Saturday, 26 December 2015

Why Secret Family Recipes are for Sharing

I come from a long line of really good cooks.  Growing up, our family often visited nearby relatives where we would talk and laugh and play games.  The kids would play tag, Simon Says, and one game that involved a witch saying “I’m going to town to smoke my pipe…”.  The grown-ups would usually play a variety of card games (hearts, whist, and something we called moustigree, although I have absolutely no idea what its proper name would be).  Always at these gatherings there were tables groaning with food.  Each of the Aunties and Uncles brought something to share with everyone.  It was great because although they were all excellent cooks, they made their own special dishes so we always had something wonderful and different to eat when we visited.  These family gatherings were such a huge part of my growing up and the food was the thing that helped us to celebrate being together.

Some years ago, I was looking for a recipe for a particular cookie one of these amazing cooks used to make at Christmas time.  The cookie was silver-ish in colour, filled with candied fruits and nuts, and had the most delicious chewy/crunchy texture.  It was my absolute favourite and one I will always associate with the holidays.  I found out that sadly, when my lovely Aunt (the creator of these delightful taste memories) passed away – the recipe went with her. 

It got me to thinking about my own recipes and cooking techniques.  What had I shared with my children and the other people in my life?  I realized that I had never taken the time to write out any of these family recipes, these heirlooms really, to be passed on and enjoyed by future generations.  How sad would it be to have all that information, all those memories lost once I’ve gone?   It put me on a mission.  I dug through battered recipes boxes, hounded family members, sifted through pages covered in flour and cake batter (those are the BEST recipes, by the way), and basically read through every recipe book owned by any relative I ever met (and I come from a very large family).

Once I had all the recipes I could find, I typed them up, put them in a recipe book format and made copies for everyone I could.  Each recipe includes the name of the contributor and includes their own personal comments about the dish being described.   Recipes that were handed down from my Grandmother had her name as contributor.  It is a great way to honour her memory and to feel close to her. 

In keeping with that, here is her recipe for Cream Puffs.  They can be sweet or savoury depending on what you use to fill them.  Enjoy! 

Cream Puffs

½ Cup Margarine

1 Cup Boiling Water

1 Cup Flour

½ tsp Salt

4 Eggs

Add margarine to boiling water, heat until margarine melts.  Add flour and salt all at once, stirring vigorously.  Remove from heat, cool 1 minute.  Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time, beating with a spoon after each addition.  Drop by heaping tablespoons every 2” apart on a greased baking sheet (make them smaller or larger depending on your preference).  Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then 350F for 25 minutes.  Fill with sweet or savoury fillings, such as custard and whipped cream or salmon salad.

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