Rick Houser:
Once good, always good

Taking a bite out of a food served and immediately the taste not only tells you it is delicious but you know you have tasted this before? We have all had this experience and if history continues to repeat itself as well as the food did we will all be able to consider ourselves fortunate.

You see the odds are the dish you tasted was from a Recipe handed down from a relative or an old friend. Not only do retold stories keep our minds on things past but dishes you have partaken before serve as the event retelling you about a good time that has past but with the dish it will probably never be forgotten.

Rick Houser

When my sister Peg passed away I was given her recipe book or as most folks like to call it their cookbook. I never really gave the book much thought but recently I sat down with that cookbook and when I opened it to the first page there was a recipe I never knew had been penned onto paper. It was my grandma Benton’s’ corn bread! My mom had cooked with this recipe. It was made with white corn meal and in a black iron skillet. Mom made it so often and so much I don’t think she ever read from the recipe. But just to see there is a recipe got my brain to recalling all the times we as a family sat down together and with a pot of soup beans ate as a family. A great recollection to say the least.

That is why a cookbook is so very special. It is my strong feeling that all households should have at least two books for sure. Number one is the Holy Bible as this is the book that we all need to read and learn how to conduct our lives from. But number two should be the family cookbook. I know we had both and I know my home has both. This is just a standard that should be accepted and expected. I know my mom had a cookbook and she had a large collection of recipes for dishes other very good cooks gave to her when she ask for them. Just as my sister Pegs’ recipe book moms also was mostly done in long hand. Many were done on scraps of paper or index cards.

I have seen several recipes that were my Aunt Margaret’s’ and they all were written in long hand. Also my grandmothers who did them in longhand but written in such neat handwriting. My wife’s’ Granny Hall handed down some of the best tasting recipes’ (sausage dressing and vegetable soup) that come immediately to mind and with them so do the memories of good times and good people follow. I kind of recall my Aunt Margaret’s’ cookbook and it was very tattered looking. You see she had used it so much she just plain wore the pages down. As with all good cooks something that is good is always welcome to be made again. (Hopefully!)

These days if you are looking for a recipe for say an apple pie all one has to do is google it and several will appear. But there is no way today’s technology can type in how Eva Jennings made her yeast rolls. So try googling grandma’s apple pie and again a blank will be drawn. I know that as long as I can remember my dad would bring up the fact that mom’s homemade egg dumplings and chicken was the dish that captured his heart and that was why he ask her to marry him. Then he would say with a wink “I still think her mom made them and she just dashed a little flour on her apron to make look like she did” Of course he was kidding but my mom really didn’t have much humor and she would give him a look like it was going to be a lot longer wait to get another serving of chicken and egg dumplings.

It is safe to say that being a baby boomer I am safe in the knowledge that a cookbook will always be around. But as for the new generation I am not as sure. Like I said there is google. Sadly a true and real homemakers cookbook and not the kind bought from a fund raiser or in the department store mostly for display are becoming harder to find. I looked into my sisters cookbook and I see the following. Peg moved away from Fruit Ridge Road and the farm in 1961. She moved a couple hours’ drive away and that was enough to sever a lot of her ties with where she was raised and who she grew up knowing. But looking into her book I see names of folks from where she grew up on the recipes in her book. So that book doesn’t just give you directions on how to prepare a dish it also connects you back to that person who gave her that recipe.

Also when I look at some of the recipes I see that they are now being used by the third or even the fourth generation of a family. But why not? If that dish was delicious a hundred years ago why wouldn’t it be just as good today? Of course the answer is of course it will taste as good. The cookbook is for the most part a piece of our fiber that we have woven into our fabric.

Now I want to say that I am not trying to say only my family or even just my neighborhood that kept a cookbook. Just the opposite. It is a safe bet that almost all families have a recipe book still around. With the world moving at such a hurried pace and the housewives all working, making something from scratch everyday would be beyond believing. But I have witnessed at where I work when there is a carry in covered dish it is wise to attend hungry. It is at a time like this when all the stops are pulled out and it is easy to tell the cookbooks were used!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.