She never wrote them down, apparently and when she 'lent' people her recipes, she always left out an ingredient. So the story goes.
In some ways, this proves that she actually thought the recipes were the reason why her breads and scones and such turned out so well.
But I doubt it.
The picture above is of a bunch of very oily and spotty file cards with recipes typed on them: Banana Bread, Chicken Mole, Grapefruit Cake, Cream Puffs, Beef Stroganoff, Cranberry Aspic.
There are my mother's recipes and I helped her type out the cards possibly in 1970, when I was in the tenth grade. That's when I learned to type at school and the many typos on some of the cards proves I was not yet proficient. Babbabas and Rimove from Stove and pistashio nuts.
I discovered the cards two summers ago at my mother's death. Hidden in a secret drawer in a Chinese Cabinet.
I sent her away with one recipe in her hand. I seem to recall it was for Shoo Fly Pie - my favorite dessert in my child hood, after Cafe Bavarian which either never made it to a card, or got lost. (My mother spent a lot of time trying to replicate this fabulous recipe (found inside the label of a Carnation Milk can) but never could.
And even with all the culinary information available on the Internet today, I haven't been able to either.
But I digress.
The recipe for this Cafe Bavarian dessert may have been a bit complicated, but the recipe Shoo-Fly Pie was a simple one. All the other recipes on the cards, for Lemon Pudding Cheesecake, Scalloped Potatoes, Lasagna, French Chocolate Pie (mostly found in era magazines) are extremely uncomplicated. Life was simpler back then, and so was food.
My mother was French Canadian, so I ate better than many of my other Anglo friends, what can I say? (I hated the aspic, but never told her. Aspics were so 1920's anyway. And the chicken mole wasn't a favorite either. But the Southern Fried Chicken attracted the neighbourhood kids to our door at dinner time. And the Lemon Shaum Torte (my brother's favorite it is marked on the card) was a dream of a confection. (It had next to nothing in it! Egg whites, cream of tartar, icing sugar, cornstarch sugar, egg yolks, lemon and butter.)
I recall that our food baskets, in either the grungy A and P or the new Steinberg's, both on Queen Mary Road were always filled to the brim and she spent about 60 dollars a time, much ot my father's displeasure. (That's how I remember it. Seems like an awful lot of money.)
My mother, brought up rich and educated at Sacred Heart Convent, was useless at home economy, much to my father's chagrin.
No, we waded through mess to get to the kitchen table, but once we got there it was always a good thing.
My mother was also bi-polar (not that we called it that) and miserable, so life wasn't great back then. We were an unhappy family. Food was the only way she could show her love.
But her peanut butter cookies made up for the crazy, uncomfortable home-life, a bit, anyway. I can recall helping her stamp them down with a fork, giving each cookie three ridges, and the salty good aroma of them as they cooled on the rack in the kitchen.
We liked her baking so much, she often put an image of a skull and crossbones on her Mint Chocolate or Lady Baltimore Cakes, to remind us not to eat it. And yet, we were were all skinny. (Like all other 60's kids, we played outdoors a lot. And there wasn't all those additives in foods.)
I think I'll try the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies for old time's sake.
There are thousands of interesting peanut butter cookie recipes on the Web, but none as good as this one.
1/2 cup of non oily peanut butter
1/2 cup Crisco and butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cut white sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg well-beaten.
I'll try it, but it won't turn out that great, I can tell you now. There's an ingredient missing here, but I'm not quite sure what it is.