Coming June 9, 2016, Here & Now listeners and visitors will experience our stories and journalism online in a whole new way.
What recipes has your mom (or grandmom) passed down to you? In honor of Mother’s Day this year, we asked listeners to send in recipes that have been handed down over the generations.
The response was overwhelming. Listeners sent us recipes via email, Facebook, Twitter and our website. Everything from spam loaf to “Omi’s Chicken Soup.”
Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst says that many of these recipes can evoke more powerful memories and emotions than family heirlooms or preserved letters.
Some of the recipes, photos and stories are posted below. And please share your thoughts or recipes with us!
Anne Riesenfeld: Omi’s Chicken Soup
A few years back, Anne Riesenfeld of Sudbury, Mass. decided to share her Omi’s chicken soup recipe with friends. Her grandmother, Frieda Riesenfeld, was about to turn 100-years-old, and it was quite a struggle to get all the details of the treasured family recipe.
Omi had survived the holocaust and fled to Amsterdam with her husband and Anne’s uncle in 1939, when she was nearly nine months pregnant with Anne’s dad, Jim. They left for the U.S. in 1940, a few months after the photo to the right was taken, and few months after that, Hitler invaded Amsterdam.
Omi passed away this January, just a few months before her 104th birthday!
My mom is 72, stilling cooking wonderful dishes in the sixth kitchen of her adult life. This is the banana bread recipe she wrote out for me when I got married 25+ years ago. The clear, bold handwriting, the economy of instruction, the sequential grouping of ingredients typify mom’s style in baking and in life. As you see, the banana bread recipe has been well-loved over the years, but it’s nowhere near her most important kitchen gift. She showed me how to use a recipe as a guide, not a master. Her creative use of ingredients and constant tracking of the household inventory taught me not to waste foods, cycling items through original dishes, leftovers and – in a pinch– Cream of Dying Vegetable Soup.. And years of experience with the sounds, smells, and textures of baking mean that even when my mind doesn’t know, my hands, like hers, can always judge when the dough is kneaded and the bread is perfectly done.
Here is a lefse recipe (Scandinavian flat bread) from my grandma Knudtson who passed away last year. Every year, around the end of October, our family gets together to make massive batches of the bread. We make enough to freeze and get everyone through the holiday season. Two years ago my grandma was in the hospital battling cancer during our usual cook date. So the family had to run the show for the first time ever. Note the simplicity of the recipe. It makes no mention that you have to soak the potatoes overnight. You have to rice the potatoes in a ricer, etc. We eventually figured it out, and the tradition continues.
God bless Grandma – and Norwegians everywhere!
Kathleen Hoag: Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes
This recipe that has been passed along to me and my sisters from our mother, Helen Linnea Kullgren. Every Christmas, she made these “Russian Tea Cake” cookies, and I have been making them for many years now myself. These are the best Russian Tea Cakes I have ever had. They are moist, not too sweet and full of buttery richness.
My mother is in a nursing home in Michigan, suffering from dementia and other afflictions. My sisters and I would like to honor her this Mother’s Day by contributing this recipe.
More Here & Now Listener Recipes:
Who doesn’t associate comfort food with their mom?
The following modest recipe came from my Aunt Esther originally, and later became a favorite of my mother’s. (The handwriting is my mother’s from before her stroke in 1986. She died in 2007.) I like it because it uses whole wheat flour. The “45” minutes is my add-on.
P.S. now that it got stained from dozens of baking episodes, it’s finally in a plastic sleeve.
Liz West: Chicken Siegfried
My mother, who passed away in 2004, was not known as a great cook. In fact, my brother says she didn’t cook vegetables — she sterilized them. My mother would arise on Thanksgiving to put the turkey in at the crack of dawn — and we didn’t eat ‘til mid-afternoon, so that turkey was thoroughly cooked.
However, one dish my mother made that I recall with fondness was called Chicken Siegfried. I don’t know the origin of the recipe, but I remember coming home at the holidays after my first year in college to the rich, comforting, familiar casserole. As an adult, I came to realize that the dish contained prodigious amounts of sodium and fat, in the form of canned “cream of” soups, pre-seasoned rice mix and lots of butter. But hey, it was a different time. (And I still don’t know who Siegfried is.)
Emiko Tamagawa: German Apple Cake
Several months after my mother died, a couple of my brothers and myself gathered at the old home in Connecticut. We planned to accompany my father to the cemetery to see the new headstone for her grave. But my oldest brother had one other mission while staying out the house: to find my mother’s recipe for German Apple Cake.
Now my mother made great Japanese food: she was justly famous for producing platters of spectacular sushi for all occasions. But she also was just a darn good cook, for years she was a member of a gourmet club and she was also a great baker. The German Apple cake was one of her go-tos: it was easy to make, looked great, and best of all, only improved with age (within reason, it usually vanished within a week or so). She would not only make it for us, but she also served it to guests and brought it as a to much welcomed gift. I had made the cake once or twice under her supervision and I didn’t think it was that complicated. But neither my brothers nor I could remember where the recipe came from.
That weekend we looked through all of her books and recipe cards, but no German Apple Cake. However, nagging at the back of my mind was a feeling that I should have this recipe. So when I returned to my own apartment I started searching. And sure enough, in my files was a card in my mother’s distinctive script. Looking at it I remembered why she’d given me the recipe: I had just gotten married, and she wanted to make sure that I had a go-to cake of my own.
I made copies of the recipe card and sent it not only to my brothers but also my sister so that we could all have that memory of my mother. However, I’m keeping the original. It’s a good reminder that my mother’s handwriting, like much of her cooking, is so much better than mine.
Karyn Miller-Medzon: Bubby Ray’s Cheese Pie
Our colleague, Karyn, not only shared her recipe with us, she baked up a pie (and it was on her day off!). The Here & Now office filled with the most luscious aroma you can imagine.