At Home With Vivian: Internet party

Say, hey, good lookin’
Whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?
Hey, sweet baby
Don’t you think maybe
We could find us a brand new recipe?

Can’t you just hear Hank Williams singing that song? Got the melody stuck you your head now? Well, I do. But I’m not hearing Hank. I’m hearing my mother. That was one of the songs she would sing while cooking when she was in a good mood. I can still see the little tilt to her head and the twinkle in her eyes as she sang. When we kids came home to Mama singing, we knew it was going to be a great day.

I opened my email recently and found an “evite” to a wedding shower. My great nephew and godson Brian is marrying his gal, Jill, in June. I’m so happy for them. Two birds of a feather are going to make their nest together. But, like so many couples today, they have already started building that nest. They have accumulated all of the household items they need or want.

So what do you give to a couple who doesn’t need anything? And how do you send it to them when they live on the East Coast and their families live on the West Coast without pay an arm and a leg? My brilliant great nieces-in-law, Stephany and Casey, have it all figured out. They arranged an online wedding shower. Isn’t that clever!

My ‘evite’ announced a virtual ‘wedding shower’ would be held on Sunday, April 29th. Drop in at your leisure. Guests were asked to bring old family recipes or our favorites as gifts. Photos were encouraged. Stephanie and Casey will arrange the recipes into a book for the couple. Isn’t that a great idea? I love getting recipes from people. The recipes are generally tried and true.

But not always. Sometimes you get surprises. Like the time a friend gave me a handwritten copy of her recipe for a delicious cookie that I had tried and loved. Those cookies were to die for! I made them exactly as was written in the recipe but mine did not come out like hers. My cookies spread out and were flatter than pancakes. My friend apologized. Oops! She forgot the baking powder when she transcribed the recipe.

The day I found the online wedding shower invitation was the same day I finally had time to sit down and go through a box of quilting books I inherited from my Aunt Tootsie.

My mother’s kid sister, Aunt Tootsie, sewed and did embroidery clear up until she passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 93. Her daughter Alice invited my niece Robin and me to come up and help go through Aunt Tootsie’s sewing room. Robin is a quilter but she has more than her share of quilting books and magazines. I am not a quilter, but have been asked by my three kids to please make them each a quilt. So, I came home with a gazillion quilt books and magazines to browse through.

CookbooksTucked between quilt books, I found six old paper back cookbooks. One cookbook was dated 1941. Another looked much older. “Cupid’s Book” was printed by “Merchants and Manufacturers whose names appear in this book” from Oakland. “This book is presented free to the Bride and Groom with the compliments of the advertisers therein, who make such presentation possible.” I could find no printing date, but the telephone number of the Pacific Nash Motor Company was Lakeside 7100. And there was an ad for Rhodes-Jamieson & CO. Coal. I don’t know who previously owned this book, but I suspect it was my grandmother’s.

Cookies made from the found recipes. The recipes must be nearly 70-80 years old.

The coolest thing about finding these old cookbooks wasn’t the cookbooks themselves. When I picked up the cookie booklet, a hand full of cuttings and handwritten recipes fell out. Honest to goodness handwritten recipes! The only problem was that there were no names on them. My mother, aunts and grandmother all had similar handwriting. I took a picture of a couple of recipes and emailed it to my cousin and my older sister. Yes, they agreed, the handwriting was indeed similar – which didn’t help at all in determining who wrote the recipe or where it came from in the first place. I’m pretty sure it’s not my mother’s handwriting. But it could have been Aunt Ruby’s as her name was on one of the books. But Aunt Tootsie owned the books, so it could be hers. But then again, she inherited my grandmother’s books, so it could be my grandmothers! What the heck. I decided to make the cookies anyway.

The first recipe for Drop Nut Cookies came out perfectly. Tasty and a little crunchy. I will do it again. The second recipe for, Ginger Raisin Cookies, came out with more of a cake like consistency. My husband said they were good.

Well, you probably can already tell which recipes amongst others that I emailed to my great-niece to be. Yep. I sent her a typewritten, up to date version and a photo of the old recipes. I hope she likes them. I did. And you can too. The recipes are below.

Drop Nut Cookies

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. warm water with
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts

Cream shortening with brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, well beaten eggs, warm water with soda dissolved in it, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add flour, then raisins and walnuts. Drop by spoonful on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Raisin Ginger Cookies

¼ cup shortening
½ cup brown sugar
1 well beaten egg
1 cup raisins
1 ½ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup sour milk
1/3 cup molasses

Cream shortening, add sugar. Beat well. Add egg and raisins to creamed shortening. Sift remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Then add molasses and liquid gradually, beating well. Drop from spoon on greased pan some distance apart. Moderate oven (350)

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