Have you ever tried to make a cake or a kugel just like Mom or Grandma used to make? (Or, even harder, just like your husband’s mom or grandma used to make?)
A recent Wall Street Journal article profiles several cooks who managed to recreate family recipes by doing these things:
- Developing a flavor profile describing how the dish tastes, what the consistency was, etc.
- Running recipes by family members for their input.
- Scouring old cookbooks for potential recipes.
- Listing ingredients the original cook would have used by considering her tastes and financial means (some ingredients would’ve been too expensive for everyday use).
- Finding out what ingredients were available in the time and place. Old cookbooks from local churches and women’s clubs are great for this.
- Using the same tools as the original cook, including rotary egg beaters instead of a fancy stand mixer and old loaf pans instead of today’s nonstick ones.
If you’re recreating family recipes, you’ll also want to refer to our list of old measurements and their modern equivalents.
Our book From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preerve Favorite Recipes by Gena Philibert-Ortega, now available for pre-order in Family Tree Shop, has tons of advice on finding vintage cookbooks and recreating recipes.
From the Family Kitchen also covers the social history of food and contains a recipe journal so you can write down how to make Mom’s delicious banana bread.