Monthly Archives: April 2014

THE FIRST FIVE

THE FIRST FIVE

The following is a list of the cookbooks being featured in this blog post:
TASTEFULLY YOURS, BY THE MISSIONARIES OF THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA
HOME TOWN RECIPES by Boy Scouts of Lancaster, Ontario, Canada (around) 1985
GRANDMA LOVEY’S COOKBOOK, 1989
THE SIAS FAMILY HERITAGE COOKBOOK, 2003 and
LUNDSTROM COOK & LOOK BOOK compiled by Connie Lundstrom, 1992
**
Recently, I received three boxes of cookbooks from my penpal, Betsy, who lives in Michigan. She buys and reads the cookbooks when she finds them—and then, not having a lot of storage space, she sends them to me. I may not have enough space for any more cookie jars or recipe boxes, but I haven’t quite run out of space for cookbooks. But for now, the new stacks of cookbooks – all club and church types—are waiting for attention.

Since I wrote recently about my collection of recipes in 3-ring binders (which, I confess, I continue to collect as I go through women’s magazines and cut out pages using an Exacto knife) – I thought I could start with a few club-and-church type cookbooks, all spiral bound, that are family cookbooks—that is, some cookbooks compiled by individual families.

I know how much work (never mind cost!) goes into one of these cookbooks because in 2004 my family cookbook finally got off the ground and published before my sister, Barbara, passed away. I took some of the published Schmidt family cookbooks with me to Tennessee for Barbara (who the family called Becky) to give out to her own children and grandchildren.

Actually, the Schmidt family cookbook – which was titled Grandma’s Favorite—was twenty years in the making. It was at my father’s funeral in 1984 that we first discussed compiling a family cookbook and then it took the next twenty years to get the family members to send me their recipes.

It went to a publisher that specializes in this type of cookbook with my sister Becky and I footing the bill. We figured we could sell enough of the books at $10.00 each to defray the cost.
In 2002, my work office had decided to publish a cookbook as a company fund raiser. I did a lot of the work on that cookbook but didn’t have to concern myself with the cost. THAT cookbook, believe it or not, was also twenty years in the making. The Office employees began collecting recipes in 1985 or 86…eventually we had over 400 recipes (and the more recipes you have, the more it costs to publish it)—so another employee and I typed up all of the recipes, printed it at work and put the collection into a large 3-ring binder.

When the Office committee decided to publish The Office Cookbook, they reduced the number of recipes by about 200. The end result was a lovely cookbook. When a co-worker of mine learned about the original 400, he asked if he could copy it. I told him of course—as a way of saying thank you, this coworker, whose name was Garrett, made a beautiful copy of the original 400 recipes for me. What I have loved all along about the original 400 Office Cookbook is the many recipes contributed by employees who retired or passed away. It’s still one of my all-time favorites. This just gives you a bit of an idea what you can do with family recipes—but above everything else, you do need financial support. Becky and I, between us, came up with enough money to get our family cookbook published.

Here’s the thing about publishing your own cookbook—whether for a church or club or personal family; when it’s a family project, the publishing company wants the entire amount of money up front. When you are with a church or club, you have something like 90 days to pay it off. If you can incorporate ads into your cookbook by means of visiting various businesses in your area—that money can help you get your cookbook publisher paid off early in the game.

All of this being said, as a means of introduction, I want to share with you five other family or small church cookbooks. I should also mention that a lot of individual women have published their own collections of recipes. This is ideal course for someone who has a large collection of personal recipes and their friends and family are constantly urging them to get their collection published.

(Needless to say, these urgers are totally unaware of the cost of publishing your own recipes.) Oops, I lied—I just found two more personal family cookbooks. And I want to reaffirm that all of these came with the three boxes of cookbooks my friend Betsy sent to me recently. I have NO idea how many others like these are amongst the cookbooks on my shelves and in the garage library.
In any case, the first one I want to mention is HOME TOWN RECIPES, subtitled “Be Prepared” that was compiled by the 1st Lancaster Boy Scouts of Lancaster, Ontario, Canada.

This is a slim spiral bound cookbook that boasts of many sponsors—from a Lancaster Flower Shop to Feed & Farm Supply, some banks and insurance companies. All you need from a sponsor, when you want to sell them some space in your cookbook, is their business cards. Selling space for ads is a great way to defray the cost of getting your cookbook published. HOME TOWN RECIPES is undated but it appears that one of the buyers, named Eve, gave a copy gave a copy to someone else and then dated it January 24, 1985. I’ve done something like this myself, many times, when I participated in a cookbook project and then bought extra copies to give as gifts.

I am reminded of the first church cookbook I ever owned – it was a Methodist church in Cincinnati in 1961—and my father bought about five copies to give as gifts to my mother, sister, me – and whoever else. Those books were only a dollar each.

Not surprisingly, the Lancaster, Ontario, boy scouts HOME TOWN RECIPES from the 1st Lancaster Boy Scouts of Lancaster, Ontario, Canada isn’t listed on Amazon.com—but if you like the title and it has whet your appetite, you can find a slew of “Home Town cookbooks” to be found in many different cities – one I am interested in was Home Town Recipes by Friends of the Volunteer Center Auburn CA (Jan 1, 1969) – I have friends who live in Auburn, California. Home Town Recipes has a fair amount of tried-and-true recipes in it – I know because they are some of MY tried-and-true recipes—recipes such as Beef in Red Wine (called Beef Burgundy in my cookbook)—are in Home Town Recipes. There are a lot of ads in the cookbook as well.

