"Mom, when you die, I want your cookbooks."
Cammie, my youngest daughter made that statement to me several years ago and I laughed, thinking it was a strange request. Now I understand her need to inherit my well-used stash of cookbooks. My recipe collection is a chronicle of my life journey. It contains recipes from all the areas of the country where I have lived, from my Mennonite/German heritage and from my ever-widening circle of friends.
I began collecting recipes after I was married, beginning with those from my mother-in-law who taught me how to make a hubby-pleasing assortment of foods, including homemade bread. As the children arrived and grew, they became my helpers. After all, when they were in the kitchen with me I KNEW where they were and what they were up to. Together we made many of the foods on the recipe cards I collected. My recipes became part of their heritage too.
Now I've added my mom and grandmom's recipes to my stash and I'm learning more about their lives. Two of my favorite cookbooks belonged to my grandmother. One is a 1925 pocket size paperback copy of the Watkins Cook Book. My grandmother maintained the Watkins brand of spices and health care products were "the best."
The second cookbook is a1929 hardcover edition of the Modern Priscilla Cookbook, sent out as a gift for those who subscribed to the magazine. What I like about this one is that Grammy used the blank pages at the end of the chapters to collect her own favorites, written in pencil.
These recipes really give insight to life in America in the early 20th century. Though I never tried it, I got a good chuckle out of the recipe for Boiled Coffee and wanted to share it here as quoted from the Modern Priscilla Cookbook p. 15:
Boiling is probably the method of coffee making in commonest use. it is the most economical in coffee, but it produces the least delicacy of flavor and develops the largest amount of tannic acid. For it use coffee coarsely ground. Allow a level tablespoon of coffee for each cup to be served and one extra for the pot. An egg, if the budget allows it, is also called for. If a whole egg cannot be spared, shells of the eggs, used in routine cookery, carefully washed before breaking, will do nearly as well.
Mix the coffee well with the slightly beaten egg, or with the shells, and add one cup of cold water. Stir all together and let stand until the rest of the water is being heated. As soon as it comes to a jumping boil, pour it over the mixture in the coffee pot and let it boil not longer than three minutes.
Stuff the spout with paper toweling or a bit of immaculate cheesecloth while the boiling goes on, unless you have the sort of coffee-pot in which the closing of the spout is provided for in the pot itself.
The egg clears the coffee, but two tablespoons of cold water added just before the coffee goes to the table will complete the process.
Well, now that we've got our boiled coffee, how about we kick back and relax with some brambles (a sort of hand pie I think) to go with it?
Brambles (page 260)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
Chop fruit and nuts, add sugar, and lemon juice. Roll pastry thin and cut in squares. Put a tablespoon or more of the mixture on a square. Wet the edges and fold over to form a triangle. Prick holes with a fork in upper sides. Bake in a hot oven.
Time in oven, 20 minutes. Temperature 400 degrees. Servings, 10.