Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Genealogy and the Family Recipes

By: Jaymie Leighton
From: The Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series 
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Book 1 Title: A Deadly Grind
Pub. Date: May 2012

I think there are two kinds of people in the world, those who have zero interest in their family history, and those who are passionately interested. Maybe that's a little black and white... I think that some people don't find out they are interested in their family history until it's too late.

But I have a theory. I think you can tell a lot about a family by their family recipes. You know what I mean? Aunt Bette always brings her famous Pecan Pie to the family picnics. And no one would miss Cousin Ellen Fay's Mac and Cheese Salad! Years from now, long after Aunt Bette and Cousin Ellen Fay are gone, family members will still, when they get together, reminisce about those great foods that the family cooks shared.

So I'm doing something about it. I'm going through my Grandma Leighton's family recipe book so she can tell me about the recipes she's saved and used over the years. I want her to tell me why she made those foods, who liked them, who didn't, what they remind her of.

Right now, I'm going to share a couple of recipes that my Grandma Leighton cut out of magazines and saved years ago, and include her stories about them.

First, the infamous Veg-All debacle, as told by my Grandma Leighton:

Would you eat your tuna upside down?
"When I was a young housewife, my sister, Theresa Louisa Armitage, married a Canadian fellow, nice man, by the name of Douglas Bruckheiser, and moved up to Kitchener, in Ontario. She fancied herself a great cook, but Theresa really had no taste buds to speak of. Everything she cooked tasted the same... awful! Anyway, one Sunday night - folks only called each other long distance on weekends, back then, when it was cheaper,you know... we didn't have long distance 'plans', and we sure didn't have cell phones - Theresa called me boo-hooing about Douglas. He had taken one bite of her Veg-All Tuna Upside Down Bake and turned white as a sheet, then went to the bathroom and spit it into the toilet. He didn't say a word, mind, didn't complain, but he didn't come back to the table, either. Later that evening, he suggested they go out to the drive-in restaurant and have a hamburger and chocolate milk shake. Had a nice time, too, far as I could tell. But after all that, what was she going to do with the leftovers, she asked me. 

Well, Theresa, I said, you keep feeding him the darn Veg-All Tuna stuff until he takes you out for a steak dinner. I laughed, but she didn't."

See what I mean? Family history!

Here's another one about my dad and the Sausage Crown my mom tried to make. Sounds weird - the first time I heard about this one, I almost spit out my tea laughing so hard - but stay with me. This was another recipe from my Grandma Leighton's collection of cut out recipes, this one from a Canadian magazine. Grandma liked my mom, Joy Saunders, and wanted to promote her son getting married, so she gave my mom the recipe, one of dad's favorites. My mom, in an effort to get a ring, decided to make it for dad (Alan Leighton) while they were dating. I'll let my Grandma Leighton take it from here.

"Joy... a real sweet girl, but she had no experience with cooking. anyway, that evening, when Alan came home from Joy's place (she still lived with her ma and pa, of course, like any good nineteen sixties girl) he didn't say a word. The next day I asked him how dinner went, and he got a peculiar look on his face.

Poor little Joy was crying when he got there, weeping fit to beat the band, and wouldn't let him in the kitchen. He went in anyway and caught sight of the thing she had made. I guess when she put together the Sausage Crown, she forgot a couple of ingredients and then baked it too long, so what she had was a brick, with sausage fingers sticking up out of it. Looked like a frozen glove, Alan said, the sausage fingers up in the air like little burnt pointers.

Anyhoo, he asked her to marry him that very weekend. Said he didn't ever want her to think that what she fed him was important, or more important than her happiness. So I guess the recipe worked, to catch him, but not the way I thought it would!"

I'll admit, I teared up when Grandma told me this story. It was so sweet, and really reflects what kind of guy my Dad is... one of the solid gold good guys.

So what about you? Do you have any family stories involving food? Funny or touching food stories, ones that will get passed down from person to person? Or just favorite family recipes? Do tell!


Check out Victoria Hamilton online:
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries - http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Twitter: @MysteryVictoria


  1. I have no particular family story to tell. However, I can tell you that I am a fairly good cook. I can make all of our South Louisiana favorites like; gumbo, jambalaya and bread pudding. What I can not do is cook breakfast. I overcook scramble eggs. My grits are runny. My biscuits come out too hard and burnt on the bottom. Luckily, my husband loves to cook breakfast. His best recipes are blueberry pancakes and western omelet.
    I absolutely loved ADeadly Grind. I look forward to the next book in this series.

    1. Glad you liked the book!! I LOVE bread pudding... do you put raisins in yours??

  2. I love your family stories! Thanks for the laugh, Jaymie. I certainly hope you'll be sharing that Mac and Cheese Salad recipe with us. I can't imagine such a thing!

    ~ Krista

    1. Never had mac and cheese salad?? I love it! Mabye Jaymie *ought* to share a recipe for that!