Next is a spiral bound cookbook titled TASTEFULLY YOURS which was compiled and edited by Janice Conklin Hesselink. Recipes were submitted by the Missionaries of the Reformed Church in America, sponsored by Reformed Church women in 1977. What is especially fascinating about TASTEFULLY YOURS is its collection of recipes from other countries—starting with American Indian, Canada, Mexico, Ethiopia, Arabia, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and wrapping it up with recipes from the Philippines. Listed as a separate category are Southern recipes. A lot of work went into this cookbook. Tastefully Yours is listed in Amazon.com, listed at $7.16 for a new copy or $3.17 for a pre-owned copy..

A Privately compiled and printed is an 1989 endeavor called GRANDMA LOVEY’S COOKBOOK. It has 3 rings holding the whole thing together, and subtitled “A collection of recipes gathered over the past 73 years. Inside is a dedication for Mother’s Day, May 14, 1989, and offered as a tribute by “Ma Ma’s” children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter.

Also inside is a list of all the family members, listing all the names and dates of birth. Grandma Lovey dictates a lengthy introduction, starting with her birth in Germany and leading up to her brother Ehler and her, Greta, coming to America. Greta’s story about her life in Germany is really interesting –I am especially interested in her story about Christmas; the Christmas tree not being put up until Christmas Eve and when the children came home from church, there it would be in the living room. She also notes there were not many gifts, but mostly things they could use, like knitted stockings or mittens. (this is almost exactly how Christmas arrived in my mother’s home—although we didn’t go to church Christmas Eve—we went to my Grandma Schmidt’s house. I remember taking my two younger brothers downtown to shop on Christmas Eve day and then taking the bus back to Fairmount to our grandmother’s. My father would be sent to pick us up in his car when all was ready, and sometimes my godmother, Barbara, would be with him).

Getting back to Grandma Lovey’s trip to America, she relates that it took 10 days and 9 hours (which I think is a misprint), The first place she saw was Ellis Island and she didn’t speak any English, so she was fearful she wouldn’t be allowed “in”—she recalls if anything was found wrong with you, you would be sent back to your home country. (I understand that a lot of the foreigners who crossed the ocean and arrived at Ellis Island didn’t speak English. It boggles my mind when you think how they all managed to find their destinations).

Then Greta took a train trip to South Dakota to live with an uncle for a few months. In 1927 Greta met her husband, Roland Lovelace, who worked in a shoe shop. Six months later, they were married and not too long after that, the newlyweds moved to Fargo, North Dakota. There is a great deal more to Grandma Lovey’s memoirs—I could easily be swayed to write pages about her memories but this is a cookbook review!! What a wonderful tribute this was for the family matriarch—I can’t imagine how or why someone gave away or sold this copy.

Recipes include German Potato Salad, Home Made Noodles, Sauerkraut and Pork Roast, Angel Food Cake (about 1 ½ cups of egg whites—about 10 eggs) and my favorite, Home Made Sauerkraut—and more. Grandma Lovey’s Cookbook will have to be kept on the same shelf as my copy of Grandma’s Favorite—so many of the recipes are similar to those of MY grandmother. Well done, Lovey family. **

Another family cookbook was that of the Sias Family; their West Virginia Heritage Cookbook compiled by family member Judy Blevins, was in honor of Thomas and Maggie Garlin Sias. Ancestor Thomas was born in 1873 and died in 1962; Maggie was born in 1883 and passed away in 1932. They had seven sons and four daughters. Included in the cookbook, along with recipes, are family photographs of various family members, which is a lovely touch for everyone.

Look for traditional southern family favorites such as Blackberry Pie and Blackberry Cobbler, Pecan Pie and Old Fashioned Bread Pudding , Blackberry Cake (that I want to try) as well as some unusual recipes, such as Vanilla Cherry Fudge, Cupcakes Filled with Cream, or perhaps Sweet Potato CAKE—we see a lot of sweet potato pies but I have never before found one for Sweet Potato Cake—another recipe I look forward to trying.

Sias Family Heritage Cookbook was published in 2003, printed by Morris Press Cookbooks who did my family cookbook as well as The Office Cookbook that I was involved with compiling. I didn’t find it listed on Amazon.com but you may find a copy if you start searching for one. Judy Blevins, the family member who got the cookbook compiled, is listed at PO Box 502 in Huntington, West Virginia 25710 – in case anyone is interested.
*
Another cookbook compiled and had published is COOK & LOOK BOOK by Connie Lundstrom. She mentions that this cookbook was her 7th published book so I began to check into her history on Amazon.com. I found 9 published titles; remember not all of her published works are cookbooks.

