A vintage cookbook just like Mother’s – David’s entry

davids-cookbook.jpgDavid’s entry into our Found Objects Found Art contest…
David writes:

Hi, Pam, here is my entry. This story seems alm0st implausible but is 100 percent for real. Spooky, but real. Here you go…
My “folks” growing up-“Mother” and “Dad”-were actually Grandma and Grandpa. I could not have asked for or been luckier to have had a finer, more loving pair of individuals to see to my upbringing.
Both the folks have been gone for some years now, and for all the things I have as keepsakes I have long wished I’d gotten Mother’s green recipe box and her big thick green cookbook.
There is a lot of odd but specific background that makes this book so dear to me, so please do bear with.
I was raised at 2201 Henry St. in Bellingham, Wa. (remember this for later and stand by with the ‘Twilight Zone’ theme). My Grandfather Larry Guderian (“Dad”) was a Methodist minister for 40 years. My Grandmother Carol (Johnson) Guderian (“Mother”) was both daughter and granddaughter of Methodist Ministers (Darlow and Sidney Darlow Johnson).
Laura, my partner, used to live in Anacortes, Wa. where she owned and operated a marine electronics business. One of my anchor contracts as a marine tradesman is with a large yacht charter business based out of Anacortes (about an hour’s drive from Bellingham). We never met.
Laura moved to Bellingham about the same time that I started working daily in Anacortes. She was at that time still involved in operating Anacortes Marine Electronics and was commuting as well. Who knows how many times we must have been so close together on the same highway? We met, finally, here in Bellingham…both of us feeling we had truly found our “other half”.One of our first dates was to a Goodwill, another to a ReStore, the third to a big annual flea market in Anacortes called Shipwreck Day that occupied all the downtown streets.
Last fall when we were still in the process of equipping our newly-combined household for family use, we went to a rummage sale at the United Methodist Church of Anacortes, which is (theme music, please) located at 2201 ‘H’ St. in Anacortes, Wa.
We got almost everything we needed and a lot we hadn’t thought of, all quite inexpensively. I happen to have a questionably-harmless obsession with old cookbooks and went plowing through the offerings only to find this copy of ‘Cooking for American Homemakers-An Edition of Encyclopedic Cookbook’. First printing was 1948. This one is from 1967, but it is all the same IDENTICAL to Mother’s big, green cookbook. I snapped it up for the princely sum of 50 cents.
Some coincidences, eh?
I have to leave it like this:
Mother made this amazing split pea soup with the leftover hambones–it was my favorite part of the few times a year she baked a ham. I had never been able to find a recipe that got it right nor had a pea soup to compare. Guess what I found in this cookbook!
Hopefully, I bought a ham and made a big Sunday dinner for us all, then had a go at the soup. I modified the recipe from the book hoping I would dial it right in…and four hours later had Mother’s pea soup for the first time in about 20 years. I make it everytime I have a ham, now. Hell-in truth I make a ham so I can make the soup! Laura’s kids look forward to it just like I did, and I make a double batch so I can freeze half for later just like mother did..and everytime I open the pot, stir and ladle out the first bowl, smelling that smell and seeing that thick rich texture, I do really cry just a bit.
This is a wonderful cookbook overall, my favorite, and it came to me in a wonderfully curious way.
Laura and I both have a lot of cool things, fun things, special things that we treasure and enjoy…but of them all, this old green cookbook bought for 50 cents at a church rummage sale is the one I treasure most.

  1. Elvis (aka) Jane says:

    David, that is a delightful and heartwarming story.
    I’m so glad you found the perfect person and the perfect cookbook to share with her!

  2. vacationbarbie says:

    Okay…you know you now have to share the split pea soup recipe with us, right? LOL

    I have a love of cookbooks too.

  3. atomicbowler says:

    OK-here is the recipe. Actually, the recipe from the book with a few small modifications to make it the way Mother did. This recipe is for a single batch, but I usually do a double-batch and freeze half. This is a very thick soup and I like to serve it in sourdough bread bowls, or at least with some good crusty french bread.

    3 Qt water
    3 C split peas, cleaned and rinsed (do not soak)
    1-Ham bone with meat and marrow attached
    1-1/2 C. slivered, cooked ham if available
    2 Tsp. Salt (if adding more ham as above, reduce salt by 50%)
    1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
    1 Lg. carrot chopped or grated
    1 Medium onion, sliced
    1 Stick celery, minced

    Put all ingredients in pot, cook at slow simmer for 3-4 hours or until peas are unrecognizable. The soup will be a bit grainy in appearance, you want this. Most all the marrow should have been cooked out of the bone now–this is important.
    Remove bone from soup, cut off any attached meat and return meat to soup.
    Skim fat before serving, ladle from bootom of pot to top.


