While at the cottage this summer I happened upon my Mum's recipe box, tucked away on a shelf in the pantry. It's a cheap old recipe box, bright yellow plastic with a peeling label on the outside. But on the inside - so many memories!
Mum does not like cooking much. Like me, she prefers to bake, and her bread was always out of this world. However, six Hendersons can not live on bread alone, so Mum did her very best to put healthy and hearty meals on the table. (Most of the time she was very successful, although there are a few stories of epic fails that still make us laugh.) We were a meat-and-potato family fond of plain Waspy food (I use the past tense because all four daughters are now big fans of cooking and eating a variety of ethnic and spicy foods), and we came to rely on certain tried-and-true meals. It was inevitable that I grew up learning to bake these simple and tasty recipes - not very exotic, but "delicious and nutritious" (a favourite saying in our house). This is probably why I love to make bread, stew, soups, and casseroles - the comfort food of the 70s!
The bright yellow recipe box contains many of the recipe cards that Mum neatly wrote out and used time and time again. I see the stains on them and remember all the times we sat around the table sharing her BBQ spareribs or sweet and sour meatballs. I can see my older sisters rushing to eat Mum's special soup and dinner rolls before heading out to a track meet. I remember making cookies and kneading bread and helping Dad make his family's 100+ year-old Christmas bread recipe. Basically, these recipe cards help me remember my childhood in the kitchen in the 70s.
There are also a number of party recipes. Mum and Dad were great for throwing dinner parties and bridge parties, and the three different recipes for punch that are in this little yellow box remind me of all the times I sat at the top of the stairs watching the adults laugh and play cards and eat Nut Chocolate Bars, snack on "Nuts-n-Bolts" and drink cranberry punch. My memories of those parties are very Mad Men-esque, right down to the horn rimmed glasses, hats and gloves, and wood-paneled walls, but minus the smoking.
Then there were the desserts. Pineapple Bridge Dessert, Mrs. Lighthall's pudding, Ginger Cookies (this recipe says "add enough flour to roll out"), Wacky Cake, High Hat Rhubarb, Princess Pudding, Molasses Sugar Cookies, and Apricot Cheesecake. Whenever there was a potluck event of any kind, Mum could be counted on to take a dessert. Or two! I'm the same way... I just love baking desserts and will happily crank out a couple for any kind of event.
So, I've decided to do a series of blogs over the coming few weeks, making one of the more memorable recipes from this little yellow box each time, and reminiscing about why the recipe is special. I promise they will be excellent recipes that you will want to add to your repertoire too!
First up this weekend will be Wacky Cake. Stay tuned!