Those of you who know me, or have been reading my blog for a while probably know that I love to bake! I am by no means an expert baker, it's just something I enjoy doing and learning more about. While visiting my parents this summer, I went through my grandmother's and great grandmother's recipe files, which I've been meaning to do every time I'm here. I love old things, especially old family treasures like this, and besides finding some new recipes to try and being reminded of delicious memories from my childhood, it got me thinking about some other things too.
I find it so interesting how much you can find out about family, traditions and even culture and history, just by going through some old recipes. Let me tell you a little bit more about these particular recipes... my grandmother was born in the late 1920's in Czechoslovakia, and my great-grandmother at the end of the 19th century in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. Many of these recipes are from the first half of the 20th century during which Europe experienced two world wars, and it's interesting to see how much of that is reflected in these recipes. Cooking was much more frugal and women had to get creative and use whatever they had when there were wartime rations; the recipes didn't use as many eggs or butter or other ingredients that were expensive or rationed at the time, and yet I found so many delicious looking recipes, showing that women still wanted to feed their families well and keep a state of normalcy in their homes. It's interesting to see how everything, even cooking and domestic life was affected by things like war.
It was also fun seeing what dishes that my grandmother used to make we still make today, and how certain holiday traditions continue. I still make the same gingerbread cookies for Christmas that my grandmother used to make many years ago (you can see pictures HERE!) All the recipes have a little note on them to say who they were from, maybe they were from a neighbor, a friend, an old aunt... but it shows how much people shared life together, even just exchanging beloved recipes, and how important that community life was. As the recipes were passed down from one generation to the next and as families grew, the traditions continued and were added to, and the recipes continued to be written down, and passed down again, holding not only delicious and secret culinary information, but precious family memories, which may just be even more important. Because even though I now live thousands of miles and an ocean away from the kitchen where my grandmother and her mother cooked, as soon as I put those same ingredients together in a mixing bowl my kitchen is filled with the warm and familiar aromas that bring me back to where it all started.
And I guess that's part of the reason why I write this blog today, and why I love reading all the other wonderful blogs out there. It's a way of capturing what you love and sharing it with others, and hopefully creating and continuing something that many other generations will come to treasure in years to come! Thanks for stopping by today and reading along, I would love to know your stories and memories from your kitchen too!