Mother's Cook Book

Maybe the change of seasons brings on thoughtfulness, or bitter-sweet memories, or melancholy.  I am not quite sure just what it is, or perhaps it is the watching of those you love and have known for your lifetime slip into old age. (And of course we are right there, just behind them!)

Brian and I spoke last night of missing both of our Fathers who passed only months apart and of all of our Aunts and Uncles now gone.  At any rate tomorrow is promised to no one and I want today to write of my Mother and her first cook book.

Mother is 83 and in good health and she is leaving today on a trip with my sister and her family.  On my visit last month we were talking about the black walnut cake that Dad liked so well.  Linda, my middle sister had asked if I knew which recipe Mother used to make it.

So I asked Mom if she had used a recipe from her first and for many years only cook book.

She does not remember her cook book.

I recall it was kept on an upper shelf in the tall (floor to ceiling ) cabinet in the far corner of the kitchen.  She also kept her tall pink piggy bank there.  It served as our pantry and an assortment of store bought canned goods was also stored there.  The items we grew and canned were down the back stairs in the basement.  We kept a  10 gallon pail of lard,  potatoes, onions and rows of green beans, tomatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, jelly, and canned fruit as well as home canned beef.  Sometimes in the fall Dad would pull a healthy green  tomato plant with lots of green fruit hanging and he would hang the whole vine upside down over a cloths line down there and the green tomatoes would ripen and extend our season of fresh tomatoes.

Mother's Cook Book was the 1947 version of The Settlement Cook Book, by Mrs. Simon Kander.

It was a wedding gift and one of the first things she did was to write her new name across the page lest anyone wonder whose it might be.

I think ladies of that age were so very proud to take their husbands name and she was I am certain quite thrilled to post it in her book.

Actually Mother and Dad were quite the love story.  He on an aircraft carrier in WWII and she writing love letters and sending photos to him.

So it is not at all a surprise she tried to cook special things for him.  As a rule he disliked cake with the exception of black walnut cake.  She did not have a recipe from either of my Grandmother's for it so she used a white cake recipe from her new cook book.

She made us cookies too.  Peanut butter-criss cross and brownies.  She made notes in the margins as to her adaptations.  She substituted 3 1/2 T. of cocoa and 1/2 T. of butter for 1 ounce or 1 square of chocolate for the brownies.   We did not have chocolate.

I cannot express my gratitude enough for her having given me this book.  The memories are priceless.  Thank you Mother. the way, I plan to make the black walnut cake for Christmas this year in honor of them both.

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