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tomato seeds
baked breads
green thumb
biological father
A Vintage Story About A Vintage Cook Book
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A Vintage Story About A Vintage Cook Book

The other day I was looking through my cookbooks. I was searching through some of my old bread books for that special recipes I was in the mood to make. When I came across this very special bread book. The title of the book was Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book, sub title was How to delight your family with fragrant FRESH-BAKED BREADS. It was in its eighth printing in 1970. This was the very first cook book I ever owned I was 17 years old at the time. It was given to me by my grandmother as a wedding gift.

A Little Bit About Grand Ma Able

She was born 1901. My sister and I had to live with her for a couple of weeks due to my mother falling ill. Grand Ma Abel as we called her, would make the most amazing dishes and her breads were wonderful. She rented a second floor apartment with a 3/4 acre back yard which she farmed every inch of it. She had such a green thumb I was intrigued while she slit two tomato seeds and joined them together to produce a cross breed of tomtoe, I watched in amazement. She grew up on a farm in the Saskatchewan area of Canada. She was the 11th child of 18 siblings. You see times were hard and it was more affordable to have many children work the farm then hired hands. Well my sister was nine and I was seven years old. Exploring this garden of fruit and every vegetable you can grow in the New Jersey climate. She even had a fig tree. We were kids growing up in a rural area 20 minutes drive west of New York City, NY. Grand Ma Able's mini farm was an absolute amazing play ground. We never got to go there often, So staying there for 3 weeks during summer vacation from school was incredible.

Never Asked Never Told

You see my parents and my Grand Ma Abel (on my Fathers side) had a falling out I never knew what it was about. We never visited her much. It was always a delight to visit her. She was a Sunday school teacher I don't recall her ever working out side her farm. She threw out my father's biological father because he drank a lot and loved to chase women. So my point is I really didn't know a lot about her. I do know that when she was 14 she left the farm in Saskatchewan,CA to be independent. She took her first job at a lumber camp in Canada and cooked for the lumberjacks. I wished I would have asked her about those days, Wow

A Promise Kept

I know you think I wandered off on a tangent, but just read on. The years have just flown by and I was about to be a young bride and I wanted to invite Grand Ma Abel to my wedding. I stopped by her home with my intended and chatted with her for awhile. Before I left she gave me the Better Homes and Garden bread book. I thought it strange but she asked me to never give it away to anyone. I promised I would. On the way home my fiance mention it was odd that she made me promise to keep this cook book. So I looked through the pages and although the recipes looked mouth watering I still was puzzled, until I got to the last page.

A gift of the Heart

On the last page was scribbled in her own hand writing her recipe for Raised Buck Wheat Griddle Cakes. Where did you buy Buck wheat in the 70"s. I could barely decipher it but once I figured out her style I could make out the ingredients and the directions. This was not just a recipe. This was what she cooked for breakfast for the lumberjacks in 1914. God only knows how far back this recipe goes. It would have been the first meal of the day that sustained them till when ever they got around to lunch if that even occurred. These men didn't have the machinery we have today. They worked in God awful conditions especially in the winter. Dealt with large wild animals. They were away from there families for very long periods of time. I followed the directions when I finally found buck wheat, and proceeded to make the griddle cakes as close to how she would have. It was funny when it said to heat up water then let it cool. I scratched my head until I realized they did not have a hot water faucet and cold to regulate temperature. The recipe required to let the the mixed ingredients sit for 12 hours to ferment. I was a little disappointed to learn we were going to have a wait till the next day. Our mouths were watering for these griddle cakes.

Worth The Wait

They were the best griddle cakes I have ever tasted and the energy they gave me was phenomenal. Today you can go to organic stores and get all these ingredients. The beauty of it is you always leave a little of the dough in the fridge to ferment and add to it so it's like this never ending batter that gets better with age. I didn't know that the day she gave me the Bread Book, that, that was going to be the last time I saw her. The family feud kept everyone apart. from each other and us kids got caught up in it some how. No one told us she was sick before she passed away.

But I tell you this. There is not a day when I cook bread or those Buck Wheat griddle cakes that I don't think of her and what her life must have been like growing up in that era, 17 siblings, farm life, being 14 years old cooking for lumberjacks. I remember her to be somewhat stubborn and a little domineering but I understood why. That recipe was a part of who she was and if you read between the lines you learn she didn't just give me a recipe she gave me a solution to no matter how tough times got I would be able to start my day with a meal that would keep me sustained though out the day. So I could keep going to do the things I needed to do.

I hope upon reading this you spend a little more time with your Grand Ma. I hope you appreciate the road she took to get here and that you ask question learn about the old days. You will learn alot about today. She use to tell me don't trust banks, Hummm Very Interesting.

P.S If you want this recipe let me know in my comments I would be more then happy to share it with you.

Street Talk


Sometimes people have a hard time expressing how they feel in this story, I know it is a little subliminal but if you read between the lines , well I hope someone enjoys it

  about 9 years ago
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