Miss Sandy of Quill Cottage is hosting an “I Remember Laura” blogathon on Mondays through the month of June in memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author if the “Little House” series of books. There will also be an art swap going on each week in connection with the theme: Click on the picture for more information. Also throughout the month she will be sharing parts of an interview with Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore, a descendant of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I have so been enjoying this blogathon! Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books have been among my favorites for years, and I have had fun remembering events of her life. I even have two other books by and about her that have been on my shelves for years that I am inspired to dust off and get into. And quilts and buttons are some of my favorite crafty subjects. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s responses each week!
I will enjoy this week, too, even though I am sadly lacking in the subject of family recipes. My own mother wasn’t terribly domestic in the first place, and with working full time and more and commuting across Houston, she just didn’t have a lot of time or energy or interest in making dinner (and I wouldn’t have either!) We had a lot of convenience foods and basic, simple things. So I don’t remember much in the way of special family recipes. I do remember that one of her specialties when she had time was a pot of beans. That may sound funny — beans aren’t special to most people. But I grew up on beans and rice and cornbread — usually pinto beans, but sometimes Northern. She seasoned them just very basically with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. When I was little she was often asked to bring her beans to gatherings, and for those she sometimes put jalapeños in them, which I didn’t care for, personally.
I spent a lot of time with my father’s mother as I was growing up, and I remember her as the classic Granny with an apron on and cooking all the time, but I don’t remember any distinctive dishes except for pumpkin bread made in coffee cans. My mother’s mother passed away when I was about four, so I have very little memory of her. I do remember discovering a recipe of hers for some kind of cinnamon coffee cake when I was a teen-ager and first learning to cook that I loved and made a lot. But somehow that little recipe card in her handwriting got lost. That’s been one of the saddest losses to me both because it was a good recipe and because it was hers. Last fall my step-father and sisters brought up several things that had been in a trunk for us to sort through and see if there was anything we wanted. One of the items was my mother’s baby book which had these two recipes in them.
One is for Golden Pumpkin Bread and one is for Lemon Pie. I haven’t made either of them yet. I have wondered how often they were made if they were tucked in a baby book…unless my grandmother shared my penchant for tucking papers into odd places (and then forgetting where they were put…). The one on the right for Lemon Pie looks well-used and looks like my grandmother’s handwriting. I am happy to have them because they were hers.
I remember being impressed with the way Laura’s family used everything when they butchered an animal, even a pig’s bladder to be remade into a ball to toss! Industriousness is one of the traits I admire most in pioneer and colonial women. Once when we were at a place where people were dressed and acting out life in this era, I remember watching food being cooked in fireplaces over an open fire and wondering how in the world they ever made things to the right degree of doneness and got everything ready at the same time..and then it would have been so hot to cook that way, especially in the summer time! Even stoves that you built a fire into would have been hard to regulate. And dealing with food while they traveled in a covered wagon — I don’t know how they did it!
One recipe I do have from my mom is for Surprise Jello.
1 large package lime Jello
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup pecans
1 small can fruit cocktail
Handful miniature marshmallows
Prepare Jello as directed on package. Drain fruit cocktail and combine with coconut, pecans, and marshmallows: add to Jello and chill. Makes 8-10 servings.
I don’t really care for coconut, but I like it ok in this recipe. It could be left out if desired, as could the pecans if anyone is allergic to or doesn’t like nuts.
My own boys have already told me they want some of my recipes when they leave home. Here are a couple of family favorites:
Chicken Enchilada Bake
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces, or around 9 chicken tenderloin pieces, cooked and cut into small pieces
1 pint sour cream
3/4 lb. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded
6 flour tortillas or 8 corn tortillas
1 small can green chilies, diced (optional)
Mix soup, sour cream, chicken, chilies, and half the cheese, Tear tortillas into bite-size pieces and stir into chicken mixture. Pour into casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Or, leave off the remaining cheese, microwave for about 3 minutes, stir, top with remaining cheese, and microwave for another 3 minutes.
Pudding Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pkg. (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine butter, sugars, pudding mix, and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs. Mix flour with baking soda. and gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes (mine usually take 10-12 minutes). I used to add chocolate chunks or miniature Hershey’s kisses just for something different, but I haven’t been able to find those lately.
You can find other participants sharing family recipes (or join in!) here at Quill’s Cottage.