I learned that Connie is the author of OUR FAVORITE RECIPES, 1982
MY HOME, THE HIGHWAY, published in 1986,
CONNIE’S CELEBRITY COOKBOOK, 1986,
CONNIE’S HOLIDAY COOKBOOK published in 1988 and
COOK & LOOK BOOK published in 1992

She is the author of FROM FEAR TO FAITH, 1994, as well as:

OUR FAVORITE RECIPES co-authored by husband Lowell and Connie.
CONNIE’S COUNTRY COOKIN’ 1995
LUNDSTROM PARTNERS & FRIENDS, 1999 and
CONNIE’S PRISON DIARY, LUNDSTROM MIDWEST PRISON TOUR, 1977
As I searched for more titles from Amazon.com, this is what I learned about Connie:
“ Connie Lundstrom, Christian singer, author, conference host and speaker, wife of Pastor/Evangelist, Lowell Lundstrom, went to be with the Lord, December 13, 2011.
She and Lowell attended four years of Bible college together at what is now Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota. Both were good students; Connie was elected valedictorian and Lowell salutatorian of their class.

The couple began their evangelistic music ministry, traveling in a little Nash Rambler station-wagon to churches in the Midwest. Since then, the ministry has grown tremendously. Connie, Lowell and eight team members traveled in two buses over 300 nights of the year throughout the United States and Canada holding city-wide interdenominational outreaches, seminars and rallies for over two decades.

In the fall of 1996, Lowell and Connie launched Celebration Church in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, Minnesota. They continue their soul winning outreaches and marriage seminars across the United States and Canada as well as being pastors at Celebration Church.

Connie is the mother of four children, Londa, Lisa, Lowell Jr. and Lance and grandmother of five, Chase, Connor, Reagan, Gracen, and Zeke. All of the children traveled with the Lundstrom Ministry team, participating in crusades and rallies while they were growing up. Connie has written about the many challenges and blessings of this itinerant lifestyle in her book, “My Home The Highway.”

Her most recent outreach project, one she was very enthused about starting, was the Good News Radio Show, a 15 minute weekly Internet podcast which is broadcast from LundstromRadio.com. Lowell and Connie began producing these shows in April of 2011”.

The cookbook I am presenting now is the Lundstrom Cook & Look Book; Connie writes on the cover, “A collection of photographs of our life on the road and recipes from special friends we’ve made along the way.

Within the pages of COOK & LOOK, I have found many recipes spanning decades of my own collection—for instance, Easy Pralines was a favorite candy recipe of mine—it has a box of butterscotch pudding and pie mix in the recipe. I’m not sure why I stopped making it but I think it was because I graduated on to some other praline candy recipes, but there is a recipe for Rye Bread that I discovered and-as luck has it—I have a package of rye flour that I’ve been meaning to make into rye bread. I may have to send some of it to my brother to Keep it from becoming wild bird feed.

Connie was a stunning beautiful woman, as evidence by photographs featured in the COOK & LOOK COOKBOOK, which, she writes, is a collection of photographs of their life on the road, and recipes from special friends they made along the way. I think this one is going on a baker’s rack, where I keep the cookbooks I use most often. And there are many recipes in this cookbook—lots of muffin recipes, for example, including my favorite muffin recipe that is made with bran cereal. There is also a Date Nut Brand Muffin recipe (2 cups all bran cereal) that I bought a container of pitted dates to try Connie’s recipe. Here is a rhymed recipe you may enjoy, if you remember all the rhymed recipes that I posted a couple years ago;

“She guessed at the pepper, the soup was too hot
She guessed on the water; it dried in the pot
She guessed at the salt and what do you think?
For the rest of the day, we did nothing but drink.
She guessed at the sugar, the cause was too sweet
And by her guessing, the spoiled the meat.
What is the moral? It was easy to see
A GOOD COOK MEASURES AND WEIGHS TO A “T”

This completes “The First Five”—if you enjoy reading about other cookbooks, I will work on the next five.

–Sandy

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REFLECTIONS ON LIFE

I often think of my life and my sisters and brothers, of our parents and grandparents, my children and grandchildren..of our roots.

As I grow older, I find myself reaching farther and farther back into my roots, of trying to understand who I am and what made me this way. I think I may have been shaped, more than I could have imagined, by my paternal grandmother and her love of good food.

One year when Bob was still alive and in good health, we bought 45 heads of cabbage (on sale for 9 cents per pound) and spent two days shredding and salting it down, and then packing it into a huge old crock that had belonged to my younger sister’s mother in law. As I stood working in the kitchen, near the kitchen window, I kept wondering if my grandmother and her mother did the same, in Germany, where they came from. I don’t remember ever seeing my grandmother make sauer kraut (I know she bought it in small cardboard containers from the grocery store on the corner, across from the streetcar’s end of the line). The reason I know this is because my sister Becky wrote about being sent to the grocery to get 25 cents worth of sauer kraut, sold in little containers much the same way Chinese food is to this day) and she would sneak bits of it on the walk back to Grandma’s, where grandma complained about the grocer short-changing her. Becky sent that story to Reminisce magazine, where it was published.

Grandma did make a lot of applesauce, enlisting the assistance of her daughters-in-law and some of the older grandchildren to peel all the apples. She had sour apple trees and they’d can a lot of apple sauce. During World War II when sugar was rationed, they’d can the applesauce sans sugar. For years following the war, we’d still have unsweetened apple sauce in the basement cupboards. We were allowed to put a spoonful of sugar onto our applesauce serving. I don’t actually remember the applesauce making, but I remember well the Mason jars of applesauce stored in a mud cellar in our basement, which had built in cupboards along one side.

Family folklore also has it that my grandparents made their own moonshine—and grandma fed the mash to her chickens, something I have no intention of ever trying.

