When I was home for the holidays I found my version of gold tucked away in the cupboard above the microwave – our family recipe box full of stained cards with annotations. Heirloom recipes are treasures in our house.
I grew up in the kitchen in between my father, who makes a mean pancake breakfast, and my mother, who turns any weird leftovers into a delicious pot of stew. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood revolve around these recipe cards.
One of my personal favorite meals was Mom’s meatloaf. While most kids would turn their nose at the thought, it was the crown jewel of beef to me… juicy, indulgent and that sweet ketchup smeared on top that made dinner a special treat. I thought I was such a “big kid” helping my mom in the kitchen those nights, offering my tears to the onion gods and mashing the ingredients together using my hands. Yummy.
Another vivid memory is completing two trial runs of my favorite family pasta dish – buttery chicken alfredo – in preparation for cooking Valentine’s dinner for my high school sweetheart. Step-by-step Mom walked me through how to thicken the parmesan cheese, butter and heavy cream. I can still taste that rich sauce… You would think it came straight from Paula Dean’s stovetop. Confession: I stole this romantic idea (down to the buttery sauce) from my older sister who did the same thing for her boyfriend the year before.
I’ll also never forget the millions of casserole dishes… oh the casseroles, not again! I would roll my eyes when that was on the dinner menu. Looking back I realize how smart Mom was to easily feed five rumbling tummies with plenty of leftovers for days to come. She obviously learned this technique from Mia Mia (Mom’s mom) who had the daily chore of feeding six kids and a husband.
Flipping through the recipe cards was a walk down memory lane and a lesson in how my parents learned their culinary skills… from their own moms. Thank you, Grandma Nelson and Mia Mia.
Though I am usually proud of my own kitchen creations I quickly realized there is no competing with my grandparent’s meals. So I made it a goal of the New Year to recreate these family favorites on the blog. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?
Here’s to recipes from my grandmother’s kitchens…. Classics, some simple, others complex, but most importantly, passed down. I’m starting with Mia Mia’s (mom’s mom) Ham Soufflé.
- 10 slices bread
- 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar recommended)
- 6 eggs
- ¾ t. dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup butter
- 1-2 c meat (ham)
- 3 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons tapioca
- Garlic powder
- Butter a 9x11 casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the tapioca at the bottom of the dish.
- Trim crust from bread and spread with melted butter. Sprinkle bread with garlic powder and cube. Place in the dish.
- Grate the cheese and cube the meat.
- Layer the meat and cheese twice in the dish.
- Mix the eggs and remaining ingredients and pour over the bread, meat and cheese.
- Let set for 24 hours.
- Bake 325 degrees for 1 hour.