My cousin Leslie decided she wanted to make a family cookbook from our grandmother’s old recipe cards, however she forgot her laptop. Enter me, who brought his. For five hours yesterday afternoon we transcribed recipe cards with her reading them while I typed them up. While some were, well, pretty easy to decipher, some required a special decoder ring or something to figure out what she meant.
Without the decoder, we relented to the fact that we’d just have to use our best judgment until grandma got back from the store, which sometimes was fine and other times started laughing fits that wouldn’t end. Take her recipe for doughnuts for instance. Everything is meticulously measured out until you get to the flour which just says ‘flour’. Nothing else. Now, to me, I interpreted this to mean keep adding flour until a soft dough forms, which is the end result for the dough according to the slight instructions. Upon asking her, the assumption was correct, but still we thought it funny that no measurements were there. Same thing for German Pigs in a Blanket that simply called for hamburger, onion, rice, salt and pepper and to wrap them in cabbage leaves, secure with a toothpick, and cook in boiling sauerkraut with water. No measurements required whatsoever.
Sometimes the words wouldn’t look like they were supposed to, as in a stuffing recipe that called for half a sausage roll and in parentheses has what we all thought was half eh? It turned out to be half pound. And every time ham would be mentioned as a substitute for sausage or bacon in a recipe, a side note was added to add some cooking oil to keep it from being dry.
I still have no clue what half-inch ‘pads’ of chicken are supposed to be, or what a ‘Slav’ oven (grandma says it’s slow and she just guessed at a temperature because she didn’t know what a slow oven meant either) but I do know it was a great way to preserve a little bit of family history through food we all know and love. Might I suggest you all take the time to preserve some of your family’s recipes? Assuming, of course, they will let you have them!
Side note – Sorry, people, you will NEVER have my chocolate chip cookie recipe!