Celebrations, May 15 2015 – Grandmother

Welcome to the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless new leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.

What am I celebrating?  Well, once upon a time, longer ago than I care to recall, I  had a grandmother (my mother’s mother) who was a wonderful cook. She made apple pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, crisp-skinned roast chicken…  All things good seemed to come from her kitchen.

And the kitchen itself was a wonderful place, full of delicious smells, with a table in the corner and lots of comfortable kitchen chairs to settle into and watch Grandma cook.

She made doughnuts (Dunkin Donuts would be jealous), cookies…  She came from an old homesteading family, out in North Dakota, and she somehow ended up in Vermont.  She wasn’t just a cook (‘just’ is not derogatory; she did a lot of things) she dealt with antiques, was busy with the town she lived in, and she was a wonderful grandmother.  She died long ago, and I miss her still.

The cover

Well, while visiting my mother, who is older now than my grandmother was when she died, I came across, forgotten in a drawer, a beat up old book:

I opened it, scanned it…  Why had I never seen it before?  It wasn’t as though I was never in the kitchen.  …Although my mother was a charming pack-rat when it came to recipes, with clippings going back to the fifties and sixties.

I opened the book and began to look at the
recipes.  I saw some old favorites…

…Boston Cream Pie!

Boston Cream Pie (actually a cake with custard filling and a chocolate-iced top:

Molasses what?

Molasses everything (they used a lot of it in Victorian times on the Great Plains)

So many things that Grandma made, that I had thought long gone.  Yes, my mother had transcribed some of the older recipes from her grand parents: (“Take butter the size of a walnut, mix well with flour and roll out until satisfactory.  Add essence of lemon and let sit…”)

What else was there?  Well, lots of old favorites, including date-filled cookies that, I hoped, were the cookies I remembered as a child.  They looked right…

“Mom?” I said, “May I borrow this?”

She frowned and looked up. “What is it?”

“Grandma’s cookbook.”

She had forgotten she had it.  Grandma’s departure had been hard, with her leaving my grandfather who was in his late nineties.  Things were done hurried.  “Well, yes,” she said.  “But be careful with it.”

Oh, I will be.  I’ve been reading the recipes and toying with the notion of putting them in a cookbook, just for the family, with facsimile pages, with some of the recipes transcribed  for those who wanted to make them.  Maybe.  There was a lot to dig through.

On the third- and second to the last pages I found this one last thing:


An index, by golly.  Thank you, Grandma.

What are you celebrating? 

13 comments on “Celebrations, May 15 2015 – Grandmother

  1. Oh Diana, what a treasure!!! I'm celebrating all the irises that survived winter!!

  2. You've struck gold with such a wonderful find. I'd spend hours pouring over the recipes even though I can't even boil water.

  3. Diana Wilder says:

    Ah, Irises! I discovered that some rhizomes that I had forgotten about, sitting in a pot of dirt, were alive and kicking after that dreadful winter. I'm off to look at your post!

  4. Nana Prah says:

    Such a wonderful surprise and a great idea to make it into a cookbook.

  5. M.R. R. says:

    Sounds so good. What are you planning to make soon?

  6. Nick Wilford says:

    She was definitely an organised cook! What a great find and great to have a chance to follow her recipes, the cream pie sounds delicious.

  7. Beth says:

    Delicious hidden treasure. You're a lucky lady.

  8. Lexa Cain says:

    What a nice surprise for you! I bet there are some amazing recipes in there. I have a few recipes tucked into cook books. It certainly never occurred to me to index them. Your grandmother was a smart lady. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

  9. Lara Lacombe says:

    Oh wow, what an amazing find! I'd love to hear how your re-creation efforts go! 🙂

  10. Hi Diana – what a treasured possession .. just a wonderful find. A great idea to put the recipes into some format, with copies of the originals for your family to see .. and then to keep that precious 'cookery hearth' book available for special occasions and in the Wilder Records for future generations.I am trying to recover my equilibrium after the A-Z and an extra major project I took on … so am way behind and haven't been a particularly good blogging friend in April or May .. apologieeeees!! Loved reading this .. wonderful memories for you – cheers HIlary

  11. Yvette Carol says:

    I loved this story of your grandmother, Diana. I remember so clearly all the wonderful things my gran used to bake – she had a little secret recipe called cheese and onion pie – only she knew how to make it. I've never seen, heard or tried a pie like gran's cheese & onion. Her pastry was perfect! Lucky you actually finding your grandmother's recipes!

  12. An old cookbook from Gramma would a a precious heirloom to cherish forever!!! Beautiful Post! Have a great weekend, Diana!!!

  13. Sandy says:

    Oh my Oh my! YOu really should be celebrating and we all will celebrate with you. What a wonderful find. Could I suggest you first make a photo copy of the book (scan it) and look into archival protection for it. Not only do you have her recipe but you've her writing, a piece of history, and stories. I do alot of genealogy and would applaud you're wanting to make books for your family. Do you have family photo's you could add? Photo's of the kitchen, of her, of other family, holidays where she typically made x y z? I am truly thrilled for you. Tie in her life date wise with what was going on in history at the time, it helps people understand essence of her life in context.

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