My grandfather made grape wine from his own small arbor of grapes—that is something Bob and I have copied. We had a small arbor of concord grapes in our back yard in Arleta. Generally, I made and canned grape juice—about 30 quarts full in a good year. One year when Bob wanted to make his own wine, I said “have at it” – We found amber wine bottles for ten cents each one year at Pick and Save and bought fifty bottles. A good friend of ours named Stan made labels for us – “The Keeper’s Vine”, so named because I collected lighthouse stuff. I thought the wine was terrible but Bob drank all of it (not in one fell swoop, fortunately).

What makes us what we are? Do we ever really know?

One night when I was in the mood for some kind of snack—and all the cakes and cookies had been eaten up –in a fit of inspiration I made chocolate pudding—from scratch—cocoa, cornstarch, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. I don’t think I have made pudding from scratch since I was a teenager, where I had free reign in the kitchen.

As I was stirring the dark, glossy mixture, I began wondering what people did before Jello and Royal came out with pudding and gelatin in cook-it-yourself boxes, which in turn were replaced by refrigerated containers of Jello—gelatin or pudding in little plastic containers. (I have been shocked lately to see the price increases of boxes of Jello gelatin or pudding).

Bob and I were so enchanted with our cooked chocolate pudding (that I poured into old fashioned dessert dishes and then refrigerated) that the next night I made tapioca “from scratch”. Actually, I don’t even like the taste of pre-made commercial tapioca. Does this mean that the old ways are better? Tapioca pudding is one of my favorite comfort foods to this day—even though I don’t remember my mother ever making it. Actually, I think I was the one who began making tapioca pudding—all you needed was sugar, egg, milk and some dry tapioca granules –following the recipe on the side of the box. A box of tapioca was one of those items always on my mother’s pantry shelves.

I have yet to taste a pre-packaged dairy case tapioca pudding that can begin to compare with homemade, still slightly warm, tapioca made from scratch.

I think my attitudes about most things made from scratch—whether it is a loaf of bread or homemade sauer kraut (which we’d can in quart jars) – and still had perhaps half a dozen jars of sauer kraut – when we moved to the desert – are surely reflections inherited from my mother and grandmother.

Bob and I had our own orange and lemon trees in Arleta—which I didn’t can (citrus juices can be iffy) —but we made good use of, with fresh citrus fruit almost always available. I make all of my own jellies, jams, chutneys, and preserves. I don’t remember my mother or grandmother making jellies or jams. On the other hand, my paternal grandmother made strudel dough from scratch, painstakingly, stretching the paper-thin dough over the kitchen table which was covered with a table cloth, until the dough reached over the table on all four corners, unbroken, awaiting the filling. I am the first to admit, I don’t find making strudel especially appealing, not when very good filo dough is available in the supermarket, and then all you have to do is making the filling.

My grandmother also made all of her own noodles, letting the noodles dry on the backs of her wooden kitchen chairs. Lazy descendant that I am, I just buy packaged egg noodles, but like my grandmother, I make my own (from scratch) chicken noodle soup, boiling a chicken, deboning it, removing all the pieces of fat, then returning it to the pot to cook with noodles, homegrown parsley, and maybe a carrot or two, or some sliced mushrooms.

My Grandma Schmidt never had a cookbook or wrote down a recipe—and here I am, with some five or ten thousand cookbooks and a couple hundred filled recipe boxes. But then, my grandmother’s cooking was strictly German and Hungarian; she never made Chinese or Korean or Thai food; she never prepared a Mexican dinner and although she knew what sauer kraut was, she would have been perplexed, I think, over Kimchi (or making sauer kraut from scratch!)

I think knowing your roots is a good thing—my friend Mary Jaynne can trace hers to the American Revolution and is a
member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not only can’t we trace our roots beyond and names of our grandmothers parents and grandparents, we haven’t any thing to trace beyond that. The only reason I have the names of her parents and grandparents is because I had an assignment to do a family tree in high school – and was able to ASK both grandmothers for that information.

My paternal grandmother was reluctant to tell me anything about her roots. Quite possibly, World Wars I and II may have had something to do with that reluctance. She and my grandfather managed to immigrate to the USA before World War I began; perhaps she feared it could come to our shores.

A cousin on my mother’s side of the family, the same age as I, has been delving into the ancestry of the Beckman family and through her research unearthed some interesting facts about the Beckman side of the family. For one thing, she found a copy of Aunt Irene’s death certificate. Irene was the oldest of my mother’s siblings, who died when my mother was only about 17 years old. We always wondered what had caused Aunt Irene’s death – it seemed to have been covered up and not talked about. From her death certificate, we learned that she died from a ruptured appendix. That was a revelation to my cousin (also named Irene but always called Renee by my family). Out of a large family of nine children, my mother lived the longest life, dying at 83. Her mother, Grandma Beckman, lived to be 86 years old.

On my last visit to my hometown of Cincinnati, I spent one day with three of my Beckman cousins. My cousin Renee gave me, as a birthday present, our grandmother’s cookbook. We have been able to trace some of Grandma Beckman’s recipes back to this cookbook. In going through her cookbook, titled Our Home Cyclopedia, and published in 1881, I realized that most of the pages appear to have been unused—however, when I reached the section of “Pies” the pages are stained and show a lot of use.

