Handwritten Recipes

I recently found some favored childhood recipes in my mother’s old recipe box. My mother died in 2010 and I have used her wooden recipe boxes as decorative reminders in my home. But flipping through her handwritten recipes – and many from her 4 other sisters – is like sitting down with her at the table and discussing the art of cooking. I am reminded once again of the importance of seeing the familiar handwriting of someone we have loved our entire lives. Touching these index cards is a physical connection to her. What a treasured gift.

I enjoyed reading this note from Mom’s next oldest sister, Peggy (and the only remaining sister.) Their love for fashion and fine things is not so unlike a letter between sisters today. And always – as southern women are want to do – the discussion and sharing of recipes.

A few simple favorites from my own childhood…

Del Marvelous Chicken

Del Marvelous Chicken
– Peggy Mervine

(‘Delmarva’ is a term commonly used in the East for the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia peninsula)

1 chicken cut up
1/4 lb butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups Rice Krispies

Dry chicken thoroughly, add salt and pepper to melted butter. Crush Rice Krispies on waxed paper. Dip chicken in seasoned mixture and then roll in crushed krispies.

Place chicken separately on tin foil-lined flat pan.

Cook at 350 degrees for one hour.

One of my favorite cousins, Max, loved his mother’s red velvet cake. Max was a little over a decade older than me and I thought he pretty much hung the moon. Anything he did, I wanted to do. Anything he loved, I wanted to love. He was tall and cool in the ’70’s. If you’ll notice on the lid of my mother’s recipe box, I wrote his name, as I was horrible about doing all over the house with whatever word or name I was feeling at the time. How my parents didn’t kill me on the spot, I’ll never know!

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake
– Mary Scott

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Crisco
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 cup red food coloring (2 oz)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp soda
1 cup buttermilk

Cream sugar and Crisco. Add beaten eggs, food coloring and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients 3 times and add alternately with buttermilk to sugar mixture.

Mix together and beat into batter the vinegar and soda.

Cook for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

I can almost smell this next recipe cooking away in my Mom Mom’s kitchen in Duncan, Oklahoma. To this day, the smell of boiling chicken sends me right back to that screen-door-slamming, fig-tree-alleyed, workshop-mesmerizing home on the corner with the big mimosa tree out front.

Chicken and Dumplings

Mom Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings
– Pearl Forshee, dated April 5, 1967

4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening

Add enough hot water (approx 2 cups) (not boiling) to make a stiff dough.

On a floured board, work and roll out.

Thin cut in desired length.

Drop at once into slowly boiling chicken broth.

When all dumplings are in broth, lower fire and cook a few minutes longer.

You may add 2 eggs to stiffen batter if richer dumplings are desired.

Sidenote: That’s all the directions that were on the card. I would assume you have cooked a full chicken, deboned it and now place the chunked up meat into the chicken broth and noodle mixture.

Come to think of it – my birthday is coming up next week so I think I’ll put in a few childhood favorite requests with Scott for my birthday meal. Bonus: red velvet cake is his favorite cake. Speaking of which, I will be missing my yearly banana cake from my mother-in-law, Joanne, this year. (Unless she’s figured out how to package one up and send it from Kansas City.) She has lovingly made it for me every year for my birthday after I mentioned that my own mother made it for me every year. Banana cake with coffee-laced icing. DELISH!

Banana Bread Cake

Ms. Shaw’s Banana Bread Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4T buttermilk
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter
1 cup mashed bananas

Mix all together in mixer. (My mother usually doubled this recipe and made it a 3-tiered cake with icing in between the layers. Because, icing.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes

1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar
1 stick butter
cold, strong coffee – add a little at a time

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