Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Family Traditions

Some of the most precious food memories are connected to family traditions. I remember my grandfather showing me how easy it is to make his favorite apple crisp, the many casseroles surrounding the Thanksgiving day table, and my grandmother's Christmas cookies of all shapes and textures. I recently inherited my grandmother's recipe collection. It is filled with more than Aunt Ruthie's sweet potato casserole, or Wilma's swedish meatballs. Thumbing through her recipes is like remembering every family holiday and every summer picnic. Even more than that, it is like looking into the refrigerator of an era of American cooking. The recipe folders have sections like chicken, hamburger, casseroles and crock-pot favorites. There is a salad section with hardly a trace of lettuce, mostly chunky compositions covered with mayonnaise or cool-whip. The pages are made up of cute little index cards from the kitchen of Betty Graeff, and clippings from magazines and soup labels. As a chef, looking through my grandmother's recipe book is as reminiscent as a family photo album. My grandmother, being as efficient as she was, bound her recipes in a fantastic binder with a folding cover, so you can prop it open on the counter at the recipe you want to use. It's fun enough to read her instructions.

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