Same thing with “pickles” – but the greatest treasure is near the end of the book where the publisher had left a dozen or more pages blank, for the lady of the house to make her own entries. In my grandmother’s elaborate penmanship, are her own recipes—from blackberry wine to Stuffed and Baked Mangoes (bearing in mind, friends, that Bell peppers were commonly called “Mangoes” in Cincinnati a hundred years ago—and still when I was first married in 1958. Grandma must have loved her Apple Sauce Cake as the recipe, in her handwriting, is badly stained, along with the one after that, for Angel Food Cake (written as Angle Food Cake in Grandma’s handwriting). Another well-stained recipe is one for making blackberry wine, which I would like to try if ever I have enough blackberries!

Born in 1881, Grandma Beckman’s cookbook provides some interesting insight into her background. I know so little. I remember her making corn pancakes, like a fritter—that she made when she was taking care of us children. I imagine it was one of the times my mother was in the hospital—most of my childhood was peppered with my mother’s frequent illnesses and hospital stays at St Francis Hospital in South Fairmount.

Clues to my maternal grandmother are sparse. I have one old photograph of her, holding a baby, surrounded by children, standing in front of an open door and what appears to be a log cabin. They seem to have been very poor, but even so, my mother and her closest sibling, my Aunt Lorraine (Rainey) went to a Catholic School. Perhaps there weren’t the constraints from tuition that existed when I went to high school. I have to imagine there wasn’t any tuition for students attending elementary school at a Catholic school back then. I don’t think there was any tuition for students when I was going to grade school. High School was another matter—but I digress.

For most of my life, my Grandma Beckman lived with her daughter, Helen, and son-in-law, my Uncle George. I think she visited other daughters or sons from time to time—Renee remembers such visits. I don’t. I think this Grandmother played favorites, favoring her sons and a few favorite daughters. (I don’t think my mother was one of them)…and yet it was my mother who put my grandmother into a nursing home and faithfully visited her, and it was my mother who made all of the arrangements for her mother’s funeral. I don’t think it was a matter of who was a favorite and who wasn’t – my mother had a strong sense of duty whether she liked it or not and it fell to her to take care of one of her sisters and her mother when duty called. Where did my mother get this sense of obligation if not from her own mother?

I hope my cousin Renee is able to provide more background into our Beckman family—it would be interesting to know. On the Schmidt side of the family, we can only reach so far back and no further; WW2 intervened and destroyed many of the areas in Europe where we might have done some tracing.

I’ve come a long way from reflecting on my life and what I remember from my childhood. Perhaps someone else will have to get into genealogy and climb our family tree.
–Sandy

RECIPES IN A THREE-RING BINDER

Back around 1960 or 1961, I didn’t know very much about cookbooks. Eventually, I acquired my mother’s Ida Bailey Allen Service Cookbook. That cookbook spent decades in a kitchen drawer—I learned how to cook from it—limited to cookie recipes. I don’t know if my mother ever actually used that cookbook, which I think she bought at a Woolworth store in downtown Cincinnati. Some of her cooking knowledge was undoubtedly acquired from both my maternal and paternal grandmothers—my mother made two large loaves of bread twice a week for as far back as I can remember. The bread was baked in turkey roasting pans and home made bread was on the table for all meals. My paternal grandmother’s cookbook was given to me by a cousin who received it when her mother passed away. We discovered a number of familiar recipes in that cookbook.

Some years later, I acquired a Meta Given cookbook that I think was sent to my mother by a book club—she didn’t order it and refused to send it back or ever look through the cookbook which ended up in my parents’ bookcase and I must have acquired that one after getting married in 1958. I DID use the Meta Given cookbook and the pages stained with milk or egg or other ingredients are the cookie recipes. The Meta Given cookbook went with me when I got married.

About a year or two later, my father brought home a Methodist Church cookbook that a coworker at Formica was selling for a dollar each. Dad bought one for mom, one for Becky and one for me. That was a Cincinnati church cookbook and the one I used extensively as I attempted to learn how to cook. Much later, I acquired my mother and sister’s copies of the Methodist Church cookbook. A few years later—in 1965, to be exact—I began to wonder if there were other church cookbooks “out there” and I wrote a request to a women’s magazine (one that specialized in printing letters, mostly from women like myself, married with children). I had no idea what a Pandora’s box I opened with that letter. I wrote that I was interested in collecting cookbooks, especially church or club cookbooks, and would purchase them or exchange for something available in California. I received over 200 letters and over the next few months, answered all of them. Those cookbooks were the nucleus of my budding cookbook collection.

Best of all, though, I acquired some lifetime penpals from that letter. But I digress!!

Back in the early 1960s as my then-husband Jim and I traveled to California—the first time in 1961 with son Michael then a year old. In 1963 when I became pregnant with Steve, I felt I wouldn’t have a successful pregnancy unless I went back to my own ob-gyn, having had a miscarriage in 1960 and another in 1962. A prominent obstetrician I consulted told me he thought it unlikely I could carry another pregnancy to term. So, we gave away whatever we had acquired in a couple years. I flew back to Ohio with Michael. Jim followed a month later by car.

Although I had a successful pregnancy resulting in son Steve’s birth in August of 1963—I knew pretty soon that the return to Ohio was a mistake. For one thing, I worked until 2 weeks before Steve was born (I went back to my old job) – Jim worked briefly, got laid off, and worked on remodeling his mother’s house which he bought (money or having an occupation apparently was not an issue in 1963).

