here and there

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Memories and traditional recipes

Interesting how a lot of memories are based around people and food. As I reflected on entering a traditional recipe for Recipe Box in our local paper, a dear elderly cousin in Thunder Bay passed away. I was there last March to visit her and my Aunt and greatly enjoyed their home cooking, sharing of recipes and reliving their memories as we looked at pictures. All their meals were made fresh and from scratch. My cousin cooked and baked until the very end. Lunch time was a busy place as her family dropped in to enjoy the pot of soup on the stove and the supply of home made cookies and muffins in her freezer that were constantly refilled. It made me re-evaluate my style of cooking since there are only the two of us, I have had difficulty downsizing! My cousin made good use of her freezer as she froze small portions which could quickly accommodate the number she had for lunch. As a senior, she had adjusted well to using her freezer to freeze small amount whereas previously this same freezer had frozen meals for her family of eight. It was not uncommon to see her making a batch of spaghetti in her canner!

At first, I was going to enter a favourite recipe that my grandmother gave to a neighbour who later gave the recipe back to my Mom. My Mom made the recipe for me which I recognized as my Grandmother’s recipe, a cookie recipe made with lard and sandwiched with a date filling. I loved them hot!

However on reflecting how recipes are passed on, not only in the family but between friends and were often found in cookbooks or in different provinces. As I was making a scrapbook for my brother’s 50th, I came across some of my Mom’s handwritten recipes. They were written on scraps of paper like the back of an envelope. A lot of her recipes had no titles or method. A popular cookbook in the seventies in Manitoba was the Steinbach Mennonite cookbook that I received as shower gift. Many of my Mom’s recipes were found in this book but this cookbook also did not included very detailed method in their recipes, if any. Favourite recipes were passed from one another in prairies and these recipes have become part of one’s memories and traditions in growing up in the Prairies. .

The recipe I would like to share is vine torte which I love. When we lived in Winnipeg, a friend of mine from Gilim, Manitoba would have her mom make it for me as a gift, a delicious piece of black and white ribbon like layer cake. Her mom called it the Icelandic Cake and gave the recipe to me, which I decided to make for our first Christmas at home with a new baby. As I was making the cake and rolling out all the piece of the torte and placing them on cookie sheets to bake (I wouldn’t go into the mess I was making), I suddenly had a memory of my grandmother making this cake, along with the delectable smell of these cardamom flavoured cakes as they came out of the oven. I phoned my Mom to find out if Grandmother had made this cake as my Mom did not, and yes, she had but called it a prune torte. In her recipe, she used Cardamom which gives it a wonderful sweet pungent aroma. I make it every Christmas holiday and think of my grandmother....

Today, our waitress in Open Sesame could hardly wait to start her Christmas Baking tonight. She was making three of her Mom’s favourite Christmas recipes, one being Shortbread, as were her two friends. The three friends would divide their treasures between each other. How wonderful!.. Once again treasured recipes and memories will be passed on by the three friends to be enjoyed for years to come

Happy baking, Merry Christmas….

MARY STADNYK’S SPRINGTIME PUFFED OMELETTE Although although my cousin did submit pictures they are only in the paper and not on line.

At the same time, I found out that Mary's grandchild Nicole has a blog..the cooking tradition is continued!

Prune Torte

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 tablespoon milk
4 cups sifted flour
1 Tsp cardamom
2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar, add the egg and milk. In another bowl, sift together 2 cups of flour, cardamom and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to first mixture, Take remaining flour and gradually add until you have a dough stiff enough to roll. Divide dough into 7 – 8 equal parts. I cut out my dough on the cookie sheet using an 8 or 9 inch cake pan as the template. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and layer with prune fillings.

Prune filling
1 pound of prunes (boiled and mashed)
½ cups of sugar (optional or to taste)
I add 1 -2 tablespoons of rum to the mixture.

Mix together and put prune filling between the layers of cake.

This cake needs to mellow. The cookie base becomes soft and moist and easy to cut. Once it is mellow, this cake freezes well. Cut in small pieces as very rich.