On Friday I had a couple of bananas sitting on the bench that were getting a bit old, so decided to make some banana muffins. I haven't made any for a very long time and had to think about where I had my recipe. I got thinking that Mum made them quite often so there would be a recipe in her recipe book. Now, I just happen to have two plastic bags sitting on the floor of my sewing room that contain Mum's collection of recipe books. I still have to go through them and work out where I'm going to keep the ones that I keep - you can't rush these things.
I opened up the book, and sitting front and centre was the recipe for Banana Muffins, funnily enough, written out by me. It reminded me that many years ago, when muffins first became fashionable, I had given Mum a muffin pan for Christmas and included several muffin recipes and tips. I made my muffins and the turned out just fine.
However, it got me thinking. To me, a lady's cook book with those handed down recipes, those provided by friends and those clipped from magazines and papers are one of her prized and most personal possessions. We always speak of jewellry and photos as being things you would take in case of evacuation, but imagine losing all those special recipes.
I am extremely lucky to now have in my possession a few of these.
The most recent I've received is Mum's. Hers is the grey one. She would never profess to be a great cook and I don't think it has generally been something she enjoys, but she can make a mean slice and was an expert at making preserves and old fashioned puddings. The old Commonsense Cookery Book was Dad's from before they were married. He was a bachelor until his 40s so found this useful. He has added hand written recipes and cuttings. There are a couple of recipes that he use to pride himself on making, as they were a little finicky. I'll have to give them a try one day.
The first one I received was my paternal grandmother's. She married in 1914, so this dates from then. My aunt had it and used to use it. I would request to have a look at it when we visited and one day she gave it to me, as I was the only one who showed any interest in it. The embroidered cover is very fragile now.
This one was Mick's paternal grandmother's. It is more recent and doesn't hold all that many recipes, but it is nice to have something with a sample of her hand writing. That is another feature of these lovely old books - to see the beautiful writing from another era.
Finally, I have my maternal grandmother's, dating from the late 1920s. However, it is packed away at the moment. It is a black exercise book.
On Saturday I decided to make some plum jam, seeing it is the right season. As making preserves is something Mum has always enjoyed she came over for the day to give a hand and supervise.
The first thing she said was that she needed an apron. Well, fortunately, her aprons are also sitting in the sewing room waiting for me to work out what to do with them. You should have seen the smile on her face when she was presented with one of her own aprons. Mum always wore an apron at home and I suppose I just don't realise the joy this simple action could bring.
It makes me realise that although common sense says to declutter and cull a lot of these things, I will have to keep some. If that is all it takes to keep an old lady happy it suits me.
We happily sat at the bench chopping and chatting away and I didn't get much of a look in when it came to the stirring. Yes, we were using her jam pan too.
We ended up with a nice batch that should keep us going for a couple of years. Mum took a jar back with her for her breakfasts. Apparently she slept very well that night. It was a big day compared to her usual day at the aged care facility. I think she had a great time. I know I did.
If I get a chance we will also make some tomato relish, as we've just about run out.