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Making Vintage Family Recipes

During the holiday season everyone has food memories of special meals from past holidays.  Mom was always the best cook in the world.  I wish I could have her stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc., etc....You fill in the blanks.  We all wish we could re-create a dish from childhood memory that we fondly remember.

The problem is we can never get it just right.  We have to remember that Mom didn’t have a Cuisinart, or a blender, or a microwave, or many of the kitchen tools that we take for granted today.  So to start with, if we want to recreate a vintage recipe, we have to use the vintage tools that were in use at that time.  If you Google vintage kitchen gadgets, you will find that you are not alone in vintage cooking interests.  There are a plethora of sites dedicated to vintage gadgets.  You just have to remember which ones Mom used.

Once you have the proper utensils, you are faced with another obstacle.  Many of the ingredients we take for granted today weren’t available when Mom was cooking our favorite dish.  Forget the sour cream and agave.  The best way to re-create the dish is to get your hands on the actual recipe and see what the specific ingredients were.  If you can’t get the recipe, check with other family members to see if they remember specific ingredients.

My wife Tracy is very fortunate because she has several family cookbooks.  One, by her aunt Mari is  hand typed in a three ring binder.  I just glanced at it and saw that it was written in 1981 and references recipes from at least 80 years ago.  Another cookbook, The Galley Guide, was written by her grandfather in 1923 for cruising yachtsmen. It is a goldmine of information about vintage recipes and the cooking techniques from that period.  The book was in continuous print until 1958 and sold about 100,000 copies.  

Please share your vintage recipe stories during the holidays this year. We'd love to hear from you.

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Reader Comments (2)

We had our secret family recipe for Heavenly Angel Pie which was a lemon curd set in a merrange crust topped with unsweetened whip cream The lemon was so sweet that you wouldn't want the whipped cream sweetened. This recipe was passed down through our entire family. It was not easy to make as the crust didn't always come out right and the lemon curd seemed to be a crap shoot.
Then low and behold I was looking through an old "Joy of Cooking" cookbook and there it was, "Angel Pie" recipe verbatim.

Mar 23, 2013 at 7:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Hurd

Great food memory Doug.

Apr 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Registered CommenterTracy Linne

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