Monday, December 22, 2008

The old fashioned way

I always make Chex Party Mix for the holidays.

But I make it exactly the way my grandmother made it (except I cut it in half and add peanuts, per my notes at the top of the recipe below).

One of my most cherished possessions is a little black notebook filled with handwritten recipes that my grandmother gave me almost forty years ago. (In fact, during a recent family discussion about what we would grab in the event of a house fire, that little notebook was one of my items.)

Here is her recipe for Chex mix:

The pecans she used came from the pecan trees in her yard. She gathered every one of them herself and cracked them with a nutcracker which I now own and picked out the nut halves with a little nut pick that I now own.

I recently looked at the recipe on the back of the Chex box. Of course, they don't use Cheerios. And they use "bite size" pretzels instead of pretzel sticks. And they use BAGEL CHIPS (blasphemy).

But the worst thing is that they tell you to cook it IN THE MICROWAVE.

Notice that my grandmother cooks it in a very low oven for two hours.

Here is my grandmother. Her name was Ethel. Doesn't she look like an Ethel?
She always looked exactly like this. No older. No younger. Same style of dress. Same style of shoes. Same hairdo.

She lived in North Carolina her whole life.

The little notebook she gave me is mostly very Southern recipes.

Red Velvet cake. (You can see it is very much used - stained with red food coloring.):
Note: This is not the entire recipe. If anyone is actually considering making it, I'm happy to send the rest.)

Her "salads" were the old Southern standby: congealed salads.
She had many varieties.

And, of course, Sweet Potato Pie:


Lori Van Hoesen said...

I enjoyed these! Made me think of my own great grandmother's recipe cards. And why is it that all grandmothers seem to have similar handwriting? Hmm.

jama said...

I envy your little black notebook. What a treasure, indeed! Love the handwriting :). Happy Holidays!!

Anonymous said...

I have my aunt's covered majolica dish: lovely, but in it was a treasure trove of "receipts" ~ her word for recipes. Many were old favorites and in her handwriting or cut from the old Boston Globe "Confidential Chat" column. Although she was born Eleanor, we called her Aunt Dais, short for Daisy which was the nickname her 5 brothers used. It brings me back to childhood when I see them. JAZ

La Prof said...

my mom has a blue gingham recipe book that uses the exact same type of paper that i love and that has the best brownie recipe in the world! i think most people would fault the fact that the brownies don't actually cook though and have to be eaten with a spoon if you follow the recipe. i view it as an added perk. i think this same book also has mrs. mc-so-and-so's irish soda bread recipe, another family staple.

your grandmother's book is a real time capsule. i'd like to try the red velvet cake and sweet potato pie. i'm a little skeptical of the orange jello-shredded cheddar-canned pineapple concoction, but hey, you never know until you try, right?


Barbara O'Connor said...

Maria: the brownies sound perfect! I didn't post the whole red velvet cake receipt, but if you're really interested, I can send it. It is fabulous. BUT - the frosting she uses is a recipe called "Mystery Frosting." Ha! I can never manage to make it so it isn't gritty with sugar.

I dare you to try the orange jello thing for Xmas dinner.

Jennifer Thermes said...

These are wonderful, Barbara! I have bits of my grandmother's handwriting in old cookbooks and in a bird guide-- there's nothing like it to bring back her memory.

I'm going to have to try that Sweet Potato Pie. And about the gritty mystery frosting-- have you tried making it with confectioner's sugar?

Barbara O'Connor said...

Confectioner's sugar! Now that's a good idea.

I bet maybe that super fine sugar used for making drinks might work, too, now that I think of it.


La Prof said...

confectioner's sugar is the nectar of the gods.

i would love the red velvet cake recipe. i had a friend senior year of college who used to make it and it was yummy.

ask my mom to tell you about the brownies. they are mythic. she sent them to her friend karen one year when karen was in a dorm in france (hence the name "karen's brownies"). in high school, my friend darcy and i used had dreams of starting a bakery with 1000 different types of "brownies you eat with a spoon." we had a serious business plan and spent a lot of time testing different flavors by making brownies in muffin molds.

but enough about me . . . get back to your writing!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

What a treasure, Barb


Anonymous said...

As I recall, those brownies were sent to Karen in Tampax boxes because of ease of shipment. And, I thought the recipe originated with Karen (at least the recipe I have, which was never eaten with a spoon, but could be frosted if desired is). Maybe there are two favorite Brownie recipes out there??

Unknown said...

The brownies were sent to Karen in Tampax boxes because of ease of shipment. And, as I recall, the recipe originated with her (at least the one I have, which was never eaten with a spoon, but could be frosted if desired). Maybe there are two great brownie recipes out there??