When we first moved to Illinois, one of my favorite Saturday pastimes was auctions. We found all sorts of treasures. Several times there was one particular thing we were waiting for and because they couldn’t get bids on lots, they would just keep adding and adding to it until suddenly the one thing we wanted was added to the pile — sold! $1. But now we have all this other stuff. At one auction I picked up a box of cookbooks as well as two boxes of rickrack and seam tape and some things that went straight to the garbage can without entering the house. Among the cookbooks was this little gem of culinary history:
Inside you can find recipes from the various regions of the US including pickle cured bacon (start with 100 lbs sides of bacon from fresh-killed hogs), curing hams (100 lbs of ham, use only corn-fed hogs), pig knuckles with sauerkraut, or stewed eels. The book was originally published in 1939 and this is the third printing in 1947, the year my mother was born. It’s not a book I turn to regularly, as you can imagine, but it is full of interesting things, like these salads — are these rabbits or rodents? Ewww.
But the book also makes me a little sad. Inside it was stuffed with newspaper clippings of recipes, a few handwritten recipes (in this box of cookbooks there must have been a dozen copies of the same ‘ham and veal loaf’ recipe and it made me wonder — was this a family favorite that was always requested? or the dreaded recipe that Aunt Helen brought to every gathering?). It made me sad that no one in her family wanted these treasures. I’m not exactly sure why, but I keep all the original stuff with the book — I’m an archivist at heart, I guess — including these photos and a personal note written on the back of a train car switching order that reads:
Could you please do me this last favor. Helen I don’t mean to take advantage of you by depending on you cause I know how you stand to.
But as as I told you dear when you least expect it, you have every dime you let me have. Cause I don’t know how to express my thanks to you especially cause you been wonderful to me. But I won’t forget. I hate to ask, but could you spare $5.00 more & this will be it till I pay you back.
Don’t you want to know the rest of the story? My guess is he didn’t pay her back.
Anyway, when The Happy Sorceress announced the next Retro Recipe Challenge (thank you Laura Rebecca for this fun event) with the theme of recipes published before your mom was born, I knew to which cookbook I would refer. In this case, I took a recipe for a filling and used it for the top of a tart.
I made the orange version and made my tart a ‘Dreamcicle Tart’ by putting a sweetened cream cheese layer on the shortbread crust followed by the orange ‘filling’ and then garnishing with whipped cream and mandarin orange slices.
Thanks to our hostess for an opportunity to make use of this cookbook!