gibson.  

 

Also my great aunt Maude (Maudie) gave me her recipe for Pumpkin Custard pie.  

 

My mother did not cook or bake.  She owned a bakery but was strictly management.  

My dad's mother was a pretty good cook but I spent little time with them.  (My dad and mom divorced when I was just a toddler)

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'm enjoying these. That applesauce cake looks good. May have to try it.

 

My mother was not an exceptional cook -- she was a perfectly adequate cook, but not exceptional -- until it came to the area of pastries and candies, which was weird because she was a Type I diabetic and couldn't partake of any of them. She made tons of different Christmas candies, petit fours for every wedding shower in three counties. She made a coconut cake that I can STILL taste right now, and ditto for her banana pudding. But the best sweet thing she made was doughnuts.

 

They were quite a production, generally involving making up the dough on Friday nights and frying on Saturday mornings, when the marvelous aroma would waft through the house all the way to my bedroom (front corner; kitchen was in the back corner, same side) and I would all but float back to the kitchen, half asleep, following my nose. She would fry up the doughnut holes for me, and I would sit down with a bowlful of them, and a glass of cold milk. 

 

The recipe, in her handwriting, on a grease-spotted, dog-eared 3 x 5 index card, is as follows:

 

Potato Doughnuts

2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed potatos
2 pkgs yeast
1/4 cup water
3 eggs
1 tsp lemon flavoring
1 tsp cinnamon
8 cups flour (I presume self-rising, as I don’t remember Mama cooking much with all-purpose)

 

But what's really fun are the directions. In their entirety, they read:

 

Fry in three pounds shortening.

Glaze with 1 1/2 boxes powdered sugar

 

I swear. I've always been terrified of trying them. Mama, rest her soul, has been gone 20 years. One of these days, I'm going to get brave enough to try those damn doughnuts.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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" in her handwriting, on a grease-spotted, dog-eared 3 x 5 index card"

 

I swear. I've always been terrified of trying them. Mama, rest her soul, has been gone 20 years. One of these days, I'm going to get brave enough to try those damn doughnuts.

You are so lucky to have that index card. Maybe you should frame it? However, treasure it. Try the doughnuts some time. 

I have a piece of paper, in my mother's writing, labelled "Nene's Bun". Nene was my paternal grandmother's sister. (Really my great-aunt Rose but no one called her anything but Nene. She was an important part of my childhood. ) "Nene's Bun" seems to be a sweet sort of quick bread with dried fruit. I've never tried to make it - maybe I should. 

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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My mom was an RN, with a mostly absent navy officer husband. I remember making "Fruit Cocktail Cake" with her as a small child. It amounted to dumping an undrained can of the fruit into a box of cake mix.

 

Interestingly, many of the responders to this thread have similar backgrounds with indifferent-to-food potential mentors. Maybe that provides some insight into why we are so focused on food now?

 

My real food mentor was Mrs. Polito who lived across the street in Vermont, after my mom died and then the stepmother died. She grew stuff in her garden and shared her recipes and gardening knowledge with me. We canned many quarts of tomatoes together, and I'm sure she's the one that inspired my passion for all things food.

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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