Grandma Helen's Cookbook

What a treasure! The other day Anna stopped by the Diner with a special present. There was no particular celebration or anything taking place, so I was curious when she handed me a present.

I could tell it was a book, but, could it be?! The Quest was over?! No, the book was not quite big enough. Some other book, though, and what a surprise! A book I have never seen before, but when I opened the front cover I knew immediately why it was special! The handwriting was so familiar!

Anna said it was the first cookbook Grandma Helen got when she and Grandpa Sid were married in the late 1930’s and she needed to teach herself how to cook.

Grandma Helen wrote all kinds of notes – which recipes were favorites, how many tablespoons of coffee to put in the coffee maker, “baste a Turkey with Crisco never butter,” Mary & Phil drink club soda (that’s my Great Aunt Mary and Uncle Phil), that PX (that’s Daddy) brought the Gold & White China ware on August 25, 1958 for $42 and it serves 12 (it’s in my cupboard now), and much, much more.

The Hash must have been really good, or Grandpa Sid liked it a lot, since Grandma Helen references it a few times. She noted when the dogs died, when PX went into the Navy, when appliances were purchased, and where they had bank accounts. It’s all there, including some well seasoned pages.

What a treat! Grandma Helen even had to put masking tape on the edge of the front cover to reattach it to the binding; the book was used so much.

Now THIS is a cookbook! And I even found something I had been looking for - a poundcake recipe. You know - a pound of butter, a pound of cake flour, a pound of sugar, and what must be a pound of eggs – 10 of them! (By the way, that's my modern day post-it sticking out of the side marking the "Old-Fashioned Poundcake" recipe.)

Thank you Anna. Thank you Grandma Helen. I will cherish The American Woman’s Cook Book and all the love it holds.


Valentine's Baking 2010

Baking, baking, baking. Baking, baking, baking. Baking, baking, baking, bak-ing!! (Sing to tune of “Rawhide.”)

As HH is working on the re-landscaping of the Diner, I am just a busy little bee in the kitchen, baking for my Valentine.

And I am officially no longer taking responsibility for the burning, and therefore “smoke alarm timer,” of the cookies at the Diner. I have an in-oven thermometer now. I watched it like a hawk today, and when I set the oven gauge from 400º to375º to 350º to adjust for different baking, and the oven thermometer moves from 475º to 400 to 275º it’s no longer my responsibility. The oven has a mind of its own!

Anyway, I digress.

In lieu of candies or flowers or balloons for my Valentine, I know chocolate cake with white icing in a sheet form, and homemade chocolate chip cookies are the way to his heart. I made the other “cake” for me to try – good excuse on Valentine’s Day. I’ll let you know how it is after our Valentine’s/Year of the Tiger dinner at the Diner tonight.

In the meantime, happiness to everyone today and everyone you love.


Super Bowl Sunday

When I look up “Super Bowl Sunday” in the dictionary, this is what I read: “The one day of the year that you can eat all the crap you want at one time and get away with it – at least mentally.” Remember, I said “when I look up…” It’s my dictionary; I can interpret it however I want!

Yesterday HH and I went to the grocery store, always a concern what might come home with us when we go together, although not yesterday. When we were unpacking the groceries I realized that per capita, there was more processed food brought into the Diner in one day than any other day of the year.

We have:
Jumbo bag of peanut M & M’s (on sale and the same price as the large bag!)
Nacho Cheese Doritos
Chili Cheese Fritos, I already have sour cream to dip them in
Ginger Snap cookies
Lemon cookies
Rocky Road ice cream
Chicken wings
Thomas’ English Muffins (buy one get one free for Super Bowl breakfast!)
Money Bag appetizer (there are some vegetables in this, that was my excuse)
Jell-O mousse chocolate mousse cups
Avocados and chips earlier in the week for guacamole
Red and green grapes
Wild West trail mix with nuts, raisins and two kinds of M & M’s
Panko coated shrimp for frying
Wheat Thins to go with the Rondele garlic & herb spread we’ve been saving
Beer on-hand if needed, and lots of soda
And if necessary, there is pizza leftover from earlier in the week

The menu is planned, our bellies are primed, and my work-out clothes await me tomorrow.

Let the Show begin!


My Favorite Recipes

I have a lot of recipes. Some marked with post-its in cookbooks, others dog-eared in magazines, a few filed in Grand Helen’s wooden recipe box, many organized (in some fashion) in my spiral recipe holder on the counter, and in my counter top recipe binder that says “Holly’s Kitchen” – that was before the Diner opened.

There are recipes I use, recipes I think sound good, recipes that someone has shared with me and recipes I know I will never attempt.

Then there are my treasured recipes from family and friends. The ones that you can find under “Recipes” at the Diner are “*”. The others will be appearing at the Diner in the future. Here are my well seasoned, treasured favorites:

Art’s Special Sauce*
Anna’s Cranberry Waldorf Salad*
Mom’s Lasagna*
Mom’s Cherry-O Cream Pie
Mike’s Favorite Cocoa Cookies (Nana’s recipe)*
Jane’s Broccoli Salad*
Laurie’s Albondigas – Mexican Meatball Soup*
Laurie’s Chinese Cabbage Salad
Fran’s Roast Beef, with Beef Stroganoff as a left-over
Joyce’s Potato Salad
Gary’s Potato Salad
“Just Joan’s” Buena Vista Stew
Uncle Larry’s Frito Pork Roast*
Chila’s Black Bean Soup
HH’s World Famous Macaroni Salad*
Diane's Chicken Mole*
Nana’s Chicken & Rice*
Pat’s Chicken Soup

And the newest addition doesn’t even have a title written on it. It arrived a few days ago, Anna stopped by the Diner to share it. She was going through Aunt Mary’s Joy of Cooking (although I am not sure why because she will tell you she doesn’t cook any more.) She found this recipe by accident and gave me the original copy, so generous!

This recipe was written 13 years ago. The paper is yellowed and a bit brittle. The recipe was used once, and deemed delicious. The handwriting is ever so familiar. My Daddy wrote out this recipe.

Anna tells me it’s a cookie recipe, so let’s name it Daddy’s Cookies, that Daddy discovered by accident. Daddy and Anna were out “looking for treasures” one Saturday morning, i.e., garage saling. They stopped at one house in the neighborhood and the kids in the family were selling cookies. Daddy bought a few and enjoyed them so much he went back and asked for the recipe. Daddy wrote the recipe himself, copying it from the original baker.

Anna said she came home from work shortly after that day and Daddy had baked the cookies as the recipe stated – there were 14 dozen cookies sitting on the counter!

This story is so much my Daddy, I can’t even tell you! Trying something new, loving the treat, going back to let the cook know how much he enjoyed it and asking for the recipe.

The point of these written recipes, for me, has never been about the recipe itself. The point is about the person writing them and having a familiar written record of their heart and soul with me forever. I feel comfort and warmth for each person, and the food I am fixing, when I prepare one of these recipes. It is about the love.

If you have a written recipe you would like it add to the list, send it to the Diner, we’ll try it out soon and keep it in a“treasured” place.