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My Mother’s Kitchen – A Series

I was reading Nancy Leason’s column All You Can Eat (it runs in the Seattle Times newspaper), catching up, when I read the one on “Recipe Box“. It really got me thinking about my Mom….

My Mom and I below Mt. Shuksan in the summer of 2001 with Ford on my lap.

My Mom was a frustrated cook.

Looking back as an adult I can see that. She truly loved food and loved puttering in the kitchen. She could make a meal out of nearly anything. She was blocked so badly in that by my Dad. My Dad was sadly the typical meat and potato man who liked his food in the Triple BBM Method: bland, boring and mushy. My Aunt Vikki really brought that home a couple years ago at a lunch we had gone on when she commented that when my Mom would eat out (which was always a treat) she would order the craziest sounding thing on the menu. How she must have dreaded cooking dinners. No wonder she was happy to let me cook dinner so often, especially as I got older.

I lost my Mom 5½ years ago and by then she had downsized a lot in her possessions, as my Dad had passed away 3 years before. What I did end up with was a couple of boxes of family photos and a number of small handwritten and typed recipe cards. Sadly by then most of her old cookbooks had been shed. I tucked these away not really knowing what to do with them. I don’t cook the way we did when growing up although I realized as I pondered it more that when I was truly young she cooked differently. Maybe my Mom hadn’t been beaten down emotionally yet by her god-awful Father In-Law (my Mom had a seriously epic horrid set of In-Laws who lived in a trailer in our back yard  with us till I was a teen and he died). That crotchy old man would whine about his dinner but somehow he never came back with an empty plate.

Maybe she still had some of her inner happiness. Getting older makes one ponder a lot more than when one is young.  When I was young (late 70’s/early 80’s) being a granola-head was all the rage. We would can together, pick vegetables and fruits together. My Mom taught me how to bake bread by hand, how to bake desserts, can everything you could dream of (she made amazing pickles), make jam, even dehydrating food. She taught me how to forage (my epic love of wild huckleberries comes from her), canning smoked Sturgeon from the Columbia River and so many things. I have vivid good memories of those times. Maybe not so much of things like us boiling cow tongue together and making sandwich spread (waste not, want not I know). If someone passed on part of a bounty to my Mom she found a way to use it and make it edible. Be it peaches or gag inducing cow tongue (we had a rancher/farmer behind us for a couple years).

More vivid memories might be of the pot luck parties we went to. We lived semi-rural on the edge of a small town. Any church celebration was a pot luck, often held at the local grange hall (Jeez, I am REALLY dating myself). It wasn’t till I was over 35 that I attended a “normal” wedding where it had a few platters of boring meat/cheese/veggies/fruit and some drinks. Big whoopee! I know not everyone loves potlucks, but those were amazing – tables draped in food. Lots and lots of choices. She always had fun cooking up something for them and more she could eat something not BBM for once.

It took me many years to overcome that kind of cooking as well. I am grateful that Kirk will eat nearly anything I make, no matter how crazy it sounds. And the kids are good at it as well. And no way are we ever having set dinner nights – no Taco Tuesday in this house!

But as I read Nancy’s column I started thinking about those recipes tucked away, the old ones. Some were typed by my Grandmother on her cursive typewriter, probably mailed to my Mom in a pretty letter (My poor Grandmother tried for years to get us kids to write letters. Who knew that email would actually make me a letter writer in the end…..) and other ones were my Mom’s handwriting. Others were ones she had clipped out and taped onto index cards. Other ones were from her friends, probably shared after a potluck. Cookbooks were not like they are today and my Mom didn’t have many. She would have loved seeing all the cookbooks that wander through my kitchen and office these days!

Her recipes need for me to write them down, get them digitized and out there – otherwise the cards I have tucked away are going to only get older and harder to read. I will be adding to this set over time as I find the recipes and will be tagged under “My Mother’s Kitchen“.

To start it off, this recipe was on a piece of steno paper with no directions outside of baking temp and time. But I made it with my Mom so many times I know how it is made. My Grandmother loved this pie. If I remember right my Dad would crab because he didn’t like it. Wahhhhhh. My Mom could make an amazing pie crust from scratch which she did with lard, ice water and flour. Back before anyone protested lard being used 😉

Raisin Sour Cream Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1½ cups sour cream (full fat, no stabilizers added!!)
  • ¼ tsp each ground cloves, ground nutmeg and salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 3 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 1 9″ pie shell, unbaked

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Whisk the ingredients together, pour into the pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes, approximately, until the pie is set in the middle. Let cool before serving and store refrigerated.

~Sarah

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