We returned to California in December of 1963 – now with two youngsters – in the dead of winter, by car, an experience I try hard not to remember. We both got jobs at Weber Aircraft in January of 1964—he in the factory, me in the office– and a girlfriend helped us find a great apartment, down the street from Warner Brothers Studio.

At some point in time – I think around in 1959 or 60, I began clipping recipes out of magazines. I had a Woman’s Day Christmas cookie collection from the December 1958 issue of the magazine. I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to do with the clippings but I thought it would be great to save the cookie recipes that appeared in ladies’ magazines. I bought a 3 ring binder and began to paste, staple or otherwise attach cookie recipes into the binder, which I eventually covered with yellow checkered contact paper. This 3-ring binder kept me satisfied with the holiday cookie recipes from 1958 until 1986.

Somewhere along the way, I began to clip other recipes from women’s magazines and when I had a lot of them, I bought more 3-ring binders. I used 3-ring binders to store articles or poems of mine that had been published, and eventually filled half a dozen or so 3 ring binders with those. But recipes were my primary interest – even though I had also begun collecting cookbooks, primarily club-and-church cookbooks—I was on a quest; I collected cake recipes until I had enough for a 3-ring binder. I collected canning recipes, and when I had too many recipes, I put chutney recipes in its own 3-ring binder, jellies and jams their own 3-ring binder and so on.

In the 1980s I became interested in the L.A. Times S.O.S. columns which appeared once a week in the Thursday newspaper. I saved most, if not all, of them, starting in 1984. I couldn’t figure out a way to file the S.O.S. columns so they are all just filed by year. I kept those going for some years—until the newspaper changed the format and its audience focus… so when the S.O.S. columns no longer appealed to someone like me, I stopped collecting them. The S.O.S. columns fill two 3-ring binders.

Eventually, I began to realize I had created a kind of recipe monster. The 3-ring binders average over 3 lbs per album so Bob created special shelves for them when we still lived in Arleta. When he created the garage library in 2010, we filed the albums on the bottom shelves because of their weight. There are now 43 albums and counting.

But as time went by, I stopped trying to keep up with the albums. I began putting magazine articles, newspaper articles that appealed to me for whatever reason—into boxes—the ones that reams of paper come in. I kept them under a desk. Sometime ago it occurred to me that I had two boxes full of clippings in no apparent order going back about a decade. Whenever I found a section of the newspaper (L.A. Times, Valley Press and now the Antelope Valley Newspaper) that I wanted to keep—into the boxes they went.

Over the past month I began going through the boxes; by now I had graduated to storing the magazine or newspaper recipe articles in those 8 ½ x 11” clear plastic sleeves…and found myself creating another kind of monster – or maybe the monster had a baby…I have made repeated trips to Staples for 3-ring binders or for boxes of the plastic page covers. As I recuperated from a serious illness, I tackled the two boxes containing mostly sections of recipes from magazines (and as I subscribe to a number of cooking magazines, I acquired a lot of magazine sections)—and now have 22 of THESE 3-ring binders. The 3-ring binders have plastic covers into which you can slip something to make the album immediately identifiable – one for cakes, one for soups, another for Thanksgiving recipes, yet another of ice cream recipes that has been filled to overflowing for a long time.

Years ago, Woman’s Day offered booklets in their December issues that could be pulled out of the magazine. For instance, their December, 1972 issue offered a booklet of Holiday Favorites, while 1973 booklet offered Molded Cookies. Their 1974 issue had a changed format, a larger size with recipes for Holiday Goodies.

I am perhaps fondest of the oldest 3-ring binders I have collected with cookie recipes. Not just Woman’s Day offered collections of cookie recipes – McCalls and Good Housekeeping were just two magazines that presented elaborate recipes for the holidays. Good Housekeeping had a gingerbread contest running for decades, with houses that became more and more elaborate with each passing year.
Bob and I created a gingerbread house one year—he made a template on graph paper I baked the gingerbread house pieces and we both worked on putting it together. The roof was small heart-shaped cookies frosted pink and white.

Well, I’m sure you all get the picture…but you know, if your finances are limited, it’s pretty easy to create a cookbook of your own. I wish I could show all of mine to you.

But- there has been a surprising bonus to what I have been finding in the bottom of these boxes that originally contained reams of printing paper—not recipes per se, but sometimes articles from newspapers that are recipe related or sometimes include a recipe or two—one such article is an interesting one written by writer Jenn Harris, about her Chinese grandmother and her grandmother’s subtle but everlasting influence on the family’s holiday meals. This article appeared in the December 22, 2011 issue of the L.A. Times.

Also in the same edition of the L.A. Times is a wonderful article by author Janet Fritch, titled My Mother’s Kitchen Kingdom. I have Fritch’s best-seller novel White Oleander and her second book Paint it Black—so I was already familiar with the name. Her story of her parents buying a rambling old fashioned house in 1961—touches my heart. I wish I could have walked through that house and seen it in person. The time came when Janet’s mother could no longer keep up with the old house and chose to move into a senior residence in Beverly Center. Janet describes her childhood home as having a dining room and a library and closets you could walk into and a million hiding places. The title of the article is My Mother’s Kitchen Kingdom and it reached out to me in many different ways I can’t quite explain—the closest I can come to is identifying that house with the one Bob and I lived in for 19 years in Arleta—a rambling old house that had been added on a number of times and brought us years of happiness.

