Sunday dinners meant much more than a meal. They were a glimpse into family history.
•This miracle food belongs on your shopping list.
SUNDAY AFTERNOONS MEANT FAMILY TIME SPENT ON MY GRANDPARENTS’ FARM.
A sprawling swath of green space in Arcanum, Ohio, where my brother, cousins and I ran like wild, exploring every crevice of the big octagonal barn, creeping through the neighboring cornfield and splashing across the little creek that babbled along the property line. We always had plenty of energy to spare, fueled by the country dinners my grandmom, Joice Bernhard, plunked down on the table each week—heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, buttery corn, green beans, thick Amish egg noodles, ham loaf and my favorite dessert: black bottom cupcakes.
As kids, we’d pile in Grandmom’s car after church, clamoring to hear the afternoon’s menu. A true Midwestern girl, I adored these stick-toyour-ribs meals. They were the highlight of my culinary week—even better than pizza night.
Back then, as much as I revered the food that was made, I was much more interested in playing another round of hide-and-seek than what was going on in the kitchen. That was grown-up stuff. But as I look back, now that I’ve developed a love for cooking, I wish I’d spent more time watching, helping and learning the down-home recipes Grandmom knew by heart. Cooking has always been an expression of love among the women in my family, and when my grandmom recently showed me the prized 1911 edition of her mother’s
Inglenook Cook Book, I realized that the food we hunkered down to every Sunday was an extension of my family’s history.
The cookbook has been loved, for certain. A few pages have fallen loose, and the spine clings to the book by a thread, but inside, the recipes—well over 100 years old—are ones I recognize so deeply. They’re a glance into to the home kitchens of my heritage.
I never knew my great-grandmother, but scouring the pages of her cookbook, running my fingers along the handwritten notes in the margins, it’s as though she’s right there in the kitchen beside me.
I now live states away from Grandmom, those big, country dinners reserved for holidays or special visits, but when we’re together, making the same dishes I cherished as a child, I feel right at home. Maybe it’s the comfort of slowing down and sharing a tradition with a woman I greatly admire. Or maybe it’s the sense that my greatgrandmother is there with both of us, in some way, as we carry on her legacy.
“We all treat these recipes as heirlooms.”
Laughing all the way while baking a batch of Taste of Home’s Black Bottom Cupcakes.
This early edition of theInglenook Cook Book has been a part of the family for generations.