A page of a crumbling notebook filled with my grandmother's handwritten recipes. The notebook has a printed copyright date of 1915 in the front, but I'm not sure how long it would have taken to fill it. I scanned this and left the image quite large. If you click on it your should be able to read it quite well. Well most of it, I can't make it all out as you'll read below. All photos in the post are clickable to make larger. I'm always amazed at the details that the primitive box cameras captured and the condition that the negatives remained in for close to 100 years.
R E M E M B R A N C E — Boy did my grandmother love to cook! I entered the 'scene' quite late in her life, and she was pretty sick most of the time I knew her, but from all the stories I heard, and from my own limited experience, she could cook with the best of 'em. As it was, at the tender age of 5 or 6 she began teaching me to read recipes and to cut vegetables and measure ingredients. To this day I use her beat-up old aluminum measuring cup every time I need to measure. I've had really nice cooking utensils come and go, but I'd be truly saddened if I lost that measuring cup or her equally old brass pie crust serated cutter/crimper. I must have more than 1,000 recipes either handwritten, or typed, or cut out from newspapers and magazines, in several books and containers that she collected. I also have really old cookbooks from various companies, like Gold Medal Flour, that she must have sent away for. I think a large part of her camaraderie with friends revolved around passing around recipes and comparing cooking notes. I have no idea what I'll do with them all, but I'm thinking of making a large, highly-detailed piece of art with them. Most are becoming illegible due to the fading of ink, and the drying out of the paper, but they'd stay in their current condition 'forever' under several coats of polyurethane.
This fading and crumbling ruled notebook, dated 1915, dates to the time of my grandmother's first marriage in late 1916. I like to think of her driving to friends homes and sitting down to coffee and copying old family recipes of theirs, in preparation for her upcoming marriage. My grandmother never knew her real mother, and both of her stepmothers died by 1910 when she was 15. From what I remember of her, I'm sure she wanted to do everything right, to be able to cook anything for her future husband, to be the best mother she could be for any children she might have.
Nanny's Model T Ford parked in front of a friend's house (I always called my grandmother Nanny). Maybe she was inside writing down these very recipes in this entry.
Life isn't fair, we all know that, and while my grandmother was blessed by becoming pregnant a few months after she was married, her husband, my mother's father, died within 6 months of the marriage in a diving accident. He was a bridge engineer and was diving to inspect the pilings when something happened and he drowned. My mother ended up never knowing her father and my grandmother was a widow at 22 with a baby. And not much family left either. She not only refused to let it get her down, she eventually flourished, and my mother flourished, although I'm sure that deep down, both women were inexorably hurt by their losses.
I also have a handwritten little notebook of my grandmother's with her 'Budgetary Needs' written throughout with categories of day, week and month. The majority of the items are household and food in nature, or car expenses for the Model T she had bought herself in 1915, with items for 'Veronny' my mother's nickname, the second most listed. Only rarely were items like 'new dress' or 'dressy heels' or any other items for the young mother listed, so I know it wasn't easy for her. That would change in 1924 when she married her second husband, and as is the case in this blog, that will be another entry. : ) I'll just say now that her second husband, whose last name is my middle name, was a peach and very good for her. He adopted my mom right away, and my grandmother could buy pretty much anything she wanted from that point on. Well, until Black Friday, in October of '29, but that is another story too. The Great Depression hit everybody and, skipping ahead, by the age of 40 my grandmother would be widowed for the second time, this time with two daughters, Hoohoo (née Gloria) having been born in 1925.
Nanny in the driver's seat of her little Model T Runabout during this period. It appears as if the spare tire had been used and not replaced, and the other tires look none-too great either. Stretching funds to make a life for herself and her little daughter, my mother, wasn't easy. She still found time to photograph portraits of her friends and to document her life in ways that are so special to me now. I have that steering wheel on my wall, and one of the two gas cowl lights at the base of the windshields is on the table in front of me as I type this. The windshields themselves are in the attic, waiting for me to do something creative with them. I also have several of the headlamps lenses, which I sometimes use as coasters.
A serious pose under the roughly-hewn cedar pergola....
... and a much more light-hearted pose in the back yard.
Little "Veronny" in 1921, short for Veronica, always came first in my grandmother's life. Never knowing her father who died before she was born, my mother always had nice, freshly pressed (starched?) dresses in the many photos I have of her, probably hand-made by her mother, and cute shoes and socks. I have a small notebook that listed the single mom's expenses and my mother's needs were always put in front of her own. I think perhaps this dress was meant for her to grow into a little bit, lol.
I've scanned "Pop Overs" to post here, and at the bottom of the page is a recipe for a "1 egg Cake" although I can't really make out all the ingredients due to the condition of the page. I've never made popovers myself, but maybe I should try. I certainly enjoy eating them!
According to the recipe I scanned:
2 eggs well beaten
2 even Tspoon sugar to be put in eggs
1 cup of flour
6 Tspoon of melted butter (Edit: I think it says 6, the page is ripped right through the number. Does this sound right?)
1/2 Tspoon salt
Mix all together and beat with egg beater.
3/4 cup of milk (Edit: This is the order where the milk is printed on the original, but maybe you mix it with the rest of the ingredients and then beat with the egg beater?)
Bake in hot oven 24 minutes.
1 Egg Cake
1 Tablespoon of butter.
1 Tspoon B. powder
1 scant cup of sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup ( Edit: Can't read this word. Some sort of raisins?)
Bake 20 minutes to 1/2 hour
2 Tbs cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
(Edit: I can't read the rest of the words for this recipe.)