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Recording one’s genealogy can include more than photographs, dates and stories. I feel a strong urgency to document my family’s recipes. If I don’t record them, their history will be forgotten. Recipes are the only thing I have from some of my ancestors. They exist on scraps of paper and memorized in the minds of my relatives. Through discovering and cooking my ancestors’ recipes, I have become acquainted with them. I feel connected by the foods we’ve eaten through the generations. When my hands make the same food as my ancestors, I feel like I’m getting to know the people that came before me. These recipes are a gift that I want to preserve before they’re forgotten and then pass them onto future generations to experience and taste.
When people cook the food of their ancestors, they’re going back to our food roots. Cooking what your grandparents and great-grandparents cooked means the food will be wholesome and simple in nature. The food will be unprocessed and the ingredients will be nourishing. I want to return to this type of cooking, with real sugar, real butter and real ingredients. My Grandpa Dick always told his children and grandchildren, “Work hard, eat hard.” My ancestors were hard workers—the salt of the earth—who deserved rich, nutritious and satisfying meals at the end of the day. This book is a record of my experience trying to build a relationship with my ancestors and discover how they ate, how they cooked and what they tasted.
These recipes have been collected from my maternal and paternal relatives. They’re in order chronologically, beginning with my father’s family, then my mother’s family. Recipes are in order from the oldest I could uncover, to the most recent. I hope these recipes, stories and photos will inspire you cook something nostalgic or to discover your own family recipes.