Saturday, November 02, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Passing on traditions and heritage recipes

Today's Pantry Post is a little different than normal as the turn of the calendar has me thinking of cooking and baking and past Holiday seasons.  Especially about passing down traditions and recipes to friends and family.

The subject of heirloom recipes was discussed with my daughter recently, specifically my mother's Thanksgiving dressing.  Perhaps no other American meal tends to be "set in stone" with heirloom recipes more than Thanksgiving.  But that is good... we need traditions in our fast paced life.

There are no changes in our Thanksgiving meal each year.  Except when my husband found out his future daughter-in-law made green bean casserole... which he loves and I do not... she now makes certain it is a part of any Holiday meals.  They like each other, can you tell?  ;)

The one meal each Season when I do try new recipes occurs on the day before Christmas.  Long ago I started having our Christmas Eve meal centered around various hors d'oeuvres and Christmas cookies... with only one item always making an annual appearance (that being my cherry cheesecake dessert). 

Now is the week to dust off those heirloom recipes which have been put away since last November or December and begin making a list of essential ingredients.  As we have been chatting... when purchased a little at a time, they do not hit the budget as one or two huge Holiday grocery shopping events tend to do. 

Checking the recipes now also makes it less likely to begin preparing a favorite Holiday dish, only to realize we are out of an ingredient we just knew was on the pantry shelf... been there!

It is also the week to check the use-by date on items like baking powder.  Even if the date is a few months off, if you have had it a long time replace it now.  Baking powder is inexpensive but the other ingredients are not, this is the time frugality means throwing something out and buying new so the end product is fabulous.

If you haven't already, begin to pass on recipes and traditions such as mother's turkey dressing recipe, or the way a grandmother prepared her pies, or how our family always serves a certain recipe because it reminds them of their ethnic heritage (although my husband was quite happy his father did not ask for Norwegian lutefisk after he married).

If a member of the older generation is still around, ask them about family recipes (and traditions) then write them down.  If you are the grandmother, write down the recipes.  Don't wait until next year.  If possible, include interested young people in the kitchen to show them how to make certain dishes. 

Have you ever wondered why your dressing or your pumpkin pie doesn't taste the same as your mother's?  Sometimes it is not the recipe itself that is different but how Mom or Grandmother (or Grandfather in some homes!) prepared it.  By showing instead of just writing... much can be learned.

My recipe card file(s)... I have three boxes of recipe cards with the one I use the most in the kitchen... contain numerous file cards easily recognized as typed out by my mother-in-law.   Long after a family member is no longer here, it is so nice to still have their recipes.

There is something about the taste and aromas of certain foods... especially during the Holidays... that bring to mind people and places and events like no other (with the possible exception of music). But if we don't share the recipes or make an attempt at keeping some traditions... they are lost in this generation.

I know in the rush of the Holiday season there is little or no extra time to think about passing them on.  But there is more time now for most families, at least more opportunity than we would find between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Preparation now can show up as peace later...

Artwork:  Cookbook and Apples:


Marge said...

I used to make a lot of heritage recipes, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, yes, even the lutefisk! But in recent years things have changed with the addition of type 1 diabetes, nut allergies, gluten free, dairy free, and numerous other intolerances. It's becoming a difficult task to create the heritage foods! Thank goodness the turkey, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are all still legal for everyone! (As long as you buy a gluten free turkey that hasn't been enhanced with gluten!)

Martha Ellen said...

Peace is what I always strive for around the holidays, Brenda. I so agree that heritage recipes are important to our holidays. I've tried for years to make my mother's sweet potato pie. She never used a recipe and always baked by feel and look! I'm sure she learned that from her mother, my nanny. I love to bake with my grands and they enjoy it so much, even if it makes a huge mess! Enjoy your weekend! ♥

mdoe37 said...

Thanksgiving will mean Clara's stuffing. You know its moist enough when it makes a certain "punk punk" noise when you pat it. (really!)

Passing heirloom recipes on is a sad subject for me. I'm the last of the line and I have no children. The SS and his wife, of course, really don't have much interest in my family's traditions. Maybe someone will adopt me as a grannie when I get older. :)

Vee said...

Ahhh, very true. i just bought new baking soda and baking powder. I wonder if there's anything to do with old baking powder. I always put the soda down the drain with some white vinegar. Somewhere on Pinterest there's a test for checking whether baking powder is good.

I know that my mother's tricks were either extra butter or extra sugar. What I don't know are amounts. i think family cooking sessions are brilliant.