Monday, July 11, 2011

The Legacy of Family Recipes

By: Sue deBruijn, Visitor Services and Retail Manager

Churches, Ladies Auxiliaries, Fire Halls, Animal Shelters: these are just a few of the multitude of charitable organizations who produce cookbooks chock full of recipes from friends and neighbors.  These cookbooks come in all shapes and sizes, handwritten or typed, bound or stapled.  They are a collection of tried and true recipes compiled by hard working volunteers, and there are legacies of love inside.

To go along with the New York’s Good Eats! exhibit, we decided to carry some of these locally produced cookbooks in The Farmers’ Museum store.  I put out an All Points Bulletin looking for organizations that may have some for sale.  Immediately I received several responses, but only two with cookbooks that we could procure – The Grace Episcopal Church of Cherry Valley and Susquehanna Animal Shelter.  Everyone else had a story they wanted to share about their own cherished local cookbook.  One friend responded that his favorite included a recipe for Turtle Soup.  It began with “Step 1 – Go down to the crick and catch a turtle.”  One of my personal favorites was in the “Men’s Recipes” section where I found a recipe submitted by my Uncle Rudy.  It read, “Sloughter Pot Pie – Ingredients:  1 chicken stolen from a hen house, plucked and cleaned.”

This prompted me to pull out my favorite – the Middleburgh Reformed Church Cookbook.  As I leafed through the yellowing pages, I found recipes from my grandmother, my mother and my aunts, all of whom are no longer with us, but left a legacy behind in their recipes.  I felt myself drawn closer to these women as I read their recipes and pictured them, wearing homemade aprons, lovingly making these meals for our family.

The cookbook also had a surprise for me.  In what I consider the best section, Desserts, I came across Hot Fudge Sauce by Sue Grogan.  Wait, that used to be me!  In my family, the recipe was more commonly referred to as Soozers Sooper Sauce.  I had completely forgotten about the recipe, which had actually been my mother’s.  I always helped her make it so that I could lick the spoon and dip my finger in the fudge sauce while it was still warm.  Graciously, my mother pretended that it was my own special recipe and must have submitted it to the cookbook 30 years ago when it was first printed.

A few months after finding that recipe again, my five sisters and I were gathering for our annual Sisters’ Weekend.  To their surprise, each of them received a jar of homemade Soozers Sooper Sauce, and we spent hours reminiscing about cooking with Mom.  All thanks to that beautiful old cookbook.

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