Mother’s Cookbook

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.

What cookbook nowadays has a chapter on Table Settings and Entertaining? Well this one does! Look at all the headings. Is that wonderful or what?! What a great gift for a new wife!

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.


Lights! Camera! Action! Movie Night!

Want to have a fun evening with kids and/or grandkids? Try a movie night. And I don’t mean just pop a DVD in and sit back. I mean plan for it, make it special and offer unique treats.

The best plan is to select a movie everyone will enjoy. That will actually be easier to do if the kids are teens. The younger the children, the more likely the movie will be more appealing to the youth than the adults. To make it more fun, write down acceptable movie titles and place them in a jar for a surprise selection. Or take turns choosing movies from a list. Or choose alphabetically.

Whatever way you employ, make your movie choice. Then a day or two before, begin promoting the night with posters announcing the date, time and location of your feature presentation. The kids can be paid in “play” money for any extra good deeds they perform, which can then be redeemed at the snack bar which will be set up on movie night. The snack bar can have popcorn, drinks, candy, hot dogs, anything a regular movie theater would have. You can even go so far as to get tickets at a party store and give one to each person so they can get into the movie “theater” on your special night.

On movie night, have everyone put on their PJs, gather sleeping bags and pillows and set up a cozy spot in front of the TV. Dim all the lights, turn off all cell phones and roll the film!

What about having a special dinner to coordinate with the movie? If you are watching “Mulan,” eat Chinese food (with chopsticks, of course!). For “Ratatouille,” snack on baguettes and a variety of cheeses. Children may even eat new foods because it seems fun!

Let your kids redeem the well earned “pay” for food at the snack bar set up on the kitchen counter. What a choice they will have with granola bars, candy bars, as well as small baggies full of candy, trail mix, Chex mix, pretzels, etc. facing them. You can also offer juice boxes, bottled water or cans of soda. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without popcorn, so be sure to have brown paper bags full of that.Try mixing peanuts, raisins and M&M’s with the popcorn for a little variety. Or try the following recipes for flavored popcorn.


1 1/2 gallons popcorn (popped)              1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups brown sugar                                   1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter                                                 1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup corn syrup                                      1 1/2 cups peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium-sized pan, bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil.

Boil gently for 5 minutes without stirring.

Remove the pan from the stove and add the baking soda, salt, vanilla and peanuts.

Pour over the popcorn and mix until popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn on greased cookie sheets and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.


5 cups popcorn (popped)                           5 teaspoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning                    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

3 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put the popcorn in a large serving bowl and set aside.

Stir together the butter, Italian seasoning and garlic salt.

Pour the butter mixture over the popcorn and mix well.

Sprinkle with cheese and mix again.

Want to know some fun facts about the movies that you watch? Go to the Internet Movie Database ( and click on “Trivia” (under the heading “Fun Stuff”). You’ll learn things like: the airplanes used in “Fly Away Home” were the actual aircraft used by the real-life team to help the geese migrate south!

Another interesting area at Internet Movie Database will give you information about movie bloopers. Check out the “Goofs” section under “Fun Stuff” and you might find where a caveman is wearing a wristwatch or a tattoo disappears mid-movie. Sounds like fun to me!

Maybe after the movie, you can have a discussion where everyone becomes a movie “critic” of sorts. Talk about things like: What was the most memorable part of this movie? What surprised you? Is there another ending you could imagine?

And don’t overlook the special commentary or bonus features of the film. It can be very interesting to learn how the movie was made, why some scenes were deleted, how creatures were developed. It can be educational, surprising and amazing!

Wow, what a great night this would be for the whole family, from grandparents to toddlers! It involves preparation, anticipation, comfy clothes, good food, entertainment, the best company, and bloopers – it can’t get any better!