Recipes from family cookbooks
By Katie Scarvey
Every family has its special foods, dishes that help to define them. These are the foods that show up at holidays, family reunions, funerals. In most cases, there’s a recipe somewhere that provides the template for these dishes. Sometimes, the recipe exists only in the mind of those who make it.
My mother’s favorite recipes were easy to identify as I was growing up: they were the ones on index cards that had become stained and spattered with grease or batter or who knows what.
What I learned from this: Never trust a pristine recipe card.
We asked people on Facebook to submit some favorite family recipes.
Shakeisha Holton Gray has a family recipe book compiled in 2007 by Carolyn Keller, her great aunt. It contains favorite family recipes, plus some photographs and a family tree. It’s not fancy — it’s in black and white and the photos are simply photocopied, but it’s a treasure nonetheless.
Shakeisha had some serious cooks in her family. Her great-grandfather and his brother started a restaurant in Florida called Fat Boy’s. It was later sold and became Sonny’s Barbecue. The barbecue sauce recipe is in the book — but Shakeisha said she didn’t think family members would appreciate her sharing that recipe.
Some of the original cooks’ notes have been included with the recipes, like “a dam good Fruit Cake.”
Here’s one of Shakeisha’s favorites, a pie she remembers from many family gatherings.
Hayden’s Coconut Pie (custard-style)
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. flaked or shredded coconut
1/4 C. buttermilk
2 ready-made frozen pie shells, regular, not deep dish
Mix all ingredients together, pour into both pie shells, evenly. Bake at 300 degrees for approximately one hour until nice golden brown.
• • •
Diane Peoples sent this recipe for oyster dressing. It was passed down from her grandmother and recorded by her mother. It wasn’t written down until Diane’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “We have her on videotape trying to give the recipe to us while we all interrupted her,” Diane writes.
“It was what we all looked forward to at the holidays. Even the little ladies in her beauty shop were given a piece on Thanksgiving day — yes she worked then too.”
Armelda’s Famous Oyster Dressing
6 to 8 slices of bread
1 large can of small standard stewing oysters
1 pkg. white Pepperidge Farm stuffing
chicken or turkey broth
Toast the bread and then crumble in a large bowl.
Add oysters, stuffing, eggs and enough chicken or turkey broth to mix all this to a consistency to make into patties.
Make patties, fry, eat and enjoy.
(Diane’s note: “Ma said the canned broth was not the same so she always bought a chicken or turkey leg to make the broth with.”)
• • •
This recipe is from “Nes and Lelia Mae’s Country Cookin’, compiled by Tenika Hall and her grandparents, Nesbit and Lelia Rudisell of Salisbury.
“When I was little and Paw Paw would make peach pie, he would make it early in the day so it could cool down,” Tenika recalls. “It was torture looking at the sugar glistening on top of the warm pie, knowing that I had to wait until after dinner to get some. At dinner, I would put the smallest portions of food on my plate so that I could save lots of room for the pie.
Paw Paw’s Peach Pie
5 C. fresh peeled peaches
1 C. sugar
1/8 tsp. ginger
3 tbs. flour
1 bottom pie crust with top crust
Sprinkle the peaches in sugar and let them absorb the sugar for two hours. Mix peaches with sugar and flour in the pie crust. Cover with top crust. Brush top crust with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour. • • •
Katrina Cowger writes that her grandmother, Hazel Forehand, always had a couple of cakes whipped up when we would go visit her and my grandpa in Panama City, Fla.
Oatmeal Cake has been a family favorite since before 1964, Katrina says.
1 C. oatmeal
1 1/4 C. boiling water
1/2 C. shortening or oil
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pour boiling water over oatmeal; set aside to cool.
Cream shortening (oil), sugar, and eggs. Add oatmeal. Beat that in, then add flour, soda, salt, vanilla and cinnamon.
Grease 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch pan. Do not flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Leave cake in baking pan.
1 stick butter or margarine
1 C. milk
1 C. sugar
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 can coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans
Put butter, milk, sugar & egg yolks in medium saucepan. Cook at low heat until thick, stirring constantly; then beat.
Add coconut and nuts.
Spread over cake in baking pan. Cool.
• • •