Does this book look at all familiar? It sure does to me! It is my mother’s cookbook! She bought it in 1968, the year it was published. I grew up with this wonderful fount of recipes in her kitchen daily.
It was used on the stove, on the counter, on the table and in her hands. Sometimes I held the book while she read the directions and cooked the dish. This pretty red and white number has withstood many a spill, spoon and steam over. It has been dropped, slammed, cut, burned and soaked. But it has survived to be cherished by a second generation, a third and now a fourth.
One of the great things about this cookbook is the basic information it has on the inside covers. I can’t tell you how many times I have used these substitutions in my cooking. Do you see all the rub and wear marks on the page? How many times has this cover been opened and closed over the last 50 years? I cannot even imagine!
The Chapter I remember the best is the one on Pastry and Pies. Mother was the best baker I knew and made the best pies ever. I think about her most often during the Holidays when I am making my pies. While rolling out the dough made with her recipe, I have conversations in my head with her. I tell her all about the happenings of the year, what the kids have been up to, the good, the bad, everything really. I trully believe she hears me up there in Heaven, where she is making angelic pies for the saints.
I learned to cook with this cookbook. Basic things and complex things too. I started with cream sauce. This exact recipe seen here was my first dish. I added a can of tuna and poured it over saltine crackers. I loved having pictures to follow. It was mistake proof at the time.
Years later I made this for my family. The kids loved it! My daughter still talks about it being one of her favorite dishes from her childhood. Who would have guessed?
For many years the magazine Better Homes and Gardens printed recipes that were to be used in the cookbook. This recipe was printed in 1972 and was to be filed under Meats. My cookbook is jam-packed with dozens of these stuffed under their proper headings. Most of them are award winning recipes, but very few of them are low calorie.
Most of them are wrinkled and torn but that just adds to the charm for me.
Take a look at these suggested menus! I’m very interested in Crab-artichoke Bake, but who does Hot Fruit Compote anymore? And isn’t that stain at the bottom of the page as sweet as can be? Is that broth or soup or tea? Could it be meat drippings or vegetable stock? What memories are in that little discolored spot on that page in that old book.Have a gander at their idea of the ideal kitchen. I have to say I love all the blue! But where are all the windows! It is way too dark for me. And who needs a rotisserie anymore, really.
Mother’s cookbook symbolizes so many things for me. It is a great repository of recipes, memories, nostalgia, good times. It continues to teach me lessons about cooking, life, sharing, relationships, old math principles and good housekeeping.
My daughter saw me cook with it and now my grandson Mac is getting to use it. Fifty years it has been our family, teaching its many lessons to four generations of cooks.
It is a tough little book with tender ways. No matter how many mistakes we make, it continues to forgive and forget.
It sits patiently on the shelf until needed. It always has the answer to any question asked of it. It never makes demands and only has suggestions for success. It never wears out and seems only to get better with age.
Mother’s cookbook. Ready for another fifty years of devoted service.
It happened on a Monday. It could have just as easily happened on a Tuesday or a Thursday, but yes, it was a Monday.
It happened at 6:30 pm to be specific. Again it could have been anytime but I remember it well and it was definitely 6:30 pm on a Monday.
What am I talking about? Mac’s first band concert, of course.
It seems Mac has decided to play the tuba this year – 6th grade. (Can you believe it? Wasn’t he in kindergarten just last year?)
There were tryouts at the beginning of the year on many different instruments. Mac blew into the tuba mouthpiece and the director announced he was “a natural”. My interpretation– “We are short of tuba players and you look pretty good.”
Anyway, Mac now believes he was born to play tuba, which is a good thing. He is in the beginning band, a very good thing. And they had their first concert last Monday night . . . . . at 6:30 pm, a very, very good thing.
The evening started out with Gramps and me arriving at the school and coming in to the auditorium through the back door. All the kids were nicely seated in the audience section and no parents were anywhere to be seen. Suddenly Mac stood up and said to us, “You can’t be here!” What ever happened to “Hello Granny”?
We smiled and waved to him. “Hi, Mac.” Again, “You can’t be here!” He’s very big on rules and regulations lately.
“OK” we said. “We’re leaving. Where are we supposed to be?”
Mac. “Out in the hall! You can’t be here!”
I’m not sure to this day what we were not supposed to see but obligingly we went to the hallway and there were all the other families waiting patiently.
Finally we were allowed back into the auditorium and all the kids were by then on stage in their performance seats. Of course, we could not see Mac. He was one of the four tubas in the back row.
The concert was great with lots of Christmas music. All the instruments were featured throughout the evening including the four tubas in the back row.
The time passed too quickly and before we knew it we were hugging Mac back out in the hall. “Congratulations” and “Good Job” were heard from everyone. Mac was beaming.
How special for him to have both parents and both sets of grandparents hugging him and telling him how great he did. Even his great uncle, a musician, made an appearance and was very impressed.
Nothing feels better than family hugs. Nothing sounds better than family applause. Nothing feels better than family support. Even if it just happened to be a first time ever band concert on a Monday night at 6:30 pm.
This week Mac’s parents have gone to Florida for a little R&R. Gramps and I will have Mac for three days and the other grandparents will have him for three days. Share and share alike we say.
He came with the usual bag of clothes, a stuffed animal and the dreaded electronic gizmos. Although when he is at our house, he likes to use my phone because it has the “good games”.