I think I have found enough inspiring newspaper articles to write a few blog posts—I hope you will enjoy them!

—Sandy

RETURN FROM AN EXTENDED MEDICAL LEAVE OF ABSENCE

It crossed my mind today that perhaps I neglected to tell all my Sandy Chatter readers why I haven’t written many blog posts in the past few months—I was careful enough to tell you all about my partner Bob’s passing in 2011 and try to keep readers updated on these and other events in my life.

But I don’t think I wrote to explain how I became suddenly very ill in January and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I spent two weeks in the hospital; the first week I was completely “out of it” – I knew I was in the hospital and my doctor told me several times that my kidneys had been failing. During the second week I became more aware of everything going on around me. My youngest son and daughter in law were at the hospital every day; I received five floral arrangements. Afterwards, I became aware that my family probably thought I was going to die.

Gradually, I began to recover and after two weeks, was released from the hospital. To this day, I have no idea what caused the problem with my kidneys.

Recovery was slow, however. A hospital bed had taken over my dining room and an older son came from South Dakota to take care of me. My dining room furniture had been moved to the garage—consequently, my car had to be parked in the drive way.

After two months, I began to take back my life. I don’t remember, however, exactly when I returned to my computer to make the effort to let family and friends know what had happened. After Steve went back to his home in South Dakota, I slowly began to take back my life. It wasn’t that easy. For one thing, my balance has been off for over a month and one of my doctors diagnosed it as vertigo. I have fallen down four times—I am usually trying to step up a curb and down I go—never a hard fall, just a kind of slowly body meeting cement pavement. I have begun using my sister-in-law Bunny’s cane—I’ve found I need something to hold onto when the going gets tough.

What has been more difficult, though, has been forgetting words or sentences—usually it comes back to me especially if a friend or family member gives me a prompt. It’s just in the past few weeks that I have begun to feel I am getting back my life – for that is pretty much what I lost for a while. Two thousand and fourteen got off to a rocky start—not just with me. My daughter in law’s mother had a heart attack—and my sons’ stepmother by marriage had a stroke—all on the same day I went into the hospital. (both women have recuperated).

Friends of mine encountered extreme difficulty trying to get back to their home in Oregon, after their long annual vacation in Arizona with other retiree friends—the husband became very sick until he could no longer drive their RV. His wife, one of my penpals since 1974 had to take over driving their RV home the last five hundred miles of their journey. By the time they reached their home they were both very sick with the flu.

It was a relief that I couldn’t keep my plans to fly to Oregon in April—I was too sick to go and they were too sick to entertain me. The list goes on and on – but you get the picture.

I just wanted to let my Sandy Chatter friends know that I have a lot of ideas for future blog posts and have been trying to get these blog ideas onto paper and uploaded to my blog. Thank you for your continued support. Much as I love to travel, I decided I would spend the rest of this year close to home. – Sandy

THE INVISIBLE MOM

I don’t know who wrote this, but I appreciate the sentiments–Sandy

THE INVISIBLE MOTHER

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature — but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription:

‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book.
And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.

2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

‘No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN but isn’t this a wonderful tribute for mothers everywhere?

–Sandy

Easter Greetings 2014

Easter Greetings

So often we lose sight of the original (or perhaps not so original) reasons for celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Easter and other events that were originally pagan holidays. When Christianity was in its fledgling years, the church elders wanted to steer people away from celebrating pagan holidays and instead, celebrate Christian ones, so many Christian holidays were built on a foundation of a pagan one. Sounds confusing? It is.
From Wikipedia we learn that Easter (also called the Pasch or Pascha) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

What adds to the confusion is that Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. (I can write it down much easier than I can explain it to anyone).

Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

But, like so many Christian holidays, Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians. Try explaining to any non-Christian how it is that Christians celebrate Easter and credit the Easter Bunny (which does not lay eggs!) with putting colorful eggs in a basket or hiding them in the back yard.

EASTER MEMORIES

The onset of Easter is on Ash Wednesday. Having gone to Catholic grade school, we went to mass every day before classes began, so on Ash Wednesday everyone walked around school with a black smudge of ash on their foreheads. Then we always made a big deal about what we were giving up for lent. The usual things were candy, soda pop, movies (not that we had very much of any of those things to begin with). In my family we always had some kind of fish on Fridays and there wasn’t that much meat to go around anyway.

I do remember my mother placing orders for new clothing from Sears or Montgomery Ward but the highlight of pre-Easter celebrations was going downtown to Schiff Shoes to get a new pair of shoes. These would become our new Sunday shoes and the old Sunday shoes would become everyday shoes. I think most of our shoes were functional, seldom dressy (until I got old enough to buy my own). I leaned heavily towards penny loafers and rarely wore saddle oxfords.

The Stations of the Cross would be said – I think – on Wednesday and Friday evenings. The statues inside church would be covered with purple cloths during Lent. In retrospect, I see that much of our lives revolved around the Church. Our church was St Leo’s, just down the street from my grandmother’s home. My father, uncle and aunt all went to St Leo’s too. My grandparents bought this three storied brick house when my father was about seven years old. Aunt Annie was a toddler who only spoke German and she got lost in the shuffle of the move. My father was sent to find her. I imagine most of the neighbors spoke German too. That part of Cincinnati was heavily populated with German and Italian immigrants.

