I originally started this blog over 10 years ago- as a way to capture the stories while our dad, Richard was still available to provide the narrative. I'd occasionally scan some pictures-send them to Dad and ask for some stories. At first, he provided replies that were rich in detail- but as we both got older and life/time got in the way...fewer exchanges were had....I suppose we both sort of lost steam.
Fast forward to the earlier this month- Our beloved story teller and master pie baker had told his last story, baked his last pie and passed away in the early morning of September 6th.
Left behind is a whole lot of stuff...
I give you "Exhibit A"...Martha's carload of memories..
and Exhibit B- Laura's carload...
and once unpacked...
more stuff to sift through...
Turns out our dad was an expert at the "Stash and Dash" approach to memory keeping. We found lots of evidence at "starts and stops" as it relates to memory keeping and organizing those memories.
One such project was what I am calling
The Cookbook that never was.
Stashed in the kitchen cabinet was a manila envelope filled with a Hodge podge of items-hand-written notes, some lists that looked one part shopping list-one part recipe and buried in amongst what looked like junk (at least on first glance) was this cover letter- typed up by Dad-
Dated November 4, 1989
"Dear friends, you no doubt have many memories of Audrey as a good cook. You have visited our house on many special occasions and I am sure there was usually some food available. We spent a lot of time gathered around the kitchen table, the stove or the weber grill.
Your help is requested. Please indicate below the name or a description of some of your favorite dishes from her repertoire. Your ideas will be used to compile a booklet of Audrey's best recipes for the girls this Christmas. Time is of the essence. Please return at your earliest convenience
Sincerely, Richard Granum
Now our mom had passed in April 1988, and at least my memory is a blur of how holidays were celebrated those first few years after...but clearly the planned cookbook never got finished...and based on the findings in the kitchen- never got beyond the "data collection" stage.
But before I pitch the stuff- I wanted to record it here on our stories...
First- we hear from Cousin Craig- He wrote "I just wanted to respond to your letter concerning recipes that I most enjoyed. While I remember the food Aunt Audrey cooked as being delicious, I have to admit that my recollections of specific dishes is rather vague. But for what it is worth-here are some things that I do remember always enjoying very much..." He goes on to list Seven Layer salad, Broccoli casserole, Ham ('not much help,, but I always enjoyed it" he added), Scalloped potatoes and Hot Buttered buns ("always my favorite" was his final comment).
From Cousin Lynn- a 6 page hand-written note (front and back, mind you) that mentions how "I actually recall the company much better than the food from visits to your home". The broccoli casserole got mentioned again (this time, with more detail- which of course is Lynn's trademark feature of any letter sent)calling it "Audrey's Broccoli casserole" (and referred to it as ABC). Lynn also encouraged Dad to include recipes for his signature drinks- daquiris and Tom and Jerry drinks were mentioned specifically.
My money is on that Mom is sipping on one of those two favorites in this photo..
Continuing down the list of cousins, Cousin Ann chimed in- noting "I'll not be much help with the cook book. However, I think you'll have to include the hot buttered bun recipes". She continues to update the family on her thesis progress- slow and frustrating was the theme back then.
Last from the cousin reply- was Cousin Sarah...and she too shared that her favorite is indeed "Hot buttered buns that slide into bed easier".
Aunt Phyllis wrapped it all up with a summary of all the cousins replies- yep, even before there were group texts and email exchanges- the Fraedrich side of the family seemed to find ways to compare notes and sent in similar responses.
Next were replies from a couple of Mom's friends-also known as The Three Musketeers
Connie shared "Mrs. Hahn's chocolate frosting recipe".
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons hot coffee
The letter went on to reminisce how Martha had fixed this for Connie and Shirley one time when they were babysitting her. Apparently, it was during this same visit that Martha was not happy that the ladies couldn't make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich "the right way". Apparently, all was eventually forgiven as both Connie and Shirley remained treasured friends throughout the years...
Shirley shared a curry dip recipe. Audrey used curry? That's a memory I hadn't remembered- as when I think of my mom's cooking style, about the most ethnic she would get was some of her Mexican dishes (reflective of the time she spent in AZ)
But what the heck- let's keep the image of Audrey and Curry dip alive
- 1 1/2 cup Hellman's mayo
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 TBSP grated onion
- 1.2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- dash of Tabasco sauce
Mix together, refrigerate and serve as a dip with squash, cucumbers, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, celery, green peppers, green onions, etc.
Barb Nygaard shared that her memories centered on the baked treats such as yeast rolls (notice how she calls them by their proper name- she's classy like that! giggle giggle), angel food cake, spaghetti casserole for a crowd and Knox Blox.
Laura and the littlest of the Nygaards....Andy circa 1983
Aunt Birdie chimed in adding that "the girls will treasure this booklet and each recipe will bring memories not only of their mom, but also the people who sent them to you and of good times shared" (Preach it, Aunt Birdie!!!!).
I'd say Birdie provided the most detailed narrative adding
This Italian cream cake goes way back to a time we visited for a weekend in Milwaukee. I think, Menomonee Falls. It was a new recipe that Audrey tried. I don't know if she ever made it again or not, but it was very good and I got the recipe from her to add to my file. I can remember sitting around the table after dinner and oohing over this delicious concoction.
There was a master list that included some 14 recipes-some I still will make from time to time (Buckeyes, Family fudge and funeral cake) to things I have no idea what he's talking about (Fire Crackers and Prangees Sour Cream Muffins?)
As I wind up this project...I am reminded of this quote
The Fondest memories are made gathered around the kitchen table...
So while the cookbook was never completed, we are filled with a heart full of memories made at the various kitchen tables!
Until next time...Bon Appetit!