Immediately upon entering the house, Mac asks for my phone and retreats to his bedroom. (Really the guest bedroom but we call it “his bedroom” while he is here)
This means there is no talking, no interaction, no relationship going on between us and him. This is totally unacceptable to Gramps and me. So we have put a limit on electronics usage in our home and especially no devices at mealtimes.
Instead we do other things. Mac loves to ride his bike, so we do that often when he is here. Good for him and good for us.
He and Gramps have explored the uncharted areas around our house and gone bird watching many times. They always have a tale to tell when they get back from their biking trips.
Gramps and I walk around the neighborhood every evening and Mac either walks with us or rides the bike around. Walking in our little neighborhood means greeting other neighbors, walkers, dogs and children playing in the street. So Mac joins in the conversations and pettings. It takes a while to get around the block but it’s a wonderful journey.
Of course, we play board games too. Our current favorite is Monopoly. Mac always wants to be the banker. I always use the thimble as my playing piece and Gramps always wins. I don’t know how he does it.
One evening we watched “How To Train Your Dragon” in 3D. The best part was looking at each other in those glasses and laughing out loud. We had popcorn and everything. Lots of fun!
The next day we took Mac out in the boat. What a grand day that was! Perfect weather. Perfect water. Perfect company. We did some fishing – caught nothing but shrubs. We let Mac take the wheel with Gramps a couple times, which thrilled him to no end.
We all got wet and wind blown. We laughed. We talked a lot. And Gramps showed Mac the sonar depth finder. (It’s a guy thing)
The last morning, before our handoff to the other grandparents, was designated as “lazy day”, so Mac played electronic games to his hearts’s content. He laid on his bed giggling to himself.
He told me later, “I love my down time”.
Our three days with Mac were packed with fun, conversation, interaction, learning and love. I can’t wait until the next time. I’m already making plans.
Every time I say goodbye to anyone I adore, I close with “love you”. Every time I end a phone conversation with a family member, they hear “love you” before I hang up. Every time one of my grandchildren walks out my front door, the last words they hear from me are “love you”.
I want all my dear ones to carry those words with them whenever they leave my presence. I want them wrapped in my love and good feelings until we meet again.
For some people, that’s hard to do. For some people, those words don’t just roll off the tongue or come up easy in conversation. For some people, saying “I love you” to their own children is a difficulty.
I think children cannot hear those words often enough. I think they need to hear those words from as many people as possible. I think those words need to be sincere.
Knowing you are loved provides stability and reliability in your life. It develops self-esteem, confidence and pride. Hearing the words of love reminds you of your place in the world, in the community, in the family.
Being told you are loved makes it easier to share your own love with others. You are more likely to love and express that love. It becomes a full circle of loving begets being loved begets loving, etc.
My family knows I am going to begin and end every conversation with love words. It’s a known fact. It’s expected. If it didn’t happen, they would worry about me. Something would be wrong.
It has now become a tradition, a habit. Something comfortable and familiar that passes between two people. If it didn’t happen – if the words were not spoken – they would be missed. There would be a hole. The relationship would be changed.
But we don’t forget. We speak the precious words to each other every chance we get. Every time. All the time. Love you. Love you too. And the relationships stay strong.
Think it’s not worth the trouble? Making things for the holidays or anytime, for that matter? Think no one will really appreciate your effort? Think it is all a waste? Think again, my Sweetie!
I believe the biggest and best gift you can give anyone is your time. It is precious, unique and will never come again. Any time you are thinking about someone, doing for someone or sharing with someone, it is a gift to be treasured and held in the highest regard.
So spending the time making a gift or fashioning a decoration or baking food or brightening up the yard is a gift of your time and thought. Do I believe you should do EVERYTHING – NO!!!! That’s a killer and a misuse of your time. But adding your personal touch to each day and especially each holiday is very doable.
And the memories it makes! Oh Boy! I have the best memories of my mother baking for every occasion. Pies! Cookies! Candy! Cakes! Everyone enjoyed her handiwork. Everyone was blessed by her efforts. And she loved doing it.
That’s the double blessing of homemade. The maker is as happy making the gift as the receiver is getting the gift.
I love spending time on a project for one person. The whole while I’m thinking about them. How they will look when I give them the gift. How they will enjoy it. How it will benefit our relationship. On and on I think, until the project is done.
Then I get to really see their face when I give it to them and watch them enjoy it and feel our relationship deepen. What could be better than that?
I remember when we had young children, we decided to each have small blank books one Christmas. In each person’s book we would write down the gifts of our time we were giving that person. I had things like: “I will make your bed” from my daughter, I will give you a back rub” from my son and “I will bring you breakfast in bed” from my husband.
There were many others that year and in the years to follow. How fun it was to cash in the certificates during the year. Those gifts were extra special in so many ways.
Putting forth effort for those you love is never a waste. It is love in the purest sense, it is a teaching moment and a good example for all those watching you. It couldn’t be more important.
So put your personal touch on every holiday. Whatever that means – making presents, making decorations, fashioning yard art, baking, cooking. It could be as simple as wrapping a gift or tying a bow or as interesting as smocking a Christmas dress. Whatever shows your talent and care.
Show your love. Give of your time. Make you holiday homemade.
A couple weeks ago, Gramps and I took Mac to the lake in the boat. (It is still very hot here is Texas!) We went all around the lake and then decided we would beach the boat so we could do some swimming and wading in the cool water. Mac had his life jacket on and jumped over the side of the boat, making a very large splash. His comment – “What a huge displacement!”.
Thank you Science teacher!