A few months ago, I bought a “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book,” published in 1968, at a church yard sale. I didn’t need another Better Homes cookbook; I bought it because of the handwritten recipes that fell out of when I opened the book — the kinds of recipes that are shared at potluck suppers, swapped over coffee and passed down through generations of families.
The recipes tucked inside the cookbook, written on yellowed paper and school notebook paper, are a tribute to family traditions.
I have my husband’s grandmother’s “My Better Homes and Garden Cook Book” from 1935. It also has dozens of handwritten recipes, some still attached to the pages with straight pins. This particular cookbook means more to me than the cookbook I picked up at the church sale because I remember the late Emma Carpenter preparing many of those handwritten recipes for family gatherings.
“Mamaw’s” pecan cake might not have tasted any better than the butterscotch pie recipe found in the stranger’s book, but it is the memories that make any recipe a treasure.
As we’re hunkered down for winter, we crave those comforting foods that we associate with happy times and loving relatives. Whether it’s pecan cake, salmon croquettes, tuna noodle casserole, coconut pie or fried chicken, we all have our favorite foods that comfort us when we need it the most.
You don’t have to have an old family cookbook to find recipes that bring back memories. Many comfort food recipes can be found in church and regional cookbooks or those from small interest groups.
Also, there are new cookbooks that have updated those great recipes for today’s generation of cooks. Here are some recipes that might bring back some memories.
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This recipe is from “Sew Many Recipes … Sew Little Time,” a collection of recipes from Quilter’s Square in Lexington, Ky.
Quick Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened pineapple slices
7 maraschino cherries, optional
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
1 package yellow cake mix, without pudding
Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over butter in the bottom of skillet. Arrange 7 pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place a cherry in center of each pineapple ring and sprinkle with pecans, if desired. Set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter over pineapple. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until pick comes out clean. Remove cake and invert onto large plate.
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This recipe is from “The Blue Grass Cookbook,” compiled by Minnie C. Fox.
1 can salmon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder, in bread crumbs
1/2 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Mix all together and form into pear shapes. Roll in egg and cracker dust, and fry light brown.
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This is a good recipe from “Southern Living Around the Southern Table: Coming Home to Comforting Meals and Treasured Memories” by Rebecca Lang.
Real Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 3 1/2-pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour
9 cups shortening
Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add buttermilk, seal and chill 2 hours. Remove chicken from buttermilk, discarding buttermilk. Sprinkle chicken with creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Place flour on a large plate or in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
Melt shortening to depth of 1 1/2 inches in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed skillet at least 10 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Heat shortening to 360 degrees using medium-high heat. Fry chicken, in batches, turning often, 15 to 20 minutes or until evenly browned and done. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings