Preserve ‘real’ home cookin’ | Passing It On

By Linda Buroker | Aug 28, 2014
Linda Buroker

Family reunions, graduations and barbecues bring to mind home cooking and favorite recipes.

I miss those family gatherings, but most of all, I miss those “to die for” recipes.

A few of the classics can be found in my recipe box, but not nearly enough of them.

Food allergies, health department regulations and busy lifestyles have all but negated the delights of potlucks, bake sales and family reunions.

It is sad that deli potato salad, chips and rotisserie chicken have replaced what we used to call real “home cooking.”

Occasionally a church group will put together a collection of recipes from people in their parishes, but it is never quite the same.

The secret ingredients seem to be missing; perhaps the love that went into each dish. We may never know.

Can you remember potato salad made with boiled dressing folded into whipped cream or baked beans slow-roasted for many hours?

When I was a kid, we had a neighbor who made angel food cakes from scratch. They were her specialty.

What happened to those recipes?

I have scraps of paper and recipe cards so old and faded that I can barely make out the writing, but I haven’t made any of them for years.

Grandmother’s lefsa, my mom’s pumpkin pie and Aunt Irma’s potato salads are just memories now.

Recipe sharing is a work of love, and it is one way to share cultural traditions. Food and culture have always been inseparable.

You can make a conscious effort to recreate your family heritage by doing the following:

Search: Take a trip down memory lane as you look through your recipes.

Rewrite old recipes: Start your own book or digital file.

Proofread: Copy the recipes carefully so that nothing gets lost in the translation. Try some to see if they are as good as you remember.

Include the details: Tiny details may make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

Remember that the current generation of cooks in your family may not even know how to make a piecrust from scratch.

Include pictures and historical antidotes: Jot down notes on how you came by the recipe, why you liked it, and when it made an appearance in your family.

Expand your search: If you live in a small town, reach out and include recipes from friends and distant relatives.

Start a blog or ask your Facebook friends to share their family “secrets.”

Recreate something beautiful!

Here’s a family recipe from one of those old faded recipe cards:


Mother's Boiled Dressing for Potato Salad

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vinegar

Beat 2 eggs and mix with:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp dry mustard and a pinch of salt

Boil the mixture slowly and stir until thick.

Mix boiled dressing with whipped cream and a small amount of mayo (not too much as boiled dressing is quite strong), and fold around potatoes.



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