Treasured Family Recipes Can Connect Us to Our Past

Treasured Family Recipes Can Connect Us to Our Past

The recipes we gather from our mothers and grandmothers are more than just a list of ingredient and instructions as to how to put them together. These family recipes are a direct link to our past. They are also an integral part of our memories as we associate them with certain occasions or holidays.

I remember asking my grandmother to write down some of her best recipes. This was years ago around 1987. To this day when I read one of her recipes written in her own handwriting it makes me smile. I can hear her sweet voice saying the words she wrote. As in her recipe for Lemon Sponge Pie: “This is a very old recipe and has a most delicate flavor.” What a treasure that is!

My grandmother, Elizabeth, was German-Hungarian. There were so many recipes she made with dumplings and noodles which came from her mother, Anna, who brought them over from the “old country.” Sometimes when I make these recipes I imagine my great grandmother making the same recipe. The only difference is hers was cooked on coal/wood stove. I’m told the tastes of foods prepared this way had an extra special flavor.

When I eat these old fashioned favorites it takes me back to “dinner at grandmom’s.” What a treat it was to feast on the wonderful food she prepared for us! The recipes I have included are a typical meal my grandmother would make. Yum! How lucky we are to have these family recipes which connect us to our past and recall such treasured memories! Below are a few of our family favorite ethnic recipes as well as the Lemon Sponge Pie recipe. Enjoy!

Hungarian Goulash

Put 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Finely slice 1 large onion and fry in oil until golden brown. Add 3 teaspoons paprika. Stir it around and add the meat. You can use about a pound of chicken, beef or veal. We always like breast and shank of veal. Add a piece of green pepper, a stalk of celery, a tomato (fresh or canned), 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves. Salt and pepper to taste. Steam the meat until it draws juice. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on the meat. Add 1 or 2 cups of water and simmer until tender. This usually takes about 2 hours. Add 1 or 2 diced potatoes for the last 1/2 hour. I like to serve this with rice, noodles or bread dumplings. This is a simple but very delicious meal!

Bread Dumplings

Toast 2 slices of bread and cut into small cubes. Take 1 cup flour, 1 egg, pinch of salt and enough water to make a soft dough. Mix in a small bowl. When smooth, stir in the bread cubes and mix well. Have a pot of boiling water ready to which you have added a teaspoon of salt. Use a tablespoon to cut spoonfuls of dough and drop into the boiling water. Cook until the dumplings float and are done. Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon and drain. Pour a little melted butter over them (about 1/4 cup). Delicious served with goulash, beef stew or pot roast. Serves 4. This recipe may be doubled.

Lemon Sponge Pie

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Mix sugar, flour and egg yolks in a bowl. Mix in lemon juice squeezed form 1 lemon. Add soft butter and grated rind of the lemon. Add milk. Mix well. Beat egg whites. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour into an unbaked pie crust (recipe below). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is a very old recipe and has a most delicate flavor.

Pie Crust: Take 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons boiling water and a pinch of salt and beat with a wire whisk until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Add 1 cup flour. Mix with a fork until crumbly. If too soft add more flour. Form a ball and roll out making a round crust to fit into pie plate. Trim edges to make them even and flute by pressing between your fingers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until pale brown.

The Author:

Carrie J. Gamble is co-author, editor and publisher of Grandmother’s Cookbook, a collection of recipes, treasured memories, wildflower watercolors and feelings from the heart. Details about the cookbook and more delicious recipes of Carrie’s grandmother, Elizabeth Rose von Hohen, can be found on their website. You’ll experience “living life the old fashioned way” with Grandmother’s Cookbook. Visit the website and download FREE recipes and “A Family Love Letter” chapter at Enjoy!

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