12.08.2010

From Mom's Kitchen

Well, it is finally done.  The reissue of my mother's cookbook (the original created 22 years ago for my family after she passed away) was a true labor of love.  When I started the project, it was a chance to have my own personal "Julie and Julia" journey using my mother's recipes.  This is not Mastering the Art of French Cooking, although Mom, like Julia Child, was liberal with her butter usage.  I have to say that I dreaded that particular tally; in the end, I went through at least 62 sticks of butter (15.5 pounds) in testing all these recipes in a very short period of time - and that is only if I tested them once.  Frightening.  When I share that statistic, some friends are appalled at how much butter we consumed, while others are surprised (saddened? disappointed?) that it wasn't four times that amount.

But, it didn't matter. It was so much fun for me to test, photograph and remember.  There were times when my memories took my by surprise - I found myself in my mother's kitchen, hearing her voice through the aromas and tastes from my kitchen.  There were dishes I didn't recall that I liked or even how they tasted until I cooked them for the book.  The memories of taste and smell are so powerful.  As soon as I bit into the Barbecued Pork Tenderloin (pictured above) or the Blueberry Pie, I was transported back to my childhood.

What an adventure Mark and I had trying all these culinary creations.  There were certain ones that I didn't like as a child, like the Apple Squire (pictured above), that I enjoyed very much as an adult.  I remember loving some dishes that, in general, I would not make now - out of culinary snobbery - because they use a can of (gasp!) vegetable soup (see the photo of the Meat Ball Soup below).  But I had to test each recipe and found the ones with 'cans of soup' pretty amazing, even as a food-snob adult.  With all the recipes, I continually second-guessed myself, asking, "Do I like this because it is really good?  Or, is it because Mom made it and, thus, I love it?"  The true test would be how Mark reacted.

Mark was my culinary Switzerland.  Sadly, he never met my mother but that did put him at the advantage of being neutral about the results.  Everything that I made, he tried.  And, other than the recipe I mention in the next paragraph, he liked them all and enjoyed every bite of his own personal 7.75 pounds of butter.


There was only one recipe that got tossed from the original book and neither of us liked it.  I made it once before I met Mark (disaster) and once in preparation for the book (another disaster).  It was my Nana's apple cake.  Both times it was an oily, oozing mess.   I checked the original recipe card and I had made no errors.  Then I compared the recipe to several on the Web and they were all basically the same.  It was just awful.  The first time I made it, I recall breading slices of the cake and frying them (without any extra grease) to see if that helped.  Nope.  So this is the one recipe that will not go on to the next generation.  (They can thank me later.)

This project was, naturally, something I did for myself and my family.  In the process, though, many friends and readers have asked about purchasing copies.  I published - er, self-published - with Blurb.  This makes it simple in some ways but does make it more expensive, as each book is printed with each order.  If you are interested in buying a copy, you can go click on the link here - From Mom's Kitchen -  where you can also preview a few pages of the book. 

If you are inclined to create a book like this yourself, I highly encourage it, especially if the family chefs - your mother and father, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles - are still alive.  It would give you such an opportunity to share family stories that, with age, I have forgotten.  And it is a very special way to preserve your family's culinary history.

From Mom's Kitchen will never be a best-seller; that wasn't the plan.  Nor is it a definitive tome of the world’s best recipes; it is simply a collection of recipes that were always made with love.

- David

Blueberry Pie

pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie
2 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 450ºF.  Wash blueberries and remove stems.  Mix berries with sugar, flour and lemon juice, and place in bottom crust; dot with butter.  Put top crust on fruit and crimp.  Brush with milk and slash with a knife.  Bake for 10 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Serves 8.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations on redoing the book. What a wonderfully sweet tribute to you Mum, and an outstanding achievement. I think it must have been your own Jule & Julia moment...beautiful!

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  2. Deeba - thank you so much. I t was a real joy and I expect you will be seeing recipes from the book from time to time on the blog. Look forward to seeing your blog in a few minutes! David

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  3. Your project is an inspiration to all, especially those of us fortunate enough to grow up in the kitchen or at the table--or both--with family and friends. With each meal, the memories flow forth. Beautiful book.

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  4. Thanks, Susan. How beautifully you said this - that we were, indeed, fortunate. Looking forward to your next post...

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  5. David, so there I am and I had no idea that you penned a cookbook or two or even more - what a true labor of love! I am jealous (in a real positive way, of course) of all the fabulous family recipes that you own - what a truly wonderful heritage! And what a wonderful way of honoring your mom! How I whish I had one, just one little handwritten recipe card from my beloved grandma Klara!
    We are in the midst of a heatwave around here - es ist sooo warm hier - as soon as it cools down just a bit, we will go blueberry picking and then I will remember your mum´s recipe for Blueberry Pie.
    Euch noch ein schönes Wochenende und liebe Grüße.

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    1. Andrea - those recipe cards are among my favorite things in the world. It is as if my mother, my aunt, and grandmothers are with me in the kitchen.

      So sorry about the heatwave - I am not a fan of heißes und schwüles Wetter... I hope you get to make a blueberry pie!

      Große Umarmungen von Tucson

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