Category Archives: Family Heritage Project
I wanted to give tribute to those who inspired me to be passionate about baking.
First would be my son, Eli (pictured left) with another inspirational person, my paternal grandmother. Even though Eli was hot and fussy in this photo, I really love this photo of them together. I can say that just looking at the picture makes me want to bake some buttermilk biscuits from scratch–just like she taught me .
Some people have stories of working side by side with someone who helped them learn to bake, but unfortunately, I don’t have that history (I was never interested when I was younger). She taught me how to bake her awesome buttermilk biscuits by just talking me through it and using her words and hands to show me approximate measurements for the recipe. I have gotten really close to mastering her recipe. They are good, but I don’t think I have quite gotten to the same level of awesomeness as her biscuits. Although, it seems anything that granny makes is better, which could be a psychological thing.
As mentioned in my “About Me,” I never baked from scratch before my son was conceived. After learning that I was going to have a baby, SOMETHING JUST CLICKED. Some people call it “maternal instincts,” but I call it “Divine Intervention” because there are a lot of mothers who can’t bake from scratch. Now, My desire is to pass my passion along to Eli in some form–if only to ensure he knows his way around a kitchen so he will make a wonderful kitchen helper for his wife one day.
Another person who inspires me is my mother. While she doesn’t do a lot of baking, she has always been a wonderful cook. I have great memories of watching her cook, and again, while I didn’t stand by and do things step by step, I did help out a little in the kitchen from time to time. When I was old enough, there were certain things that I could cook. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I REALLY did any significant cooking though. Even then, significant is really in the eye of the beholder. It paled in comparison to how she cooks.
I have always called her and asked, “Mom, what goes in your ________ dish?” Just like granny did, she would tell me what I needed and talk me through how to make it. There’s even a post on my blog here about my great-grandmother’s awesome Thanksgiving dressing that you really should check out.
My cooking has MUCH improved. I’m sure there are things that I cook that are really good in my own right, but I can assure you that I wouldn’t be the cook I am today without her contributing so much to my knowledge.
Another resource of inspiration is cookbooks, but not just “any” cookbook, vintage cookbooks or heritage cookbooks. I am SO inspired by this one particular cookbook pictured to the left. It is a local cookbook published in 1951 by the women’s ministry of a local church. There are SO many really great looking recipes in it. What excites me so much about it is thinking of the ladies who submitted the recipes. Many of them well on up in years, or possibly passed on, they were big hospitality people back then. It wasn’t uncommon to have people over for a party every weekend, or every Sunday after church.
Other cookbooks like “heritage cookbooks,” which are those that publish recipes that are attributed to a specific group of people. For example, “Georgia Heritage.” I am interested in that cookbook because I live in Georgia; however, I am also totally sold on another cookbook that is solely for Southern Cakes (southern being anywhere in the south from like Louisiana to North Carolina and even some from further north or even other countries that migrated to the south).
Another cookbook I have enjoyed reading through is one for The Shakers because it includes the history behind the recipe. I TOTALLY love that. I never realized how much I enjoy history until I found my way into the food preparation field.
Google Images is another place that I find inspiration. Many times I fall asleep at night just scrolling through pictures of a specific item. Maybe I’ve had cakes on my mind. I search that cake and click “Images,” and I just look at all of the different cakes that have been posted over the years. I have read SO MANY blog posts on specific cakes that I may have liked more than others. I enjoy reading about the baker’s experience in making the cake.
I seldom EVER actually use the recipe as it is written, but if I do, I give credit to the blog that inspired me with their photo. For example, I have blogged about the Butter Pecan cake of a contest winner on Taste of Home, and the carrot cake listed on AllRecipes called Sam’s Famous Carrot cake. There are some recipes that are just so close to being what I am looking for that it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel; however, most of my cakes come from another type of inspiration…
MY CUSTOMERS!! My customers and their flavor profiles inspire me. When I am not working from my own personal creativity, they give me flavors they love and the occasion they are celebrating, and I begin planning how I could best represent those flavors for that specific occasion.
I love the challenge that comes with pairing flavors that I may not have paired before, or baking a cake that I have never baked before. I had an order for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake once, and my mom asked me, “Have you ever baked one of those before?” I said, “No, but my new answer to anyone’s traditional (non fondant) cake request is ‘Yes, I will bake it.'” I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right recipe, providing them with an awesome product, made from scratch, and adding another item to my menu.
