I can’t even remember how long I have had it. It’s just kind of always been there. Through all the moves, packing and unpacking, on this shelf, in that cupboard… just always around. I am almost ashamed of that. Like it’s the lost or forgotten of Andy’s toys…dusty, under all the newest and more desirable and it’s prior AND present value and beauty ignored.
I have a wall of shelves in my basement adorned with all my dining and kitchen goodies. Everything you need for table setting and entertaining…well not everything…but I love my collection and it gets lots of love and use. Holidays, dinner parties, birthday parties etc. I LOVE to entertain and that will never change, God willing.
Recently I went downstairs to retrieve some dinnerware for a family birthday dinner I was hosting and as I was digging around for “just the right” items (and sometimes that takes a while because I am unfortunately a perfectionist!) I was trying to grab something in the back of the shelf and there it was! Like I had never seen it before! Ya know, one of those moments where the choir sings and a light emanates around it? It literally stopped me in my tracks. I put everything down and opened this cookbook. I cannot easily explain what I felt. It was overwhelming. At that moment nothing was going to keep me from looking at this treasure. It took me ALL these years to see its glory. It’s as if Grandma herself took it off that shelf and SMACKED me in the head with it! And if you knew my VERY Polish Grandma you would not be surprised! I think I felt that wooden spoon she used to threaten us with, (but never used because we KNEW not to push her that far), cracking me in the behind and a voice saying “Charlene Sue! Why is my cookbook collecting dust?! Do you know how many years of sweat and joy I put in that book? Now open it up and appreciate it!” I honestly haven’t put it down since.
The cover is held together by duct tape and the pages are very delicate (a revised edition from 1938). As you turn the pages you can’t help but put yourself in that time. The pictures, the terminology, the old smell, her carefully thought out notations, the drips and stains, the carefully organized recipes in all their categories…just a plethora of a time that has almost been forgotten and not appreciated for the beauty that it was.
I love that women are in a place in time of choices. A little girl can grow up and be whatever she wants to be. Many fought for these rights and choices and aren’t we ever so grateful? I do feel, and this is just my opinion, that one choice has gotten a little lost in the shuffle of modern times….and that is the choice of being a Homemaker. I don’t even think I hear that word used anymore and it saddens me because it IS a choice and a wonderful one! I believe it is a choice that doesn’t get the respect it used to and I also feel women who TRULY want to make this choice are somewhat misunderstood. ” Hi Mary! So nice to meet you! What do you do?” – “Well, I am a Homemaker, Domestic Engineer, a Stay at home Mom.” – “Oooooo so you don’t work?” – Mmmmmmmmm……???? 😦
When I was growing up I really have no idea why, but my dream was to be a Homemaker. I played make believe Mom and housewife ALL the time when I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait to get married, set up a home and have children. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard “Aren’t you going to college? What about your career? So, what are you going to do with your life?” Now, granted, I did get married way too young due to family circumstances that I won’t get into, and no I wasn’t pregnant lol, but I can truly understand why people may have been worried about my future, worried I may go down a bad path of struggle and regret, but I knew deep down I was living my dream and I was willing to take the chance….in fact, I made it very clear to my husband-to-be that that was my life plan and he had to agree to it before I would walk down the isle! 🙂 Life IS full of struggle and regret no matter what path we take, but I think it’s how we overcome and learn from it all that molds us into what we become.
The reason I believe this has become such a misunderstood career choice is because of the time we live in. It is just about impossible to live on one income nowadays and those few women who may want to be at home by choice just can’t make it work financially…especially when you have children. Those buggers cost a fortune! 🙂 I have had my years of feeling like I had to work outside of the home and I have accumulated marketable skills over the years and did get out there and put them to use…BUT, I never stuck with it because it wasn’t my passion and I was always unhappy trying, so, I tried to earn income in many different ways from home to make ends meet.
Please do not misunderstand me. I COMPLETELY support women in ANY career choice they make…well as long as it’s legal lol, and I DO NOT think a woman who CHOOSES to have a career outside of the home is any less or more than a woman who doesn’t. We NEED to support each other always and respect ALL our choices as the awesome women we are and see their value. As I look through this cookbook I wonder what my Grandma was thinking. Was she happy in her choices? Was she content or did she need more? Did she feel pressure to live the life she lived or was it HER passion? As I read all her little notes and see all her care in every page she saved, every recipe she carefully chose I feel more and more that she DID have a passion for what she did. I am sure there were things she dreamed of doing, choices she wondered about, what-if’s she pondered from time to time, but I can tell you that those times at Grandma’s house were bursting with love. Gave me literally the BEST memories of my childhood. The smells, the tradition, the amazing food, the care she put into every detail. The love and comfort I felt at every event or Holiday at her house stayed with me to this day. I really don’t believe a soul such as she would have been able to make us all feel that way if she wasn’t living her choice OR her passion. If that were the case, bless her heart, she was amazing at making us believe otherwise.
I think I actually just answered my own question. My Grandma is probably the reason, and her daughter, my amazing Aunt Carole, that I developed such a passion for home. Such a passion and a need to nurture and create comfort for all that surround me. I want to make my loved ones feel what I felt during those few and precious gatherings at Grandmas house. And, I DON”T want it forgotten. I don’t want that “choice” to go away. I don’t want that choice to no longer be an option for women who want it, for women who HAVE that passion. I don’t want that choice to be frowned upon or disrespected or not seen for its value. I want to fight for THAT choice to BE a choice in todays modern times for those few who desire it.
There is so much I want to share with you from this cookbook. So I am starting a series dedicated to it. It has SO much interesting material that I HAVE to! Ooooo the recipes! You will not believe the recipes! Not only do I want to spotlight them but I want to revamp them to recipes for “TODAY”. I even saw a few where one of the ingredients was MSG! Good grief! How far we have come!
As I look at THIS picture, this advertisement featuring a young girl so proudly, with the help of her Mother, presenting the most “perfectly” perfected cake to the “MAN” of the house, her Father, and looking so accomplished and joyful! But…I just wonder, knowing the time, was SHE being presented choices? Or was she so gracefully being groomed into what ended up being MY dream…but maybe wasn’t hers?
These are some of the many things I want to explore and share with you and ALL from this amazing cookbook I shamefully put to the side for so many years. Who knew? Who knew I had a magical book by my side just waiting for me to let it shine…let it shine in all of Grandma’s underrated glory. She has been gone, but NOT forgotten, since 2004 and it’s about time I share her priceless treasures and put that precious book front and center where it belongs. Buzz and Woody would be so proud 🙂
Created with love by:
Char Head 🙂