Country Kitchen: Journaling Your Food Memories

Country Kitchen: Journaling Your Food Memories
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I glanced through a catalog from an old-fashioned country store and found items that evoked memories of days ago. The pictures of cooking ingredients and utensils made me recall recipes and foods of childhood and the years between then and now.
"Mom, write down your memories," my daughter often has exclaimed.

These items can be more than simply inanimate pieces of pottery or recipes. They have stories connected to them that are part of one's family heritage.

Types of Journals

You'll discover a variety of ways to develop journals and preserve food memories.

*These might be simply notes and recipes on paper that you tuck into a file until you decide to do something different.

*They might be written down in a notebook you designate especially for these memories.

*You might add sketches and photos to the stories.

*A scrapbook album also is a good place to combine these stories and photos.

*A notebook in which you write current food happenings.foods tried from the past, new ones you're cooking today. You're making memories and establishing a food heritage and traditions all the time.

*Perhaps you have a journal or blog on your computer where you can jot down these memories as well as daily happenings.

Items Found in the Catalog That Stirred Memories

*The illustration of the Electric Turnover Toaster brought to mind the first toaster I recall using when I was a child. It had a chrome finish, a door on each side and heating coils in between. You opened the door, laid a slice of bread on it, then closed the door. When it was time to toast the other side, you opened the door and the bread slid down onto it with the untoasted side facing up.

Then you closed the door again to finish toasting. This toaster held a slice of bread on each side. You did have to watch it closely to prevent burning since there was no timer on the toaster.

When not using this toaster, we placed slices of bread inside a rack with handles and held it over the top of the woodstove. Mother taught us to make grilled cheese sandwiches with the wire rack, too.

*The usual covering for our kitchen table was the Oilcloth. This was made when canvas was treated with varnish. These table coverings came in a variety of designs from gingham, plain colors, to floral and fruit designs.

As I recall, they were cut to length from a roll at the general store. When the one we were using became cracked and began to peel with age, Mother selected a new one.

Oilcloth went out of favor when plastic tablecloths that wouldn't crack (but would tear easily) came into vogue. However, I did find that oilcloth coverings are available in some stores carrying old-fashioned goods.

Making Your Own Memories

Look at your everyday tasks, the ingredients you're using, and the items that come into play with your cooking and homemaking. These may be obsolete in years to come so jot down notes about them and how they affect your family. They may become part of your family heritage.

Keep an idea book or scrapbook of these memories and your family recipes.

Recipe From the Past

In mentioning cheese sandwiches above, a recipe that my aunt made came to mind. This was for BAKED CHEESE SANDWICHES, one of my favorite supper dishes when I visited her and grandmother.

Prepare 4 cheese sandwiches and butter both sides. Place these in a buttered baking dish. Cover each with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.

Beat 3 eggs with 2 cups milk, ½ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pour over cheese sandwiches.

Place baking dish in a pan of water. Bake at 350 degrees F. about 40 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the top is browned. Serve with tossed salad or cole slaw.

Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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