Reub's journey

08 October 2013

A gift

Last year we had the pleasure of hosting one of my favorite people on the planet, my 95-year-old father-in-law, for two weeks in December. Before flying out to be with us he asked what I wanted for Christmas. Aside from his presence I had trouble thinking of a single thing. Who needs more stuff?

Finally I asked for any recipes that might remain from my mother-in-law, who died in 1999. He wasn't sure what was left in that kitchen drawer where they resided all those years, but he dutifully brought me what scribbling he could find.



It turned out to be a treasure trove, not only of recipes but also of glimpses into Eliza's life. I can just see her enjoying a salad at a bridge club meeting, quickly jotting down the dressing ingredients on a score sheet.



Much of the fun in this old collection is her choice of paper. If you were born after 1985 you may not recognize where this little card is from, but on the other side you will find the scrawled directions for making orange sherbet.



This recipe has no title and so few directions that I haven't figured out what it's for, but it must've made sense to Eliza. Check out the ingredients...how much would 15 cents buy these days? However I'm pretty sure what she means by  "1 good teas."




This little brochure from the 40's still contains a coupon, and a strange recipe for "English Rocks."





As the decades ticked past, new ideas began to show up...granola? Looks like the grandkids were paying a visit at the time.






The paper is so fragile that most of Eliza's recipes can bear little handling. Still, I took this one out yesterday afternoon and baked orange macaroons.





Made with no shortening, just eggs, flour, sugar, orange zest, and almonds, these light little delights are like something you might pick up in a Parisian bakery. I don't remember her making these sophisticated treats but I'm glad she left me the recipe all these years later.





Five close family members celebrate birthdays in the next month so this sour cream cake is on my short list to make real soon.  My father-in-law's gift just keeps on giving.

My photographer friend Rebecca in Pennsylvania points out that I finally have a post for Friday Shoot-outs because the topic this week is "handwriting." If you'd like to see more, check it out at Friday My Town Shoot-Out.


39 comments:

  1. so very sweet. her handwriting reminded me a bit of my mother's.

    but what caught my eye was VESPER, WI! just a smidge from where i grew up, i've been thru vesper many times.

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    1. Really? Vesper is sooo tiny! Eliza was born in Vesper and spent her childhood there. I've been there once or twice.

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  2. fantastic, kerry! i'll see you for sour cream cake round about my birthday next august. XO

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    1. Thank you Laoch. A smile is worth a lot.

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  4. Years ago when our children were still little, my sister gathered up as many of the old recipes as she could from our grandmother and aunt as she could and made us all cookbooks. Often the recipes had no actual measurements, just pinches and dashes. I used to make my great grandmother's fried pies once and a while...basically a pie crust rolled out in circles with a dollop of cooked dried apricots in the middle, fold over, press the edges and cook in a skillet in hot oil until done. You have a treasure there. Now I'm going to have to see if I can ferret out my book of those old recipes.

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    1. I bet a fried apricot pie along with a good cup of coffee is to die for. I wonder if there's some overlap between that cookbook of your grandmother & these saved recipes from my mother-in-law. Could be.

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  5. This is a treasure trove that you got! It's precious...
    And now I'm thinking about my grandmother's recipes and wondering where they are, I'll have to ask my grandpa. My grandma was very protective and secretive of her recipes, she wouldn't tell you ALL of her ingredients, because her cooking was magic... :)

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    1. Ask him. Ask him! Maybe she wrote down the secret stuff somewhere. You can be a magician then too.

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  6. What a wonderful gift. I have several recipes from my late mother in law. My ex doesn't want them and my sons hesitate to take them also. Her handwriting is much like your your mother in law's and the jotting down of ingredients done so similarly. I guess I'll just have to keep them myself. Thanks for this delightful post.

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    1. Things like this should never be thrown out...there may be somebody in the future who would love to have those recipes. I hope so! Meanwhile good for you to act as the guardian.

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  7. Oh yes! I remember the orange macaroons!! They're delicious and so light you can eat a handful!! Seeing Moms handwriting does something to my heart. Debbie wanted some of her recipes too, mainly to have something she had written. Hope Papa left some in the drawer!! Thanks for the memories!

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    1. I'm glad somebody remembers the macaroons! :)

      At one time that drawer was crammed with notes and recipes. I don't have close to what was in there back in the day! Either it's still full of stuff or I assume your sister has retrieved some well-loved cooking lore. I can make copies for D of the things M gave me.

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  8. I might as well burn all my notes because my handwriting will never be decipherable to future generations. My mother's handwriting, however, is immaculate and I love finding treasures she has penned. You received a wonderful gift.

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    1. My handwriting is bad too:) Mostly I get recipes off the web these days, but that holds absolutely no charm for future generations: "oh look here are some of grandma's print-outs"... :-(

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  9. Really , who needs more stuff! What a perfect gift/family treasure. You scored big time.

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    1. It's the best kind of gift, isn't it?

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  10. Kerry, I just sighed. I'm sitting here looking at the blinking cursor trying to compose a response worthy of the content of this post. Thank you springs to mind immediately but seems so bare on its own. Then again, who needs more stuff?

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  11. Oh I love, love, love this! What a treasure. Thanks for sharing, it makes me happy that you value this as well. Many people would just toss it all.

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  12. I hope you link this to FMTSO, it is perfect!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, for the reminder! It's been months since I linked to Friday shoot-outs, and this dovetails nicely.

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  13. I am so glad to see your post I could do a happy dance. When I learned to cook 'a good teas' was a rounded teaspoon. Put the spoon into, say baking powder , give it a gentle tap on the can and you have a good teaspoon.... Did you know I broke my wrist? My dog ran me down at the dog park chasing after a little terrier. How do I. Make him be more careful?

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    1. Oh no Ginger, I did not know about that wrist. A big powerful dog like that can do a lot of damage with just a short burst of energy. If you don't already have one, go out and get a gentle lead and put it on him every time you go out. It has a strap that circles the muzzle, exerting pressure like a mother dog controlling a puppy. There are some harness-type leads that also help you control problem behaviors like this. Oh dear, I hope you are managing alright.
      Your definition of a "good" teaspoon is exactly how I would put it as well! :-)

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  14. Fantastic post! What an amazing gift for your entire family, really. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You can't really go wrong with a recipe collection like this, can you? I'm lovin' it.

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    2. As meaningful a family heirloom as I've ever seen.

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  15. Yes you do have a treasure trove. Good to see you joining us. My mom's old cookbook is full of recipes my gm gave her but mom must have copied them all over since I know they are in her handwriting. This was a good theme.

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  16. So good to see you again, Kerry. What a perfect post for the topic. And what an absolutely perfect gift for you.

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  17. This is really awesome. So many great finds.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  18. What a lovely treasure to have and how inspired of you to think to ask for the recipes.

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  19. ahh Sweetie! I'm tearing up down here in the studio over this........

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  20. Peggy: I bet there are some good ones in that batch handed down from your gma, even if they aren't in her handwriting.

    Pauline: Thanks! Good to see you again too!

    Mersad: Hi! Yep, and I'm still getting ideas from them.

    dbs: indeed, thank you.

    DT: I love gifts like this.

    Barb: I wish I'd thought of it years ago.

    jb: :-) Hold yerself together cowboy:-)

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    1. Me too! I love that card-catalog recipe, and the bridge score sheet. There's another one that I didn't photograph, written on the back of a ballot.

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