Recipe box

My family is probably wondering when I am going to stop adding cookbooks and old recipe boxes to my large collection. “Probably never,” as long as I am here to enjoy them. Sometimes I try to imagine the old kitchen and those special hands that used these recipes.  

A few months ago, I received an email telling me about a church yard sale/estate sale in Massachusetts. The lady who contacted me knew of my love of old recipe boxes and wanted me to know that they had three of these for sale if I wanted to come and check them out. No way I could make that yard sale, but when the lady offered to mail them to me, I grabbed my checkbook. Great long distance purchase!

When I started pulling out the recipes, many of them had no mixing instructions, no baking time or pan size, but that doesn’t make the recipes less desirable. We must remember that these were the cook’s personal recipes. She didn’t need this information.

It makes me sad to think that many of the younger generation probably don’t even own a cookbook. Also gone are the days when a daughter picked up the phone and called her mother about a recipe. Now they depend on the internet for recipes. If the computers go down, what’s for dinner?

I found one recipe I wanted to try, which called for Presto. I admit that I checked this out on the internet because my mother is no longer around to ask. I learned that Presto is a self-rising CAKE flour. This makes me think that cakes made with Presto would be extra light in texture.

Although these recipe boxes were from Massachusetts, I can’t help but believe there was a Southern cook hidden in that kitchen somewhere. I found a recipe for popcorn balls made with molasses similar to my mother’s made with sorghum. How about candied sweet potatoes? One recipe for fritters calls for “boiling in lard.” Instead of having a divider for “breads,” one recipe box had a divider for “biscuits.”

The following recipe for salmon loaf found in one of the recipe boxes was sent by a mother to her daughter in a letter. Part of the letter was still on the page with the recipe, which is certainly a sentimental touch. Her mother asked her to “report the results” if she tried this recipe.

BAKED SALMON LOAF

  • 1 tall can salmon (about 14 ¾ ounces)
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks (save whites)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I think I would decrease this to ½ teaspoon)
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Soak bread crumbs in warm milk about 5 minutes. Beat egg yolks and add salmon, milk and bread crumbs. Add lemon juice and salt. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Spoon into loaf pan. (This needs to be a deep pan because it calls for it to be baked in a water bath.) Put loaf pan in a larger pan with enough hot water to come up to half the depth of loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a silver knife inserted into loaf comes out clean. Remove loaf pan out of pan holding water. Serve with carrots, baked potatoes or potato chips.

Contact Prudence Hilburn at prudencehilburn@aol.com.

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