The Best of My Family Recipes
I am almost 73. I have been cooking since maybe 7. My grandfather was a cabinet maker so he made me a stepping stool so I could reach the counter top and cook with my grandmother.
I was the oldest grandchild and stayed with my grandparents a lot. My mother worked, so loving to cook and learning to do it well was helpful. By the time I was 13 I was in charge of cooking all family meals at home.
At grandma’s I was the student. So at a young age in the late 40’s on a ranch I learned EVERYTHING.
I loved canning. What an accomplished feeling when you finished and could simply look at the rows and rows of beautiful fruits and vegetables. My favorite was the Alberta peaches. We had a small side orchard on the ranch. Grandma was a gardener and she was always trading seeds with the neighbors.
We all had to learn these things back then because there were not markets on every corner.
So lucky me! Out of necessity I learned valuable skills lost to many of today’s youth.
BTW … there was not even television so cooking was one of my entertainments … and who does not appreciate GREAT FOOD?
I was always eager to try something new so buying cookbooks became a hobby as I got older. I have quite a collection today.
Right out of school I went to work for Pacific Telephone as a long line operator … yes the ring a ding ding old fashion switch board kind. Born to a headset early on
Telephone operators INVENTED multi-tasking. We were expected to do many things at one time in under 10 seconds. If not you were history.
We were not suppose to chit chat but alas we did when we got bored. One of my friends was a woman who was married to an Armenian man and had learned to cook wonderful Armenian dishes from his mother.
I was interested so she taught me. I loved it.
Stuffed grape leaves both cold and hot and my all time favorite BAKALVA!
Thank heaven today we can get the filo dough in the frozen section of most markets.
So as you can imagine being around dynamite cooks?
What an advantage!
About my Family
My Grandmother was a great cook. She learned her cooking skills as a young girl for lumberjacks in a logging camp in Michigan. This was before my grandfather and she came to California.
My mother was a good cook but did not do that much of it because she worked so it was left to me. I made the menus and did the marketing until I got married and left home.
My first mother-in-law was from Oklahoma. Mother of 7 children, a farm wife who made everything from scratch including the best home made yeast rolls EVERY SINGLE DAY.
No measuring anything just tossed in a little of this and a little of that. I never could get the hang of it.
She also made the best home made sauerkraut and crock dill pickles. Since I love both I did get the hang of that.
All of her family was home for Sunday supper. Amazing how that woman could stretch a couple of chickens and a few vegetables AND ALWAYS mashed potatoes and white gravy.
You have to love cast iron for making the best fried chicken ever.
Next came my second husband (a great cook in his own right). Got to love Italy and Italian cooks right?
So his family owned an Italian Deli
that was started by his father and mother in the mid 40’s. When I met
him the business had been passed on to the 2 boys so I inherited a
DYNOMITE mother-in-law who worked in a Mexican restaurant as a young
woman but certainly knew how to cook EVERYTHING Italian.
She made ravioli like my first mother-in-law a little of this and a little of that. I made a point of learning this process. My husband helps now if we want to make bunches and freeze them for later (which we no longer share because they are so time consuming to make).
They were from Northern Italy (Piemonte) so it is Italian with a French influence.
My father-in-law invented his own sausage recipe that is a secret to this day. People came from all over the state on the Holidays to have his Italian Sweet Sausage.
Piemontes Italian Deli was the most popular Deli in town. The workers were seasoned Italian cooks who worked because they wanted to and they certainly could tell you how to make any of your favorite Italian recipes.
This is my brother-in-law at the Deli before my husband and he retired over 10 years ago.