Saturday, November 14, 2009


Do you love recipes? Well, I guess everyone likes them, OK. It is hard to cook new things without something as a guide. Recipes sort of are necessary, but maybe not something you ever thought about whether you love it or not. I love them. OK, not all recipes. There are some that are hard and call for things like cream of tartar, which I have never had in my life. But looking for a recipe in cookbooks can be fun. I especially like Army cookbooks. Lots of us army gals like to put together cookbooks as fundraisers. The coolest thing about them is that they have it all. When you take folks from the four corners of the world and put all their ideas together, you have quite a collection. Momma told me right after we got married to ALWAYS buy every army cookbook I came across. For real, her favorite cookbook ever is an 8th Infantry Division cookbook that she got when she and Daddy were in Germany. I shudder to think of all the delicious things we would have never tasted had she not invested in this little gem. So I have cookbooks from Ft. Stewart and Ft. Bragg and Vilseck, Germany and Heidelberg, Germany - all chock full of precious recipes passed on from awesome women from all over the place that all have one thing in common - being married to the army! One time, I was searching for a supper idea and found (and cooked) a recipe in a cookbook from Germany. It was placed in there by someone years ago, and we happened to be stationed together in Georgia! Small army, right?

Anyway. I have not told you the reason I love recipes. See, a lot of my family recipes have been passed down. And my Great grandmother, whom everyone just calls Granny was the creator of many of these precious family treasures. She made them up! She tried different things until she came up with THE recipe. So sometimes when I am making one of them, I get a warm fuzzy thinking of this Granny that I never even got to meet, adding the same ingredients to a bowl and making the same thing that I am making. And Mimi in her kitchen, after learning from her mother, making this pie or cake. And Momma, after learning it from Mimi, has taught it to me. Warm fuzzies and maybe even chills! It is a way that we will all connect through space and time. Wow, right?

And my Momma, just after I got married came to visit David and me at Ft. Eustis, VA. She brought with her a small handful of recipes that she had copied down for me. Things she said she thought I might like to have. And the best part is that she added commentary. So I have these treasured recipes, in my Momma's handwriting, with her little comments. Like "chop them big, so David can pick them out" or "I just use evaporated milk" or "to make buttermilk, just add a tsp. of white vinegar to milk." Little tips that she would tell me if we were making whatever it was together. And because of that, we sort of are together, you know?

My first time cooking a real Thanksgiving supper, as I have said before, I was in Germany. As the date approached, I was getting nervous. The summer before, I was at her house while David was deployed, and we did a practice Thanksgiving. We made the whole feast in June, so I could practice. But still, I was so far away and I was worried. I had TONS of questions. Momma had just started e-mailing and figuring out computers. So to answer my questions, she took notebook paper and hand wrote all of the answers to my questions. Then had Daddy scan the handwritten pages and e-mail them to me in Bamberg, Germany. They got me through, and I think we had a pretty darned good dinner. To this day, I have those handwritten notes in one of my cookbooks. And every time I cook a Thanksgiving meal, I pull them out and the directions that she wrote for me in her handwriting with her commentary like for washing the bird, "Wash that sucker good, Dana" and "Mimi and I both used canned broth for the gravy sometimes, so you can, too."

So on the surface, recipes can seem like just a few instructions to help you cook something, but sometimes, they can be like love letters from past generations. I know I am sappy, but it is that time of year! I have said that I love this time of year. . . Nostalgia sort of come with the territory, doesn't it?


Tiffany said...

WHAT??? No Ft. Polk cookbook? I'm so dissapointed. That one might have had some really unique recipes!

danajk said...

Oh, Tiffany! I never even saw one or I would totally have it! Do you have one from Polk?