Yesterday I went to my Mom’s house for some lunch and girl time. When I arrived, my mother pulled out her old recipe box and we sat down to review the recipes she has collected over the years.
Some of the recipes were family favorites, some clipped from magazines, others came from friends and co-workers. There were even a few from yours truly, back in junior high when I began cooking in my family’s kitchen. Fantastic recipes from both my grandmothers, and their friends, were tucked inside as well. All were priceless memories and I am so grateful my mom saved these gems.
Reading and reviewing these recipes was just great fun. Over 70 years of kitchen knowledge, creativity and love filled these 3 by 5 index cards, some splattered and stained from excessive use, most handwritten by the original authors. I was transported back to my mother’s kitchen, my grandma’s home and my granny’s holiday tables.
Food is one thing we can experience with all our senses; sight, smell, taste, touch, even hearing. The sound and smell of bacon crackling in a pan on Sunday mornings? I’m smiling just thinking about it. Since memories can be recalled and heightened by our senses, is it really no surprise the huge role food plays in our lives?
As I perused more and more recipes, there were facts and information revealed beyond the ingredients and methods of cooking. The preparation and type of foods used gave distinctive and accurate points of time references. Food trends and cooking styles of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were also revealed. I was flooded not only with the dishes themselves, but the events of my life that paralleled those meals.
One thing we seemed to enjoy often were casseroles, cookies and red meat. Campbell’s Condensed Soups (hello cream of mushroom and chicken!) made repeat appearances, as did sour cream, bacon, cheese, butter and potato chips.
Yes, potato chips. Not only as a topping for those numerous casseroles and one-dish meals, but even in cookies. I swear on all that is sacred to me, there is a recipe for Potato Chip Cookies from my godmother, Anne Rose (who is still alive and kicking at the age of 93 bless her heart). And just to honor her, I am going to make the darn recipe and report back next week. It doesn’t really strike me as all that odd really. I mean, think about it—sweet and salty are very good partners in food. Kettle Corn, hello? Thank you.
The only substitution I will make will be butter for margarine, which is in the original recipe. Margarine began creeping into many households as the ‘Food Specialists’ deemed margarine a better health choice than butter. Deplorable. I’m grateful the margarine craze never really took hold in our household kitchen, and most of the cookies and desserts remained homemade despite the convenient cake mixes and baked goods which also began to fill the store shelves in droves. I’m also thrilled the ‘specialists’ were wrong about that margarine thing.
No, we didn’t eat gourmet. We had our favorites and most of them made regular rotations into our meals every week. But we did eat real food, prepared with thought, consideration, love and history.
How do I know? The proof is in the cards.