walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

The Recipe Binder Project: Tracking a Wild Recipe to Its Den

I have this crappy red plastic 3 ring binder full of page protectors, in turn full of random recipes accumulated over our lives. I've decided to treat this as a Project. Just like I collected scattered pictures and frames, got some on the walls and most of the rest into binders, I'm going to sort through this paper detritus and turn it into a binder that you can actually _find_ recipes in, and also get the Good Ones up on my online cookbook.

First things first: throw out recipes for dishes that I would refuse to eat. There were a bunch of ham recipes (my first husband and one of my long-term boyfriends loved ham; I never did. R. is indifferent, altho he thinks hambones have their uses, notably for split pea soup) that went straight into the recycle bin. There were recipes that when read carefully in middle age were clearly Ridiculous (why I didn't see that in my 20s and 30s is beyond me). And there were recipes that I had another recipe for the same thing that I really liked and had no desire to tweak further (banana bread).

Then I extracted a recipe I am actually excited about, one from my childhood.

http://www.seanet.com/~rla/cookbook/basque_bread.html

As I read it, I thought, there is No Way there is anything about that recipe that is authentic, except perhaps the bake it in a covered metal pot part. In particular, the cut out a piece of foil thing smelled to high heaven of 60s and 70s era magazine recipes. So bring on the google; let us track this recipe to its birthplace.

Which turned out to be insanely easy. I checked out a few pages, most of which just repeated the Lore (typical). _This_ one, however, sourced it.

http://portlandpeeps.blogspot.com/2012/02/sheepherders-bread.html

The history of recipes is a lot like bad etymology: everyone (hey, I do it too!) feels compelled to tell you stories about how they started cooking this recipe and family tradition, but the cold hard truth is all these things came out of magazines. The good news is, this blogger actually asked mom-in-law, and mom-in-law passed along the magazine clipping. A Sunset! From the mid 1970s. Totes believable.

"When I asked my mother-in-law for this family recipe, she included a 1976 article from Sunset magazine where I learned about its history."

"The recipe my mother-in-law used was one that was supplied to Sunset magazine by Anita Mitchell. Anita won the bread-baking championship at the National Basque Festival in 1975."

Unlike Young People making this 1970s era (when people thought having 4 kids was a normal thing to do back then, and everyone who knew any Catholics at all knew at least one family with more than 8 kids in it) recipe in 2014, I understand that 9 1/2 cups of all purpose flour is a Lot of Bread. And I also understand that the important component of the technique is the cook it in a pot part.

So I'm now sitting over here thinking about a stainless steel pot I have that I could make a Wee Basque Loaf in, and contemplating how long to expect the much, much smaller loaf to cook in that smaller vessel.

It's sure funny seeing a bunch of recipes mention "salad oil", a staple of magazine recipes of the time, but never referred to as such any more (it would be vegetable oil, and that's assuming it isn't specified further).
Tags: daily activities, decluttering
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