Power Food

Sun­day din­ners meant much more than a meal. They were a glimpse into fam­ily his­tory.


•This mir­a­cle food be­longs on your shop­ping list.


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.

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