Friday, February 5, 2016


Double rainbow, Clarkston -- January 2016

“Isn't it funny how recipes float out of the picture, and for no real reason?” commented Chris on a recent post. So true! My mother had a current recipe box with which she worked -- and an old recipe box to which she seldom referred. I always wondered about that. It was as if she had come to a stopping point and started all over. Years later, she bought yet another recipe box and began filing her current recipes in it. Apparently Grandma Portfors (Mother’s mother) did the same thing. She had an old recipe box stuffed full, and the one she was using when she left us.

Perhaps crumb cake was enjoyed at this picnic, 1933
We do not, however, see that in Grandma Ina. It would be totally out of character for her to buy another recipe box and carry on. No, she would sort through the box, ruthlessly toss those recipes she wasn’t using, and then carry on. In fact, there’s evidence that her daughter Lynn (Myrtle) helped her do just that. And knowing Aunt Lynn, she probably tossed a lot of good recipes.

Recipes today are abundant and available on the internet, and saving them digitally, we no longer need to keep recipe boxes. Frankly, I think the lack of handwritten recipes is another way we are going to lose touch with our history.

Grandma Portfors on left
My take on today’s recipes is that they’re over-the-top. I like a good standardized recipe out of a professional kitchen, and I think twice before I save. That said, how many of our favorite recipes back in the day came from test kitchens? Perhaps the best recipes are those shared by family and friends.

If you want to lure me into “Recipe Land,” just suggest that this was “Grandma’s recipe.” However, nowadays when they say “like Grandma made,” they mean me, and that’s no fun!

This recipe for crumb cake I found in my Grandma Ina’s recipe box, and to my surprise, I found the same recipe in Grandma Nina’s box. I’ve served this rich buttery cake topped with a little jam or jelly.

Light Crumb Cake
Put into a bowl:
2 c flour
1c sugar
¾ c butter
2 t baking powder
Mix together to look like crumbs. Reserve ¾ cup.

Add to crumbs in bowl:
2 eggs
¾ c sweet milk
Beat until like cream in color and smooth. Put in pan with reserved crumbs sprinkled on top.
Put in oven at 350 and turn up to 375. Bake ½ hour.

[In the family grouping, my grandparents, C.O. and Nina Portfors, are on the bottom left. Their daughter Dorothy (my mother) is bottom center holding Harriet. The bottom picture is of Grandma Portfors with her siblings, Albert Sanders and Muriel Sanders German.]


Hallie said...

Top photo: my goodness, the two men on the right just have to be father and son. Spitting image!

Kathy said...

No -- not even related and only six years difference in their ages. Farthest right is my uncle, Earle Dobson. The man next to him is Clifford Reed. Clifford's mother is the dark-haired lady standing right in the middle of the picture. And she is a much younger sister of the white-haired lady standing next to Clifford, who is my great-grandmother on my mother's side.

I marvel every time I look at this picture. Sixteen years before I was born, this picture shows my mother, my two sets of grandparents, my great-grandmother, various aunts, uncles, cousins, a great-aunt, and a great-great aunt. Oh, and my eldest sister.

I know -- it's really complicated. Suffice it to say that this was a wonderful occasion, and someone took pictures or we would never know. And then Ina wrote to Vance about it, and he saved the letter, and now we have a few details.

Chris said...

Those "forgotten recipes" are a reason to slowly wade through our recipe boxes, which I did recently. And I go through big streaks of taking cookbooks to bed to read before falling asleep (especially when Dan is out of town--no scary stories to keep me awake), which often remind me of recipes of old to bring back to the table.