Notice the years of cooking stains, the worn edges of the pages, binding that is slowly coming loose.
This war-torn tome is my grandmother’s favorite cookbook. No, it’s not Betty Crocker, nor is it Better Homes and Gardens, though she has both of those in her collection. This particular cookbook is “Recollections and Recipes From Army Wives: The Museum Cookbook”, compiled by the Army wives in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
From the forward:
“Our recipes are present day favorites and include everything from quick and easy to gourmet cooking. We think they symbolize the Army wife cooking today.”
I came home with four cookbooks in total. I just picked random ones out of her collection, and didn’t have much time to pour through them before we came back to New Jersey. While we were on the plane, I read every page of all four books.
What I found filled me with such a sense of family, and even nostalgia – for things I haven’t experienced, and people I hadn’t met – and yet was connected to through my love of creating good food for my family. Over the thirty plus years of my grandfather’s military career, my grandparents were stationed at Fort Leavenworth several times, and my mother has fond memories of growing up on the base there. This cookbook is filled with the heart and soul of military wives. Each recipe has been handwritten by the woman that submitted it. Many of them identify themselves both by their given names, and their married names – Mrs. Smith, etc. These are women who defined themselves in the pride they have for their husband, and the service they as a family were doing for the country. I found so much honor and love as I poured through the pages looking for ideas for this blog.
The grey book here, much to my elated surprise, is an V.F.W. compilation published in the 1940s, when my grandfather was just a teenager. When I opened the first page, I was delighted by the retro advertisements at the very front of the book. I felt like I was stepping back in time.
Imagine my absolute shock and happiness when I spotted this:
Mabel Beatty is my great grandmother, my grandfather’s mother. Not only have I happened upon an actual piece of my own personal cooking history, I discovered the very recipe that spawned my grandfather’s lifelong obsession with cinnamon rolls. I cannot tell you how much this thrilled me. I was literally bouncing up and down in my seat on the plane. (Luckily, it was just James and me in the row!)
This lovely little book was put together by women in Alamosa, Colorado, which is not far from Monte Vista.
Both my grandparents grew up in the same small area of Colorado, though they came from vastly different families. My grandfather was the son of an enlisted man who was injured in World War I. He worked honest jobs, but they never had much. My grandmother’s family owned (and still does) one of the biggest ranches in Colorado, growing barley for Coors, and cattle for beef. Being diversified in these two things allowed them to maintain their wealth throughout the Great Depression. My grandparents met in college, and eloped. When my grandmother’s parents learned of her marriage to a man that wasn’t up to their standards, they disowned her and claimed she’d be back home within six months. At the time of my grandfather’s death, they’d been married 52 years. I hope my great grandmother didn’t hold her breath…
Despite their less than stellar relations, this book was a gift to my grandmother from her mother, for her birthday. I find this little book quite charming and ingenious. It was produced on a typewriter, with five different colored index cards. The sections of the book are divided by the colors, and includes everything from appetizers to casseroles, and of course, desserts. The cover is hand painted wood, and I imagine they probably had a couple of different designs.
Back to my grandmother’s favorite.. I should mention, it’s missing the back cover page, no doubt from years of heavy use. And then I spotted this:
That is the beginning handwriting of one Bluebonnets and Brownies blog author, folks. I can’t even begin to imagine what I was trying to write, but I’m almost certain this little stunt warranted a wooden spoon to my backside.
And now, because I promised my grandmother I would, I am sharing with you her very favorite recipe from this book. It’s from the pages that are so very work-stained. Nearly every week, she makes this recipe for Roquefort Sour Cream dressing (or.. you know, Blue cheese), because my family devours it in their weekly lunches at her house. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do. And I should mention that while I get to keep all the other books I absconded with back from Texas, this little ruby darling must be shipped back to her owner for fear of my own life. Yes, the recipe is that good.
Roquefort Sour Cream Dressing
1 pint Mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. Sour cream
1/2 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. White vinegar
1/2 tbsp. Salt
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Onion juice
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic powder
Dash of Tobasco sauce
2 packages (3 or 4 oz. size) Roquefort Cheese
Put all ingredients except cheese in blender for about 1 minute until smooth and well blended. Crumble cheese into mixture. Makes 1 quart. Keeps well in the refrigerator.
Note: Blue Cheese may be substituted for Roquefort.
This recipe is attributed to Mrs. Harold Wilkins (Barbara)
In the coming months, I hope to make many of the recipes contained in the books Nanny let me have. I think it will be a sort of soul-searching through cooking to connect to my own history, and I think it’s going to be an incredible journey.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Nanny’s Cookbooks – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]