So after reading this last post, mom decided that if she was going to come up and visit for Thanksgiving, that she was going to bequeath to me a little bit of culinary history. She went into the attic and after much treasure hunting recovered the object she wished to find.
My grandmother's recipe files. Yellowed with age, stained, marked and retooled with a pen after use, a bountiful plethora of homey, American recipes from the California Central Valley and the little hidden nest of Ojai. Each little note card contains one recipe, hand written or type via an old Remington Rand, or displays some various magazine or newspaper clipping perfectly adhered to the card.
And not just a few recipes... cookies, veal, crab meat, salads, cakes, BBQ, and every other little sub-category that any grandmother had in her veritable secret stockhouse of recipes was here.
Ojai Grandma was a very worldly person, as I've told you before. However, I never really experienced the full gambit of her cooking. I remember a vague chicken dish covered in cream of mushroom sauce which I don't doubt came from a can. I recall that every morning she served us a bowl of Lucky Charms and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. She would warn us in her scratchy smoker's voice to "Drink your o.j. first before the marshmallow cereal or your o.j. will taste bitter and sour." My brother and I wouldn't listen and we would of course be choking down the now bitter juice. She enjoyed her toast burnt black. She had a huge pomegranate tree which never was used. She cooked an awesome dish of hand shredded green beans with almonds and a bit of soy sauce. But never had I been served 95% of the dishes in this box, but my mom recalls them all. So now I have to discover them myself, and it'll only be some distorted mirror image of them, like the squatty self you see in a carnival house of mirrors, real, but not authentic. They'll never be as grandma made them, but they'll be as close as I can get. Still, cooking and recipes evolve and pay homage to our history. (Who sees a sociology paper topic here?).
In these long, steel boxes were my family's history and kitchen lore now passed down to me. I'll definitely try to go through a few of these, and post the results and recipes here because history doesn't mean anything if nobody knows about it.