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Nanny’s Cookbooks

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.

Cookbooks

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.

Cookbooks

Imagine my absolute shock and happiness when I spotted this:

Cookbooks

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!)

Cookbooks

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…

Cookbooks

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:

Cookbooks

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.

Cookbooks

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]

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sweetsugarbelle

Monday 11th of July 2011

Another funny. Two really. Before Nan passed she sent me for her recipes. I was after her chow chow recipe. Anyway I looked and looked and looked no luck. Then the day after she passed I was going through them all again. When I went to put them up I DROPPED THE WHOLE basket. But when I went to pick them up, there it was, right on top. I felt her presence like she was right there. Also I found this recipe for that spiced tea with Tang...tthe recipe is written in her pretty young handwriting but down at the bottom in her scratchy old lady writing is a note that says...Drink all at once than VOMIT (she really capitalized vomit, lol) guess she didn't like that one :-) okay rid was way too long. Feel better :-)

sweetsugarbelle

Monday 11th of July 2011

I was tweeting you from the mcdonalds line. Now im parked in the parking lot bawling, but good happy tears because I know this kind of love. Those cookbooks are more valuable than anything in the world. Priceless memories. I know she didn't get angry when you wrote in her book. She laughed. Wow. I am touched beyond words. And the blue chesse dressing recipe is the same one my Nanny used. Worsterschire, tabasco, and lemon juice. Wonder where they got it, if it was all the buzz in their day. Pa...mu brothers both went to school in Golden, Co. I've toured that brewery many a times. Thanks for sharing. It brings bac wonderful memories.

TidyMom

Saturday 6th of November 2010

How lucky you are to have those Amber!