The Lingonberry Garden

A blog celebrating painting, design, folk art, Scandinavian-American heritage and everyday living.

Recipes with a past

A grandmother's recipe book. The journal ledger is dog-eared and stained, the covers are separating at the spine... the pages inside brittle and yellowing. But the handwritten letters on the pages have their own strength, their own beauty. The recipes were lovingly remembered and written down over a lifetime. Saved... a legacy of tips and helps and how-to's among favored meals. Years and years since my grandmother's passing, the letters come alive.  Just seeing her handwriting, I see her; I  hear my grandmother's voice, I am surrounded by her presence... 

But the book has its mysteries. Layers and layers. Many of the recipes were from a time of wood stoves. There are few keys to time and temperature -- more often than not, the recipe will share the caveat, "cook until done".  Yes, there's been lots of learning-as-I-go.  And some translating -- much of the book was written in Swedish. Some I can figure out, but there are lots of recipes I don't dare try-- yet...

My grandmother came to America from Sweden in 1904 as a 16-year-old, beginning a new journey. For her first 12 or so years in this country, she worked as a domestic for families in New England. She became a cook. A very good one.  Little by little, I've been able to trace her history, following the clues left by the many postcards she collected in her early days in America. 

So, her recipes, her postcards are on-going projects... Chapters yet to be written.  I'm working on piecing together the clues, unraveling the mysteries. And now, her recipes are the inspiration for a new series of note cards for the Lingonberries line. 

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