  4. Sara says:

    That is wonderful! And the aromas with their warm memories will live on. Cookbooks/recipes have the power to connect the generations, don’t they. Priceless.

  5. Pam Kueber says:

    Yum. You know, my mom and grandma (who lived with us) made a soup quite like this – but with white beans. Great White Northerns, I think. It was my all time favorite and like you, atomicbowler, even better than the ham it came in…Oh, on day 2 there were scalloped potatoes with ham…and on day three – the soup.

  6. Tikimama says:

    I just love these stories that make ME cry along with the writer! I am such a sucker for the near-misses, coincidences and at long-last finding your true love…and mother’s old cookbook to boot! It’s so fun to be here amongst other sentimental people! I got my grandma’s old cookbook, and it is one of my treasures… I’d love to try your recipe, but I’m vegetarian, so I’d have to modify it even more! If I try it, I’ll let you know if it’s any good without the ham!

  7. atomicbowler says:

    Tikimama, you would enjoy this book…keep on the lookout for a copy. I say this because there are an AMAZING number of vegetable recipes in it, some I’d never have imagined and some with veg I have never seen or previously heard of and must be either regional or no longer commercially grown. Anyone know where to get a big tuberous thing called “Vegetable Marrow”? There are a ton of recipes for that alone!
    There are also large sections on pies, cookies, cakes, salads and relishes…even if you were to be a vegan you would probably find some odd-sounding “old-school” (VERY old-school) recipes that are just killer when you dare to make them.
    Thanks to all for the kind words…I have truly been blessed to find as many treasures as I have in such a short period of time. I also collect (sort of) old-school kitchen tools and small appliances. L and I have in a fairly short time (actually a span of about 4 weeks) found EVERYTHING we needed to functionally duplicate My and Her grandmothers’ kitchen equipment both. Some of it I really wanted just so her kids could have experiences (home-made icecream with blackberries everyone picked, hand-squeezed orange juice, homemade hand cut fries, all sorts of things). Mother had an awful lot of things still (all of it really) that she had gotten when my mother, aunt and uncle had been children, and she was very big on giving children educational and memorable experiences. I still remember using the fry-cutter when I was 8, right?
    So, everything I wanted to give Laura’s kids these experiences…we found in less than 6 weeks. Probably spent less than 200.00 total. It really was spooky in and of itself. One day I was lamenting the difficulty of finding a strawberry huller in the thrift stores, and two days later found not one but THREE in the SallyAnn for .29 each…enough to have one adult and two children do it together. There were a lot of goofy experiences like that with the apple corer, the cherry pitter, even my huge combo SS stockpot/roaster. I could go on and on and already have, but all I could really say at the end of the day to my self was ‘Thanks, Carol’. I am sure that Mother had some hand in it all somehow from beyond, and I try to dignify it best I can.

    AB David

  8. Pam Kueber says:

    Wow atomicbowler, with everyone planning victory gardens for the spring given the economy – I think you are on to something big with all your vintage gadgets to put up food. If you have the time – and get the chance – maybe you could send me pics of your ‘grandma’s kitchen’ essentials? that would be a great feature! p.s. I have picked up both electric and handcrank ice cream makers at tag sales super cheap. We actually have a jersey dairy here still. I go get cream, mix it with fresh picked fruit – ice cream that is to die for and yes, a memory the kids will have forever!

  9. Colleen says:

    I was kinda thinking of it as a “Recession” Garden but I suppose since we are at war the old term does fit. (Just doesn’t feel like the motivation/spirit is the same as it sounds like it was then.)

    I tried planting my first Recession Garden last year but the squirrels and rabbits got a much better harvest than I did. This year I am planning on integrating my garden plants in with my perennial beds so to improve the soil I planted a cover crop (winter rye, hairy vetch, and red clover) but the rabbits have found it so tasty that my bed that I planted it in looks mowed! I also visited the Restore here last Saturday and got a window to make a cold frame out of. While I was there I spotted a vintage yellow wall-mount sink…but it had a slight crack in it so I didn’t take a picture of it for anybody. They ARE out there though!

  10. Colleen says:

    Atomicbowler, it sounds like you and Laura are doing a great thing by those kids. I’m sure they will someday pass it along to their kids too! My sister has her kids help make cookies and they all look forward to it. She has made each of them an apron and they all go put them on and jostle for position and stir time! I watch them and think how priceless those memories are they are making. They are also learning other valuable things in the process! I’m sure you are right and someone was listening and guideing you to find those special things.

  11. kaye hansen says:

    your darlow johnson officiated at my grandmothers funeral in 1927 St Helens. Portland, Oregon area.

  12. Ken Lochner says:

    Your father, Larry, officiated our wedding at the Bellingham First United Methodist Church in 1978.

    I didn’t look at the date of your cookbook blog, but I was actually thinking of Larry today and thought I would look up his name and this was what I found.

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