Believe it or not, I authored a cookbook, that is I compiled a cookbook. How this all came about and how part of it ended up being published in a national magazine are stories in themselves–which I will tell now.
When my grandmother, Loretta Duffy, became too ill to live on her own, I helped her move into an assisted living center. This meant that she had to sell off most of her possessions which I helped her with as well. While going though her things, we came across her “recipe box” which was a small cardboard box stuffed with handwritten recipes she had collected in her 80 plus years on the planet. Many of them were recipes given to her by her friends and since these concoctions did not have formal names grandma called them by her friend’s names, such as “Ivah’s Chicken Casserole”, “June’s Freezer Coleslaw” and “Nella’s Cake”. Other recipes were ones given to her by my great-grandmother and some were ones she just made up as she went. When I commented on this box, grandma said I could have it since she would not be cooking anymore. So I took it home with me and went through it. It was like a trip down memory lane for me as I remembered eating many of the dishes as a child while visiting her and grandpa at their small rural farm in Michigan. I thought it would be nice to compile these recipes, call them Grandma’s Favorite Recipes, print up copies and give them to family members so that is what I did. When I would tell people about my project, inevitably someone would ask for a copy, which I supplied readily. Then it dawned on me that I could possibly publish this work and raise some money for grandma.
But where? I started searching for possible markets and when I found some, I began to mail (yes mail) out copies to publishing houses. It didn’t take long to find a willing editor in a small book publisher who wanted to add it to their line of books since it would be their first cookbook. I didn’t tell grandma this until I actually had a copy of the book to show her. She howled with laughter at the thought of anyone wanting to buy her recipes. The next time I saw her, I gave her a royalty check. Sadly, it wasn’t long after that the my grandmother died.
From then on, I gave all the proceeds from sales to my mother. When the small publishing house that had the book in its stable went out of business, I decided to look for another one to carry the title but I had no luck. That is when I had the idea to write a small article about my grandma’s cooking and call it Some of Grandma’s Favorite Recipes. I did this using the three recipes mentioned above and then sent it out to a magazine whose name I do not recall. Months passed, then a year when I finally decided that the magazine was not interested in it, so I started looking for another likely market–that is when I got a letter from Quick n’ Easy Home Cooking telling me that they were going to publish the article. The odd thing about that is that I had not sent the article to them! A phone call later cleared up the mystery. Quick n’ Easy Home Cooking had bought out the magazine I had originally sent the article to and while going through that magazine’s slush pile, they came across mine, liked it, and bought it. They published it in April of 1996 under the name of Nothing Beats Grandma’s Cooking.
By the time Amazon publishing came about, all the rights to this article and to the entire cookbook had reverted back to me so I published Grandma’s Favorite Recipes on Amazon and it has been met with great reviews (minus the troll postings that Amazon refuses to take down). Later, Amazon started up the great Amazon Shorts program, so I published the article on the book under its original name Some of Grandma’s Favorite Recipes. It was huge hit and sold extremely well until Amazon pulled the plug on this program.
All of this started because grandma was such an outstanding cook who decided to give her recipes to one of her grandchildren.
The following is the complete article for your enjoyment. The cookbook is available on Amazon.com
Some of Grandma’s Favorite Recipes
I don’t remember much about the time I lived in Michigan since seven years after I was born in Flint Osteopath Hospital, my parents decided to uproot the family and move to Phoenix, Arizona.
What memories I do still retain resemble a sketchy collage of black and white pictures made up of school events, childhood friends, and visions of places where we had lived. They are the memories that seemed very important to a seven year old boy at the time. Now even those musings are fading. Lately the only firm recollections that are left to me are the ones I have when I think about the times spent at my Grandparent’s farm in the rural municipality of Burton Township.
I still remember the eager anticipation I felt each time my parents drove us along the dirt road that lead to the long driveway which took us to the Duffy farmhouse. I couldn’t wait to get out and play in the snow or pick apples from the orchard that made up the front yard. What I did depended on what season it was at that moment.
No matter what the time of year it was, though, my Grandparent’s house was usually filled with the smells of my Grandma’s wonderful cooking or baking. I remember Grandma always having an overstuffed recipe box with not a cookbook in sight. Many of the recipes she had were ones that were passed down to her from my Great-grandmother who, in turn, had acquired them from her mother.
Grandma added to her hand-me-down collection by swapping recipes with her neighbors and her friends. Often times these recipes didn’t have any particular name as they were the sole creation of the people who gave them to my Grandma. So, she normally just referred to them by her friend’s names.
What follows are three recipes that were given to her by some of these friends. Fixed all in one sitting, they make a fine meal. Who Ivah, June, and Nella are, I don’t recall, but I wouldn’t doubt if they were bowling partners of Grandma’s since that was her favorite sport.
To top this meal off, I added a favorite of my favorites: Brown sugar frosting! Yum!!
Ivah’s Chicken Casserole
1 boned, cooked chicken
1 cup raw rice
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cans of mushroom soup
Use all the broth from the cooking of the chicken and place in a casserole with chopped vegetables. Mix together well and cover top with buttered bread cubes. Chopped onions and chopped green peppers are optional ingredients. Bake 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.
June’s Freezer Cole Slaw
1 medium head shredded cabbage
1 cup diced green peppers
1 tsp. salt
Diced celery to taste
Grated carrots as desired
While letting the above stand 1 hour prepare the following:
1/2 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 cups water
Bring to boil for 2 minutes.
Mix all ingredients together and freeze.
Thaw to serve.
2 cups flour 1/2 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar 1 cup milk
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt 2 eggs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. clove
Sift dry ingredients together. Add shortening and liquids. Beat for 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Add two eggs, beat for two more minutes. Bake in a 9″x13″ 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Brown Sugar Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar 2-tsp. butter
1/4 cup milk 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix sugar, milk, and butter in a pan. Boil for 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Mix well.
(NOTE: This is a glaze like frosting that should be spread on while it is warm, not hot! Let mix stand for a few minutes before frosting Nella’s cake.)