Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vintage Cookbooks

Growing up, I knew Mom was a great cook. She could make magic with just a few ingredients and stretch a grocery dollar to it's limit. In truth, she started out cooking like most country cooks and made meals without a written recipe by following her Mother's methods. Years later Daddy gave her this cookbook and it was her favorite. Even if Mom hadn't told me how much she loved this cookbook, I could tell from the worn cover and stained pages. I also have memories of sitting at the kitchen table and watching her prepare a meal from its pages.

The inside cover invites you to prepare some beautiful dishes.

I always admired the choice of colors in this cookbook. Not only does it have some wonderful pictures of the prepared dishes, there are pictures of everyday American life. This cookbook was first published in 1956.

In addition to the recipes, the pages are filled with 'methods' that show you step by step instructions for making pie crusts, pastries, dumplings, etc.

The back cover is missing along with a few pages of the index, but the recipes are all there. Of course some of the pages are scribbled with an ink pen when Mom wasn't quick enough to grab it out of my hands. Just holding the cookbook makes me feel closer to her and brings back a flood of memories. Once in a while a book, especially a cookbook, becomes so much more than its contents. It's a bridge to the past filled with love along the way.
Here's one of the vintage recipes from this cookbook.
Summer Squash with Dill
Set out a 3-qt heavy saucepan having a tight-fitting cover.
Wash, trip off ends and cut into thin cross-wise slices
2 lbs. summer squash
Choose young, tender squash; it is not usually necessary to pare them. Pare only if the outside seems tough.
Put squash into the saucepan with
1/2 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill or 1/4 teaspoon dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Accent
Cover saucepan and cook squash 15 to 20 min., or until just tender. Drain if necessary.
Mix together in top of double boiler
1 cup thick sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 min., or until sauce is thoroughly heated. Carefully mix sauce with the squash and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring Thoughts

My Mother liked to fish, but my Grandmother LIVED to fish. I think Grandma would have fished every day of the week and every time of year. She went in February when ice had to be broken to get a line in the water and in the Summer when bugs can eat you alive. Always fishing from the bank, she would fish when the water was so high she could sit in a tree. When I was little, my Grandmother and Mother would take me fishing with them. When a truck wasn't available, we'd tie the cane poles to the car door handles and take off for the morning. It was my job to get inside the car and hold the poles in place while Mom tied them with string run thru the door handle. Then Grandma and I would hold on to them for extra support while Mom drove.

There's a field near my house that floods every Spring. Usually it's from heavy rain, but sometimes just because the powers that be are playing with the level of the lake by letting water out of the dam. Once in a while we would fish in that flooded field. The water would come in thru a drain that went straight to the backwater of the lake so fish would be trapped in the field. And they were hungry! It was pretty easy pickings. Often times we would end up at the 'catfish hole' down the river road. In one area of the road, water was on both sides. It was easy to fish straight from the road, but sometimes they'd let water out of the dam while you were there. I don't think we ever really noticed how the water level was gradually rising until it was spilling over the road. There were also times that the water was so high that we could not reach the 'catfish hole'. Those times, we'd turn a bend in the road and discover it was completely under water. We'd have to back up almost to the main road before we could turn around. It's no wonder that I grew up with a healthy fear of rising water!

Have you noticed you don't really have handles on car doors anymore? I haven't thought about attaching cane poles to a car door in a long time or what I would do now that handles are not an option. Several days ago I was at a stop sign waiting for traffic to clear. A car passed by with fishing rods tied thru the window openings. Where there's a will, there's a way - especially if a fisherman (or woman) is involved. Grandma would be proud.

So far we've had a record amount of rain for May and that field flooded again. I lost count of the days we went without sunshine. My rosebush was going to be beautiful this year, but it was pounded by some pretty harsh downpours. Here's a picture of what is left of it - still pretty - and cropped so you don't see the weeds! Here's hoping sunny days are ahead for the fisherman in all of us.