Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Aunts Cookbook...

Imagine my surprise when I received a cookbook this Christmas season that was written by my great-great aunts for my great grandmother and great aunt. We are not talking the usual family, plastic bound Kinko's version cookbook--this thing of beauty was hard bound and looked like a "real" cookbook. In fact, when it was first handed to me as part of a stack of other cookbooks there was nothing to indicate that it was any different than the any of the other old volumes. It was not until I opened it to see the publishing date that I realized that this was different, this was a gem!

I was so excited that I flipped through the pages immediately, reading the most peculiar recipes aloud and keeping the most delicious sounding to myself. There were a glorious 151 pages worth of my family recipes.

It was incredible.

When I had finally finished my lavish journey through the volume, I returned to the beginning to again study the note from my great-great aunts that read in part:

"This slight evidence of materteral affection has no inherent right to be called a cook-book. It contains, as will be seen, no general rules for cooking. It is conspicuously lacking in directions how to bake, boil or brew, and is eloquently silent on the frugal themes of the trying-out of fat, the making of soap, etc. It makes no claim to being either through, economical, scientific or systematic. It is merely a collection of family recipes."

I love this passage so much that I am considering including it in my own cookbook and giving them credit.

I guess what thrilled me so deeply about the discovery of this piece of family history is just how deep my love of cooking is embedded in my genes. I always knew that my paternal grandmother's family loved to cook, and that my maternal grandmother was a good cook, but this is evidence of relatives spanning several generations cooking and enjoying feeding people. In fact, the last section of the cookbook is recipes from my Great-great-great-great Grandmother...that is a lot of greats.

If you love to cook go out and find those family recipes--sure some of them may call for crazy ingredients and refer to cooking over a fire instead of on a stove--but they will bring you joy.

I leave you with one of my favorite recipes in the book (mind you I have never made it so I am literally referring to the recipe) from my Great-great-great-great Grandmother...

To Make Cowslip Wine

To 2 gallons of water add 2 1/2 pounds of powdered sugar, boil them 1/2 hour, and take off the scum as it rises, the pour it into a tub to cool, with the rinds of 2 lemons. When it is cold add 4 quarts of cowslip flowers to the liquor, with the juice of 2 lemons; let it stand in the tub two days, stirring every 2 to 3 hours, and then put it in a barrel and let it stand 3 weeks or a month. Then bottle it and put a lump of sugar in every bottle. This is a good wine against the consumptions or any inward complaints.

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing! What a great treasure for you to have received!