Friday, April 29, 2011

Julie & Julia and Rebecca & Ruth

I loved the book/movie "Julie & Julia."  If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a blogger who decided to make one of chef Julia Child's recipes each day for a whole year.  Basically, she cooked her way through the entire cookbook and then blogged about it.  I thought that was a really neat premise, and I do own Julia Child's first cookbook, but I don't like a lot of the recipes in the cookbook.  We don't eat fish and some of the stuff was realllllly weird.  Plus, obviously, it's already been done.  But, it still lurks there in the back of my mind sometimes and today, it just decided to pop out.  You see, I come from a great family of cooks--my Grandma Sammon, both of my grandparents McGann, and my dad.  But, when I married Hubs, I "inherited" some more great cooks--both of my mother-in-laws and Todd's grandmother, Ruth. 

When we first got married, I wanted to make sure that I could cook Toddy some of his favorites.  So, I pumped all three ladies for information and got some great recipes, most of which we still use today.  I loved how Todd's Grandma loved collecting, exchanging and trying new recipes.  She always had something different and unique to try.  I really admired that about her.  Like I've said before, everyone in the family knows how much I love to cook, so it was a real honor for me to receive Ruth's recipe boxes and some of her cookbooks when she passed away.  One of the three boxes (the biggest) belonged to Ruth, one was from Ruth's mother, and the third was from Ruth's grandmother.

I admit that I kind of neglected the recipe boxes in favor of the cookbooks (I admit it, I am a recipe snob--I usually only like recipes with a photo!) for awhile, but I rediscovered during the kitchen renovation and really started thumbing through them.  It was an eye-opening revelation for sure.  Half of the recipes I had never heard of and the other half seemed to be given to her by other people.  I realized that the entire set of boxes was like a time capsule of recipes spanning from the late 1800s to the late 1980s-early '90s.  Some of them are really simple, some are slightly complicated, and some sound reallly calorific. 

Once again, I started thinking about "Julie & Julia," and thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be fun to cook all of the recipes in these boxes?"  So, that's what I'm going to do!  Of course, I would not even dare to try to cook a recipe a day like the blogger did in the movie (procrastinator alert!) but I do think it would be neat to do a couple a week/month and then share the results of these forgotten family favorites.  (Note to self:  good title, don't forget it!)

So, look for some unique recipes to come on here soon.  It will be an interesting journey.  By, the way, check out the size of this recipe box (Ruth's):

Each recipe card is either typed on a typewriter, or written out long-hand.  A lot of work!

As you can see, this might take me awhile!!!  Plus, there are still two other "normal" sized recipe boxes from Ruth's mother and grandmother.

Here's the first recipe we are going to try tonight:

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

4 C. diced rhubarb
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. water
1/4 C. shortening
1/2 C. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. milk

Cook rhubarb, sugar & water until tender.  Keep hot!  Cream shortening & sugar; beat in egg and vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients together, add alternatively with milk into creamed mixture.  Pour batter into greased 9" square baking pan.  Spoon hot rhubarb sauce over batter.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Serve warm with whipped cream.  A hand-written note says, "Great cold also!"  9 servings.

Now, here's a little anecdote about me & rhubarb.  If you're from New England like me, you are most likely familiar with rhubarb.  It grows well there and people can't get enough of the stuff.  People covet their rhubarb plants and very reluctantly share the plants' location.  When I lived in Nebraska, they referred to it as "Pie Plant."  Whatever.  I can't stand the stuff, and along with strawberries, I'm also allergic to it.  (Rash kind, not deathly, can't breathe, where's the EPI pen kind).

So, what do you think is my Hubs favorite dessert?  Of course--strawberry rhubarb pie.  Me, being the kind Homesteader's Wife that I am, gallantly donned rubber gloves (2 sets) and bravely picked 20 lbs. of strawberries last May and made 20 pint jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam.  Funny thing is, that was the first time I've ever made something but never tasted it.  Hubs & son must like it as they've been eating it all year.  (I only have a few jars left!)  I also occasionally make Toddy a strawberry-rhubarb pie, using his grandmother Ruth's recipe.  

When we visit Vermont, we usually have strawberry-rhubarb pie when we are at Todd's dad's house.  Shirley always makes one for Todd because she knows it's his favorite.  Last summer, she even taught him how to make one himself and he even learned how to weave a pie crust for the top.  Inevitably, while eating strawberry rhubarb pie, the Vermonters usually turn to a discussion of rhubarb and their favorite rhubarb recipes.  My brother-in-law Doug recalled eating a rhubarb cake that Todd's Grandma had made but nobody could seem to find the recipe.  I'm wondering if this is the recipe that is the Holy Grail of Rhubarb so that's why I'm going to try it out.  I'll let you know what Toddy says about it...I sure won't be eating any of it!

Til next time,

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