Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lost Treasure and Gramma's Cookbooks

Gramma was an amazing cook.  I don't remember her ever using a cookbook as a little girl.  She measured things by pinches, handfuls, saucers and cupfuls (meaning tea cup!).  She made the best chocolate buttercream frosting I've ever tasted, melt in your mouth southern fried chicken and she cranked out pies that were to die for...seriously!

When she passed away and I was cleaning out her house, I found her cookbooks and her "receipt box".  She  had three "boughten" cookbooks. Here's one of them...

It doesn't show up well in this picture but the cover is a shiny silver (I prefer that red and white one - how about you?)!  I was given a Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook when I got married decades ago.   My mother also passed me her old copy when she upgraded to the newest version...I passed that one on to my daughter-in-law who is an amazing cook herself.  

Gramma's book was from...

They had a great marketing plan back then.  Apparently, they put an addition to your cookbook in every Better Homes & Garden Magazine...

and my Gramma's book was full of them, although she forgot to trim the edges!

This is a project for a rainy afternoon - you can't see the tabs in the cookbook because of these inserts!

One of her other "boughten" cookbooks was this one....from the 1940's...

I thought this page in the back was a hoot!

Having spent the last 8 weeks with my canner continually, I don't think I'd use the word "pleasant" in reference to canning!  In reading some of the recipes, I can assure you that times have changed in the canning department!  You can also see that people back then were much more patriotic and frugal!

Gramma had several small paperback cookbooks.  I think "The New Art" came with her first electric stove...much easier than that wood cookstove!  There were two "Mary Dunbar" cookbooks from the Jewel Tea Company. Gramma used a lot of Jewel products...and they delivered right to your door! 
There was also a cookbook that her local church put together.

This book came from the American Stove Company and cost a dollar! It was printed in 1930. Gramma would have been 27 at that time.  

I wonder if the scribbles in this book were from my father or his brother....

I love these old cookbooks - this was back when women cooked from scratch!  I don't like a recipe that says get a can of this, a box of that and add a bottle of salad dressing....what's up with that?  That's not cooking - that's combining!

Then there was her "receipt" box.  They weren't recipes back then - they were receipts.

This is an old wooden fruit box - Gramma made do with everything.  Receipts were written on scraps of paper, boxes were reused...times were tight and she saved every penny she could.

I found recipes in her handwriting, my Grandpa's writing, my great Aunt Genevieve's writing (always in green and a beautiful script!), my Mom's and even a few in my own writing!  This box was filled with handwritten receipts and those clipped from the local paper which are amazing to read.
Many were written on scraps of paper, butcher paper, packing paper etc.  
Waste not want not was in full force in Gramma's house.

But the most wonderful thing of all is that I found something that was amazing treasure!

Gramma's reciept for her pie crust!
Gramma made the easiest, tastiest, flakiest pie crust you've ever tasted.  
I used to make a lot of pies...until I lost her recipe.
I tried other recipes - nothing was as flaky as Gramma's! Most were hard and tasted like cardboard.

Gramma made enough dough at a time for 4 pies. Back then you cooked in quantity!
The best part is that you can freeze what you don't use for the next time you want to make a pie.

Guess what I've been doing since I found her recipe again?

Coconut Custard

French Silk Supreme

and my boys are loving it!

Next post I'll share my Gramma's pie crust receipt and all the rules she taught me about baking pie crust!

Trust me, use this "receipt" and people will be amazed at your flaky tender crust!

Just don't tell them how easy it is....promise?


  1. What a wonderful treasure you have. I got my Mom's recipes and books. I go through them and there are some in her handwriting, some in my Grandma's. I love it, but often end up weeping too.

  2. What a fabulous treasure! I'm in the process of getting to a paperless (minus books) kitchen, so my recipes are going into a blog. But you can bet when I get to the hand written copies from my mother, THOSE I'm keeping! :)

    Praying you share that French Silk Supreme recipe too. WOW!

  3. Indeed a treasure. I have my Grammy's cookbook. Pages battered and earmarked. I love to sit with a cup of coffee and look at it. Looking forward to the pie crust receipt. I can't make pie crust with a hoot. I've tried. It wasn't eatable. Hubby had the nerve to spit it out in the trash..right in front of me. That was the last time I made a pie.


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