A culinary memory book

“Culinary memory book” a.k.a. “Family Cookbook” a.k.a “Collection of Family Recipes”

 My sons frequently remind me about the need to save family recipes. “Make sure that I get a copy of this one!”  “Add this one to the family cookbook!”  Well, it’s finally done – 124 recipes in the “Ellerbee and Extended Family Cookbook”.  Of note, 38 (about 25%) of the recipes fall into one category –  “Desserts, Cakes, Cookies and Pies”.  I now tell the story of this endeavor.

My sons and their cousins are now adults in their own households. They often ask for this or that recipe from me, their parents and grandparents.  The need to transfer those treasured culinary memories has gradually become more acute.  We talk about this at family gatherings. I have a bookcase full of recipe books but regularly consult only about a dozen or so.  I agreed to take on this project for our family.

The process began in 2019 with goal of producing book for Christmas 2019.  Recipes kept drifting in and other priorities took over.  So, I made completion of the cookbook as one of my genealogy goals for 2020.  And, it’s now done! Many will receive copies as Christmas gifts this year.

Where to start? That’s easy – begin collecting recipes! What dishes do you remember from your childhood? What dishes are always gone at the end of family meals or gatherings? What recipes are often requested by others?  Search recipe boxes and recipe books. Pick out the most worn recipe books – those are the ones most used. Look for recipes with handwritten notes. Include a story about the recipe.

How to put your family cookbook together?

You can:

There are, literally, thousands of websites to look at.  Important thing is to get started! Decide on format and template, collect and enter recipes, share with others. Enjoy the food and memories!

REFLECTION:

Election Day has come and gone. Multiple issues with getting accurate count of legally cast ballots. I choose to NOT comment on the results. Some people are happy and some not so much.  Seems like that’s always the way with these national elections.  This post tells of a positive event for my family – creation of a family cookbook with well-remembered and cherished recipes. Traditions live on!

What I learned:  Include extended family members when searching for recipes. Many templates are available. Limit recipes to those that are truly family favorites. Include recipes from all branches of the family tree.

What helped: Prompt response to call for recipes.

What didn’t help:  My procrastination to complete project.

To-do:  Digital cookbook in the future??

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

The story of stollen

What food traditions are honored by your family during this holiday season?  For my husband and his family, Nana’s cornbread stuffing is the ‘must-have’ dish with Thanksgiving turkey.  My family ate traditional fare of turkey with white bread dressing for Thanksgiving.  My mother’s allergy to turkey meant that she also baked a chicken or duck for her meal.  One of my fondest memories about visiting mom’s parents is stollen, a sweet yeast bread with German origins.  In this post, I digress from the telling of individual stories to share our family recipe and a few stories.

stollen

What’s left of the most recent stollen at our house

As mentioned, stollen is a sweet yeast bread with German origins.  It is made with dried fruits, nuts and spices. How to pronounce “stollen”

Here’s the RECIPE:   CHRISTMAS STOLLEN_one page

My maternal great-great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. Valentine Maurer and Maria Metzger were from Baden in southwest Germany. Ludwig Klee claimed Prussia in north east Germany as his homeland.  The ancestry of Anna Wolfe, Ludwig’s wife, is either Dutch or Prussian.  So, we honor those German traditions and food.

I remember that Gram always had stollen when we visited. Sometimes she bought the stollen from a commercial bakery,  Entenmann’s.  Entenmann’s  baked goods are available at many retail grocery chains. If you have never tried any of their cakes and desserts, you are really missing something wonderful! Sometimes the stollen came from the local bakery where great-aunt Viola worked.

My sister found the original recipe years ago. Both of us tweaked the recipe a little to produce this version. I make this stollen the week before Thanksgiving. We eat it Thanksgiving morning while watching parades on TV.  For the next several weeks, snack time often includes a small piece of stollen.  I often make a second recipe in December.

HINTS

Use real butter, not margarine.  I use unsalted butter.  I cannot say how it would turn out if you use soft butter from tubs or salted butter.

Nuts:  I use pecans. Almonds or walnuts give a slightly different flavor.

Raisins:  We like golden raisins but regular black raisins work well, too. I haven’t tried the recipe with cranraisins.

I don’t have a counter-top mixer. I do all of the mixing and kneading by hand.  Quality should be the same if you use a counter-top mixer for kneading the bread dough.  Continue to mix in fruits and nuts by hand.

One recipe makes two stollen cakes. Wrap one in plastic wrap and aluminum; place in the freezer. Keeps in freezer for months.

Warm a piece in microwave for 10-15 seconds then put some butter on it. The butter just melts into the bread.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

I put the recipe at the beginning of my post.  Why?  Personal preference. I am annoyed by  food posts that show multiple pictures of a dish with lots of text before you ever get to the recipe.  I don’t mind reading a short introduction.  Then, I want to read the recipe!  If I am interested, then I will read the rest of the post.  I guess it’s a marketing ploy similar to a salesperson telling you all about a product without telling you the price.

What I learned:  different ways to pronounce ‘stollen’.

What helped:  years of experience making this sweet yeast bread for my family.

What didn’t help:  nothing.

TO-DO:   I made one batch last week for my family. Make another batch after Thanksgiving for in-laws.  Happy Thanksgiving!