Organizing Nanny’s recipe box has been a delightful but much bigger than expected undertaking. I alphabetized everything, repaired the divider tabs and made groupings such as cakes, cookies, pies, breads…For cakes alone, Nanny has 34 recipes ranging from your basic pound cake to the exciting-sounding Sock-it-to-Me Cake. Many of note cards are and scraps of paper are tattered, despite having been taped up repeatedly over the years.
Nanny was born in 1921 and married in the ’40s, so you can imagine how old some of these are. It’s neat to look through the handwritten ones as I can tell which ones Nanny wrote, which my Aunt Renee, Aunt Da (Nanny’s older sister by 16 years), and others wrote. Some have ingredients in them that really aren’t used anymore or even that I’ve never heard of. Some sound revolting -marshmallow fruit salad (canned mandarin oranges, canned fruit salad, maraschino cherries and mini marshmallows; BLECH)- and others, like Angel Biscuits, sound delicious.
Mini marshmallows, pimiento and Crisco (shortening) were terrifically popular at one point. You definitely don’t see those in much today, fortunately in my opinion. Anyway, this has been a neat project as obviously I love to cook but women throughout my family’s history have too and this is a neat way to get to know them a bit.
In a similar vein, Aunt Da’s daughter, Eleanor (who I call Nanan), still lives here in Lake Charles. She’s more like another grandmother to me because Aunt Da was so much older than Nanny, so Nanny and Nanan weren’t born that far apart. Anyway, Nanan still has all of Aunt Da’s old recipes and said they are a complete mess. She put some aside for me so I can organize, reproduce and save them in an electronic format. Should be neat. They used to make huge batches of handrolled tamales and these cookies called Tea Cakes that I’ve never seen beyond Louisiana.
In the meantime, I posted a good recipe for Shrimp Creole. It’s a very easy dish if you’re inspired (also freezes well).