Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pg. 51-French Goulash

Back in 1975 the oldest of my grandmother's six daughters undertook a project that still brings smiles to those of us who have followed. This aunt was quite creative. I remember her making Christmas candles using discarded milk cartons and serving the best sloppy joes ever. But it was that project years ago of sitting down with my grandmother and collecting her most treasured recipes and then putting them in order in a handwritten cookbook that takes the cake-pardon the pun. You have to understand. Many of my grandmother's recipes weren't written down or found in another cookbook. They certainly weren't on line. The only on line back then was a clothesline.Her recipes were in her heart-her mind. Many didn't have exact measurements. A pinch of this-a thing or two of that were used to define teaspoons and tablespoons. How long to bake something was often not told in time but how something looked or smelled in the oven. "Until it looks cooked" was a favortie line used by my grandmother.

So for my aunt to assemble the recipes and then record them for others to be able to use with exactness was a mighty task. But she did it in style-breaking the cookbook into seasons and telling stories of each season as they grew up on the family farm. It is an anthology of sorts of a time that has long since disappeared-including their one-room schoolhouse, telling how my grandfather would harvest ice with his team of horses and flatbed sleigh from a nearby river-to the lighting of candles nestled inside little tin candle clips on Christmas morning after breakfast, those candle tins sitting on tips of branches of a Christmas tree put up on Christmas Eve. Besides the recipes, those memories are reason enough to cherish the cookbook-to keep it for generations still to come-offering them a glimpse of relatives and a way of life they will never know.

While I have copies of the cookbook given to me be my cousin that have never been touched I chose to show the cover of that cookbook I've used over and over. The stains-the tape holding it together show how much I treasure it-how much I go to it for not only a recipe but to reread the stories. The line illustrations by yet another cousin add the perfect touch.

Of all my favorite recipes in, "Mom's Farm Kitchen", a favorite is on pg. 51-"French Goulash." I've made that goulash so many times and every time the smell of the bacon cooking, along with a pepper and onion, as spaghetti is cooked and drained in wait of being added-brings me back to my grandmother's farmhouse kitchen. That's what family recipes do. And when I make her rice pudding on page 79 and her Banana Nut Bread on page 108 I'm in heaven!

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