Cooking is a book of life I can refer back to. I love looking through my grandmother’s old cookbooks, or to rummage through yellowed scraps of paper with scribbled notes of treasured “receipts” from friends.
What I don’t understand is their terminology; what is a dollop? A pinch or a smattering? It seems that a handful of chopped nuts was enough, and you could just add a sprinkle of something to finish it off.
I became hungry for a taste of Aunt Georgia’s Hot Milk Cake the other day and found the recipe she had written for me when I was about twelve years old. I tucked away everything I have learned through the years about baking and began.
The milk is heated until hot but not too hot. OK, I’ve got that. The usual flour, sugar and baking powder were pretty clear too. Boy, is this going to taste good. Then add butter the size of a walnut. What!! Using my skills as a sculptor, I carefully molded a walnut. That is not easy ecause I buy my walnuts already cracked. When we were poor I promised myself that when I could afford them I would never sit on the floor and crack a bag of walnuts again. I’ve been buying cracked walnuts for a very long time now.
After putting all the ingredients together in what looked like a cake batter, I dipped a finger in and tasted it. It was blah, so I added a little vanilla, and it was much better.
When I went to put it into the oven, the instructions told me to bake it in a “nice warm oven until it was done”.
I took out some old recipes of Grandma’s, and one sounded as if it might be a good sauce on the cake. She wrote in her own hand in red ink several different versions of cherry sauce. Then she wrote” spiced cherries are nice too—no recipe though. At the end she wrote: “Don’t let me forget to send you my black berry jam. It’s in the Kerr canning book.”
Her notes are still so dear to me, and she did turn out some delicious food—-written measurements or not.
And by the way, the cake was pretty lousy. Not at all the way I remembered it from my childhood. Maybe you had to be there.
I think every generation has memories of warm kitchens with our mothers, grandmothers and other women we have loved cooking the food which nourished not only our bodies but gave us memories to last all of our life.