The day before Easter we boiled eggs and colored them. Easter morning there would be a basket hidden somewhere for each of us. Imagine never refrigerating the boiled eggs—I told my granddaughter this recently. She was astonished. I said we never heard of salmonella poisoning. And nothing in our baskets lasted very long anyway. Easter dinner may have been one of the holidays where the Schmidt family got together – often at grandma’s – and when everyone had eaten, an adult would take the carload of kids to a movie theatre and drop us off there with just enough money for admission and either candy or popcorn. I think Uncle Al usually gave us each a quarter. We thought he was rich.

By the time we got back to grandma’s, the adults would be playing cards and all the dishes had been washed up…by then everything would be brought out again for a snack before going home.
I don’t seem to remember very much about our Easter celebrations.
I remember buying a new outfit for myself, for Michael who was three at the time, and Steve, who was a baby. We were living in an apartment near the Warner Brothers Studio. I never gave much thought to whoever might be going through the nearby studio gates.

Well, I’m not here to explain Christian holidays—what I would like to do is share with you a couple of my favorite Easter holiday recipes! My #1 favorite is my Cool Rise Cinnamon Rolls. Even as we speak, I have a pan of the cinnamon rolls rising in the refrigerator, to bake tomorrow morning.

Cool Rise Sweet Dough for Cinnamon Rolls

Stir together in a bowl:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry yeast (or 2 little packets)

½ cup (1 stick of butter), softened to room temperature
Pour in 1 1/2 c. very hot water. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add:
2 eggs (at room temperature) and
1 c. flour
Mix on high speed for 1 minute.

Gradually add in 2-3 more cups of flour until the dough is thick and elastic, pulling away from the side of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto counter or a cutting board. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out one ball at a time. Roll out into a rectangle that is roughly 10×14 inches. Spread melted butter over the top of rectangle to within 3/4″ of edges. Sprinkle sugar on top of the butter. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of that. Distribute raisins over the butter/sugar/cinnamon. Starting with one side, roll up the dough into a long, thick roll. Slice into individual rolls and place in a 9×13″ pan on their sides. I try to get 12 rolls out of each ball of dough and put 12 to a pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. The flavor really improves if you refrigerate this recipe overnight. Before baking, remove from fridge and let sit on the counter for at least an hour.

Bake at 350° until golden brown. Remove from oven. While they’re still hot, drizzle some glaze over them. Serve warm. Glaze: a cup of powdered sugar, a drizzle of melted butter, and just enough milk or lemon juice to make a runny glaze. Recently, I saw a bunch of glaze recipes and so I tried one. I was very disappointed with the results. Note to self: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This is a versatile sweet dough recipe and you can make a lot of coffee cakes with it.

My next favorite holiday recipe (for any holiday!) is my friend and former co-worker Nina’s recipe for making deviled eggs. I have no idea how many different recipes I have tried for deviled eggs—but always come back to Nina’s recipe! At work, when we had pot lucks, Nina had to set out one batch for immediate consumption as people arrived at work. She’d have a second batch when the dishes were put out for the department at lunch time.

To make Nina’s Deviled Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs
1/4 C mayo or salad dressing (less if eggs are very small)
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp horseradish
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Nina writes, “I very rarely add salt or pepper, but it depends on what you like. My recipe book also has alternatives: Add 2 TBSP crumbled crisp bacon, or 1 TBSP finely chopped olives, or 1 TBSP finely chopped green-onions or chives. Enjoy!”

I generally associate cookie making with Christmas but Easter is also one of the occasions when I make up lots of large egg-shaped cookies; two of the cut-out egg shaped cookie dough fit on a cookie sheet so you will go through a good amount of cookie dough and I prefer to bake one sheet of cookies at a time* so it takes a while to get the cookies baked.

*The reason I bake one sheet of cookies at a time is because my stove is almost as old as I am and I can bake two sheets at a time, by checking them after five minutes and switching the trays around – but if I am in a hurry or working on frosting, I do one tray at a time and set the timer. I made a lot of cookies this year—who doesn’t like cookies?

I made a batch of Hot Wings for an appetizer but those are so easy—does it even constitute a recipe? I like the McCormick’s brand of Buffalo Hot Wings spice mixture and bought a 4 pound bag of wings with the tips already cut off. All you have to do is mix the raw chicken wings with the seasoning mix and bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven. The directions don’t say so, but trial and error has taught me not to put the wings directly on the foil-covered cookie sheet—I use a rack. You won’t believe how much oil collects on the sheet underneath the wings. A lot!
My sons like the wings best if they are “dry” (not greasy) so I baked them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes according to the package directions—but they weren’t “dry” so I turned the heat down to 250 and kept them in the oven for well over an hour checking every 15 minutes to see if they felt and looked “done” enough. These wings are not mouth-burning hot like many hot wings ARE but we have young children who like hot wings and so the recipe has to be toned down for them.

I’m not hosting Easter dinner this year—I haven’t for a few years. I am going to my son & daughter in law’s for lunch. There will be an egg hunt at my son’s. Our holidays are a far cry from those of my childhood.

But I wish you all a Happy and Joyous Easter holiday.
Sandy