My mother-in-law, Gwen Hunt, was a very organized woman. She had file folders for everything you can imagine including one containing lists of her most valued possessions along with the name of the person who would fall heir to that item upon her passing.
Among the items I received are two three-ring binders, filled with magnetic scrapbook pages into which she had carefully placed hundreds of handwritten and newspaper-clipped recipes. Next to them are little handwritten notes about the recipes. She includes each recipe’s origin along with other tidbits of information she undoubtedly believed I would want to know, like for example, how many cookies she baked for her parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration on April 27, 1950 (10 dozen each of six different recipes, neatly arranged on facing pages). Many of the recipes are dated 1942 and, she notes, were in her original trousseau collection.
I stuck these binders away in a closet after we settled the estate and sold the house. I guess I just wasn’t ready to admit that her many years of cooking and mothering were over. Until this past week.
Going from one page to the next has been like sitting down with her over tea, once again. Oh, how she loved to recall names, occasions and “lovely times” with her friends and family. Each one of the recipes reminds me so much of her, and in that I’ve found comfort.
Today, I want to share three of these recipes with you that are just “so Gwen!” The cole slaw was something she would make often and marvel at how much it made, and how long it lasted. It is a winner, for sure.
The cookie recipe includes this note: “This is the recipe I used for many years as the children grew up. They loved them!” According to my husband, her middle son, they still do.
Finally, the Lemon Cake is handwritten on a very yellowed sheet, but still reveals that she received this recipe from Anna Collard of Long Beach, Calif. on May 11, 1989. And, she notes, “This is delicious!”
9-Day Cole Slaw
- 4 pounds cabbage, shredded fine
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
- 1 large onion, chopped fine
- 1 small jar chopped pimento (optional)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons celery seed
Place cabbage, pepper, onion and pimento in a very large bowl. Pour 2 cups white sugar over all and allow to stand while you prepare the dressing. Place oil, salt, vinegar, 2 tablespoons white sugar and celery seed in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and pour over the cabbage mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly. Cover and store in refrigerator for 24 hours before serving. This makes a lot of slaw, which is a good thing because it will keep well when tightly covered in the refrigerator. And it remains delicious for a full nine days!
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup peanut butter, any type
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream together the peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add beaten egg and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar and egg mixture and stir until all dry ingredients are well incorporated. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown. Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.
- 1 (18.25-ounce) lemon cake mix (like Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Lemon Supreme)
- 1 (3-ounce) package lemon gelatin (like Jell-O)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place all ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix with electric mixer set on “Low” until well incorporated. Mix on “High” for 2 minutes. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake approximately 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, make the glaze.
- juice of 2 lemons
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Place all ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well by hand with whisk until all sugar is fully incorporated.
Using a fork or wooden skewer, punch holes all over the warm cake. Pour lemon glaze mixture over the top of the cake and allow it to soak in. No need for further icing. Go ahead and have a piece now, even if it is not completely cool. (You know you want to!) Servings: 8 to 12.