Country Kitchen: Cook-to-Cook Letter Writing

Country Kitchen: Cook-to-Cook Letter Writing
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My family has consisted of letter writers throughout the years.  I’vefound letters from mother to daughter or brother to sister, dating back 100 years.  Ihave reams of my mom’s and my correspondence after I married and lived away from home.
In many of the family letters, especially those my grandmother and mymomwrote, I find mention of foods cooked, meals prepared, recipes shared. My grandmother,who lived with my mom’s sister, often told about Auntie’s bread baking,butter churning,canning, pickling, jam making.  This was part of their daily life.

Since Nanny was an invalid, she didn’t go out much.  But she didentertain the many friends who visited.  When someone stopped by, they must have atleast a cup of tea if they didn’t stay for a meal.So Nanny often wrote about the  foods Auntie prepared for theseoccasions as well as for their daily meals.

A Mother Recipe Collector

My mom’s letters throughout the years, when I lived in Texas,California, Colorado, and New Hampshire overflowed with tales around foods.  She alsoclipped recipes from magazines and newspapers to send me.Even though she was a busy woman, operating a small grocery store andcooking meals for husband and sons working on the farm, she found time to enjoyher cooking.  She’d tell me what she prepared for them and of the cookies, pies, andcakes she bakedfor the little bakery in her store.

Shared Recipes & New Foods

In my travels and life in other parts of the country, I encounteredrecipes we hadnever eaten when I was growing up.  Mother was fascinated by them andwanted to knowhow they were prepared.

I’m not sure my dad and brothers appreciated some of these foods, butMotherwas always willing to try something new.  She also encouraged us to atleast try a bite ofa different dish as we were growing up.

Encouraged My Cooking Column

Because of Mother, I’ve been writing my "Country Kitchen" column fornewspapers for more than 30 years.  She learned a newspaper was startingup in ourhometown in New York State and suggested to the publisher/editor that Iwould write acooking column for him.So my "Country Kitchen" column evolved and later the editor asked me towrite aweekly column about antiques and collectibles.

Your Letter Writing

You may find that your letters to and from friends and family membersoftenmention food prepared or meals enjoyed when dining out.  Research intofoods of daysago may take you to old letters and journals in which, midst other eventsin their lives,the letter writers mention foods prepared and enjoyed.

Among dishes my family has always enjoyed is:

AUNT FREDA’S ICE BOX COOKIES - Cream 1/2 scant cup shortening with 1unbeaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Stir in 1 cup brown sugar (or 1/2cup brown and1/2 cup white).  Sift together 1 1/2 flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir into creamed mixture.When mixed, form into a roll and wrap with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Putinto refrigerator for one day.  Slice and bake on greased cookie sheet at350 degrees F.for about 10 minutes.  
(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

The Country Kitchen Series

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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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