It seems that after having Eli, I have grown more and more passionate about preserving history. I guess I didn’t really think about history as much when I was younger; however, I do think I probably valued it more than others my age. I have an idea, and I am so excited to get started with it.
As I have shared in previous posts, I really believe that families should write down all of their recipes. I think a mother should pass down a copy of her recipes to all of her children when they leave home and start their own family. A lot of how we feel about life comes from the foods we ate as children. So this is my idea…
I am going to type up every name in this vintage cookbook that I have and attempt to get a brief summary of who the person was. Who knows, maybe I can even find some pictures! I would love to be able to tell a story about these ladies through what I learn.
Another idea is to cook/bake through the cookbook. This will give me a lot of information for my upcoming official food blog. I am very excited to see it unfold and begin to tell a story about the food and the ladies that made it. Keep your eyes open for more to come.
I would like to welcome Tommy and Patti Alderman of Alderman Farms to the blog as authors. Tommy and Patti have become great friends of ours via the internet. We have shared information about technology, farming, recipes, and baking with each other. We seek to use all that God has given us through our family heritage and the land that He has entrusted us to provide for our family and help others be confident in their pursuit of self-sufficiency.
As you know, Family Heritage is a topic of passion for me. The Aldermans have a wonderful heritage, and they share that heritage with others. Take time to check it out.
Patti Alderman is a homeschooling mother of four whose knowledge in the areas of budgeting and thriftiness, gardening and small-scale farming (“homesteading”) has been a sought-after resource among her friends and family.
Patti learned at the feet of those whose lives span decades of living off the land the old fashioned way, using simple, time-tested techniques (see Acknowledgments), and it is her desire to pass that information along to a new generation just beginning to feel the need to become as self-sufficient as possible. Patti also strongly believes that budgeting plays an important role in self-sufficiency, in that adherence to a family budget spurs creativity, forcing one to learn how to “make do” rather than whipping out the credit card to purchase the “easy” solution, which is often the “expensive” solution.
Tommy was graduated from LSU in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, which he says explains why his police reports were longer than those of his co-workers. “The Lt.’s hated to see me coming with a folder in my hands,” he jokes.
And though his education was focused on formal English, he’s more likely to speak and write in his native tongue, “Redneck.”
What a privilege we have as parents and grandparents! And what a responsibility! Can you think of a better way to spend two hours on a Sunday afternoon than following behind a 16-month old Farmer-in-Training? I can’t, and there are a few thoughts I’d like to share with you, after the jump.
Click to read more —> Train up a Child…
What food legacy will you leave behind? Fast food, microwave dinners, prepackaged meals, left overs? After being gifted with the talent to cook and bake basically anything I want, I have started considering the legacy that I WOULD have left behind if God hadn’t gifted me with such a talent. I have cooked most of my adult life, but it was really basic cooking. I still am no gourmet by a long shot (not that I would want to be). My legacy would have been one of super-sized menus and prepackaged meals.
Somewhat out of necessity, I started really watching what I purchased when grocery shopping. I made a rule for myself–buy only things that you have to cook yourself (and no, Hamburger Helper doesn’t count). Not only did I notice that my grocery bill dropped, but my cabinets and freezer were nearly always full. Add to that good news, a home that smells like “from scratch” cooking, and the combination is a little hard to beat. I can’t even remember the last time I purchased a “prepacked” meal. The only thing I buy that would even get close to that would be the meatballs that are already prepared for you. I like meatballs over hamburger meat fried out, and they taste good. The time investment in making them myself would cause me to avoid meals with meatballs, so I felt that one diversion was ok.
Magazine titles such as “Cook’s Illustrated,” “Cooks Country,” “America’s Test Kitchen,” and “Mother Earth News all played an integral role in my success as a home cook. While I haven’t studied them a lot, I have gleaned a lot of knowledge from their helpful pages. Now, I am not intimidated by those who cook well. The process doesn’t confuse me. I have organized my kitchen, so I know where everything is and it’s comfortable for me regardless of what dish I am conquering.
