From Mildred’s Kitchen

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The Lester family in 1942 – my dad is in the middle with the dark hat
Little recipe bundle from Aunt Kay

I’ve always been fascinated by my grandmother Mildred Lester and her vintage farm house kitchen. How can I ever forget that two-inch thick dining table, her china teacup collection and Grandma serving little milk cakes with hot semi-dark chocolate sauce for dessert, each baked in individual tins?

Imagine my delight one Christmas when each household in our family received a small bundle of white index recipe cards tied with a fat red ribbon of yarn. How exciting to receive a personal culinary collection that would take us back in time to our grandmother’s kitchen!  What fun to recreate what she loved to cook for her family, menu items to be savored for a lifetime!IMG_0586

The gift was from our Aunt Katherine, our dad’s sister and Mildred’s daughter.  ‘From The Kitchen of Mildred Lester’ the top card said, decorated with an artfully drawn teapot.  The remaining cards were recipes penned in black ink with Mildred’s distinctive handwriting. I assume the recipes that made it into the collection were her favorites and many of them we knew well. The known contributors included Mildred herself, June Lester (our aunt, mother to our cousins Dean and Darrin Lester), friends Jennie Monroe and Belle Tuttle and the Boston Globe. 

The other day I pulled out the little bundle from the cupboard again. It seemed a shame to keep such a treasure hidden away. Like it always has, my grandmother’s unique cursive spoke to me of its own art form. Her n’s and u’s and m’s and w’s all look the same, like the little waves of a simple lace trim that would go well around a Peter Pan collar.

All of a sudden the creative urge to make wall paper out of her recipes hit me! But of course that would be over-the-top labor intensive. Then it occurred to me to frame a few of the cards for my kitchen wall. So I picked out a few to hang in 2 frames I already had, one black and one white.  I spray painted the white one to go with the other because black would make the handwriting really pop. I printed the cards on an off-white paper for a subtle vintage look and then created the illusion of a mat by adhering the prints to an oatmeal colored construction paper.

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The finished product
The back side of the Baked Beans recipe
The back side of the Baked Beans recipe

Before framing I cut out a wooden spoon and a whisk from a culinary themed sticker made by The Rifle Paper Co. and added them to the bottom of the recipes.FTVC4155I hung my new framed prints by the kitchen window next to the cupboard where the little recipe bundle lives. IMG_2448 (2)I like the new look as well as the constant reminder of Grandmother’s recipes waiting for me in the cupboard. What’s more, I will think of her more often as I see her handwriting every day out in the open. APZO9568Now with my constant reminder, I hope to make that milk cake with warm chocolate sauce more often and then tackle her Never Fail Meringue.  (I plan to enlist my mother’s help for that one because I remember her meringue has always been perfect!) Grandma’s card promises “This meringue acts beautifully and never gets sticky. Enjoy.”

What special family keepsake do you have tucked away in your cupboard or attic?  My friend Sharon framed a delicate lace square hand-sewn by her mother and hung it on her wall which made a sweet impression on me. Hope my little creative project inspires you in the same way. Just think of the possibilities!

Chicken Rosemary Potato Bean Soup

(LYRICS ARE POSTED BELOW AFTER THE SOUP RECIPE)

Last night I made a variation of my Chicken Rosemary Potato Bean Soup since it’s September.  Feeling in the domestic mood, I also made a half batch Nestle’s Toll House Cookies and refrigerated the remaining cookie dough for later.  It’s amazing what you find yourself in the mood for when you were supposed to go to the gym! 

A few days later, Andy Stone,  my friend from England (the one who did the painting for my Christmas CD cover) left me a comment and suggested I write a song about it and I thought it was a great idea! As you can see I’ve uploaded the song to YouTube and the lyrics are after the recipe below. 

Shiney Red Bowls

Soup Close-Up

 

Here’s the Recipe: 

  1. Brown small chicken pieces, ground turkey, or lean turkey sausage (your choice) in large pot
  2. Add 4-5 C stock and water mixed with rosemary, thyme, ground pepper, salt
  3. In small pan sautee sliced mushrooms and diced onion then add to stock pot
  4. In the small pan boil (in enough stock to cover) 3 small white potatoes cut in small cubes and 1 C mini carrots till semi soft
  5. Add to stock with 1 can small white beans and 1 C lentils
  6. Low boil to simmer 1/2 hour til lentils, potatoes & carrots are soft
  7. Serve with a yummy bread like Pan Bigio 

Song Lyrics:

5:45 with evening descending
The night before us pending
Glad for the wood pile Stan stacked by the house
Stoke the fire before it goes out

Potato Bean Soup simmers to hot
Throw in some chicken (since that’s what we’ve got)
Light the candle I just bought
Throw the spices now into the pot

CHORUS:  CHICKEN ROSEMARY POTATO BEAN SOUP ON THE STOVE
LET’S ADD THE LENTILS THAT BENJAMIN JUST BROUGHT HOME (from the road)
WHAT WOULD BE PERFECT IS SOME PAN BIGIO (warmed on a stone)
HALF AN HOUR AND WE SHOULD BE GOOD TO GO

Call up Ashley and tell her the soup’s on
Why don’t you bring Billy; stay as long as you want
Or if you can’t stay take some home for tomorrow
I’ll tuck in the recipe so you can follow

Repeat Chorus

End: CHICKEN ROSEMARY POTATO BEAN SOUP FOR THE SOUL

© NancyKellyMusic 2009
Penned September 29, 2008