Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grandma's Cook Books

I am SO lucky to be the caretaker of my late grandmother's cook books. They were entrusted to me by her only daughter, my mother.

The three old books no longer live their lives in a kitchen. They're too fragile for raucous kitchen life. They now stay on the sedate shelves of our guest bedroom. From time to time, I will go in there and visit them, leaf through the pages and marvel at them. They are church cook books from Fargo, North Dakota. These are books created to raise funds for a church or ladies aid society with recipes donated by members of the parish. One book still has its cover so I know that it was created by The First Lutheran Ladies Aid, Fargo, North Dakota.

The other two cook books are missing covers but in the body of the book one can see that underneath each recipe is a woman's name and town of residence (usually Fargo), the standard format for crediting a recipe in a church produced cook book. I love that a lot of the time the woman's name doesn't actually appear. What comes instead is something like Mrs. Walter A. Rost or Mrs. Gordon Naylor. The recipe and the husband's name lives on for all to see, but the woman who donated the bit of kitchen lore is hiding behind her husband's name. The tradition still lives on in our family with ancient aunts and uncles. You get points for addressing letters to Mr and Mrs Paul F. XXXX leaving the aunt's name off altogether. When Christmas cards come to the house address to Mr and Mrs Henry, I know that they are from beloved ancient relatives. In the blank and mostly blank pages of these books, my grandmother has written in recipes that she liked. Sometimes a recipe has been pinned to a page with a straight pin - no staples just yet.
Her grandchildren have lovely memories of her visits as she would almost always make a special batch of cookies, a pie or cake.Here is one recipe entitled Susan's cookies. The Susan in the title can only be my cousin Susan, the only Susan in the family and one of her first and most treasured grandchildren.

I had a brief instant message conversation with yet another cousin, dear Lu Ann yesterday she recalled quite vividly Grandma's lemon meringue pie and molasses crinkle cookies. The pie recipe was one that was written on of the blank pages right underneath a recipe for grasshopper pie. The pie is not made with real grasshoppers though grasshoppers are plentiful in North Dakota! The pie is made with creme de menthe. Sounds yummy!

I trawled through for which recipe could be the molasses cookie recipe. None were called Molasses Crinkles and there are more than one recipe for molasses cookies in each of the three books. There was one recipe that stood out amongst the others due to the well spattered page it was on. It could very well be the ones that Lu Ann remembers. Lu Ann will have to make the cookies and see if this is the recipe that she remembers.

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