Now, the family heritage project. I have started a project encouraging people to write down the recipes of those meals they enjoy for the sole purpose to pass them along to the next generation. Yeah, it takes a little time to write it all down, but it is very much worth it. Not only are you leaving instructions to a memory they will likely want to relive again and again, you also helped to instill better eating habits (as long as your recipe isn’t how to heat a frozen pizza). 🙂 So here is the first card in my family heritage project.
As a part of my Family Heritage Project, I am writing down everything that I cook–as I cook it. I don’t measure anything when I cook for my family. I go exclusively off of taste. I seldom ever use recipes, unless I find one in Cook’s Illustrated that I just can’t go without trying. I am building my personal recipe collection to pass along to my son, so he can recreate some of the memories that we made together with his children/family one day. Yeah, I know. I think WAY ahead of the game, seeing how he’s just 8 months old. 🙂 It’s never too early to start. As a matter of fact, starting early actually increases the likelihood it will get finished one day. If you don’t start, then you could forget you even wanted to do it until it’s too late, and you’re saying, “I wish I had written my recipes down for him.”
Well, I am all about sharing the bad with the good, so I share warts and all here. If I mess something up, I share that I did. For one, someone can laugh with me about it. Two, I can pass on to you what I learned about the process. So here goes…brand new recipe. A concept. I was wanting soup, but also wanting black beans and Spanish rice. Why not put them together?? This could have worked if I had known what would happen, before it happened. This is what I learned about making black beans, chicken, and Spanish rice soup.
1. The rice will absorb almost ALL of the water you put into the pot. Even if it is 4 times what the recipe calls for.
2. Two 1 lb packages of Spanish rice will feed a small country when you use 4 times the water called for.
3. Onions will not cook through before the rice burns to the bottom of the pot.
4. Boil onions with chicken in the beginning.
5. Cook rice as directed in a separate pot and add at the very end.
6. When your husband says, “Whatever Mommy is cooking smells really good” to your 8 month old son, it’s time to pull it off the burner because within the next 5 minutes, he will say, “Something’s burning” right about the time you say “Uh oh” when you smell the char.
Burnt! Yep. The rice that had completely cooked was heavy having absorbed all that water I guess and burned to the bottom of the pot before I realized it. Smelled like coffee. I quickly pulled the pot off of the stove and poured it into a cold pot hoping it would only be the bottom portion that was bad, but if you’ve ever had something burn to the bottom of a pot of liquid, the liquid will always have that smell.
Once I changed it to the new pot and completed my process, the smell wasn’t quite as bad. What’s bad is that all of that soup (that could have fed a small country) is now in the trash because while tolerable fresh out of the pot, surely it wasn’t going to be tolerable the next day. EWW.
So, that is what I learned from my recipe creating session today. Not everything I try will work out, but everything I try, I will learn from. I think I know how to merge the two together next time, without the coffee undertones. I’ll let you know how it works out when I get the nerve up to try it again (and can forget that coffee smell).
I have gone in search of vintage recipes. The problem is that all I find are cookbooks printed by magazine companies, churches, etc. What I have learned in the process is that most of us (me included) cook meals that our family looks forward to, but we do it without a recipe. We just DO IT. This is what I want you to do…I want you to have someone in your family sit and document what you are doing. Yes, this may feel a little odd for you. You will actually pull our those measuring cups that you never use–not to be sure you use enough of something, but instead to tell your recorder how much of it you are using. Have them document your steps, being careful to include the time for prepping, the time for cooking, how thick you cut your items (roughly), and any small details that may mean the difference between success and failure. Don’t worry about documenting brand of ingredients unless the brand really has a lot to do with the outcome of the dish.
When you finish your recipe card, share it. Maybe even have someone in your family cook it for you by following your recipe to see if you forgot to add anything. This will be the first of your personal collection–your family heritage collection. Something that follows us throughout our lives (the memories from the foods we eat) is being missed. How many times have you heard, “I wish I had a slice of grandma’s carrot cake.” Well you could if grandma had written it down. Think about the future generations of your family. WRITE IT DOWN.
In an attempt to encourage you to pass along your recipes to those you love, I am going to be creating a number of different printable items for you. I am calling this project the “Family Heritage Project.” This first printable is a recipe card. It is my first, so give me your feedback.