Kitchen History

Often I look around my kitchen and see history. As I use utensils and recipes they remind me of someone who was near and dear to me. My recipe box is filled with recipes from loved ones. Now that I have two cookbooks I have to search to see what version I put a particular recipe in since I included many of them.

I have mentioned before but is pertinent here to mention that most of the recipes that I have from my grandmother are for baking. My grandmother was not a particularly great cook, but she sure could bake.

My mother-in-law on the other hand could do both. She cooked big meals for the men all of the time and they were delicious.

Goulash was something that both women made. Grandma always used spaghetti in her goulash. My mother-in-law used elbow macaroni. The goulash that I make is a combination of these two recipes. While I use elbow macaroni I also add some cheese which neither of the other women did. I developed my own recipe that my family liked. Here I should mention that my husband was not a fan of goulash — period.

When I was a guest in his home his mother often made goulash. It was in the oven so that it would be ready when she returned from grocery shopping with my sister-in-law. She always put out peanut butter and bread as well. That is the reason I thought my husband liked goulash.

After years of fixing goulash my husband said to me one night, “Do you realize that I do not like goulash?” I was shocked! I informed him that he was going to have to eat it because by now the children were very fond of it. Now every time that I make goulash I think of him.

Grandma made coffeecakes on many weekends. I am not sure how she made her topping but that I have not been able to reproduce. I have created my own topping, but it is not like hers. I do make rolls like she did. My favorite way to top rolls is to dip them in melted butter, then dip them in sugar and sometimes cinnamon.

Ethel, my mother-in-law, rolled her rolls into long rods then tied them into a knot. She sprinkled hers with cinnamon and sugar. My family has gotten used to the rolls that way.

When I mix up my dough in the large Tupperware bowl I think of Ethel since she is the one who taught me to use that.

I have a baking dish that I cook most of my meat in. Grandma won it during a radio contest. That is what she always used from that time forward. The pan is really heavy but I do not know what it is made of.

Of course most of you know the story about the daughter who always cut the end off of her roast before she put it into the pan. When she asked her mother about the reason for this procedure she was told, “That is the only way the roast fit into the pan.” The reason that I do many things is because that is how I learned to do them.

I still have a hand beater that I received as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law one year. I use it when I make instant pudding and to whip cream.

The rolling pin that I use belonged to my mother. It has a red handle and I know that means that it is old. That comes out every time we make cutout cookies and when I make a pie.

My breadboard is a large one with built up sides on three sides. My father-in-law made it for me the year we cut down one of the cottonwood trees in the yard. He also made one for my sister-in-law. There is a picture of us holding our new cutting boards.

Then there are the cookie cutters. I have many of my grandmother’s cookie cutters. I think of her each time I bake.

Up until I bought my big stand mixer I used an old grinder to grind ham for ham salad and to grind cranberries for relish. Now I put in the grinder that came with the mixer and I am all set. It is really much easier.

Another old fashioned utensil I use is a Moule grater. I use that to prepare carrots for carrot salad and to grind nuts. There is an assortment of blades so it works really well. It is also very easy to clean. I have also used it to grate cheese.

The glass pans in my cupboard came from my mother. She got them as wedding gifts since she was married during WWII.

The standard pans I use were a gift from one of my bridesmaids parents. I remember that the “big” Dutch oven seemed so large when I first started cooking. Eventually it was not big enough for the family.

Everywhere I look there is history. Each and every utensil means something to me. They all remind me of special people. I think I use nearly every utensil I have. Someday the children and grandchildren will be reminiscing about using these things at grandma’s house — and they will be talking about me!


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