We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe Boxes, Cookbooks and Linda's Orange Wheat and Nut Quick Bread

The Memory Keepers by Linda

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and intertwined, that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one. ~ MFK Fisher, The Art of Eating
   There has been much discussion recently in print and on the internet about cookbooks becoming a thing of the past. The New York Times featured an article this past week in its Dining and Wine section written by Julia Moskin entitled, "Are Cookbooks Obsolete?" In the same vein, one of the food bloggers that I follow, David Lebovitz, had this to say in response to this topic in his post that arrived in my inbox a few days ago:

"It's interesting reading some of the talk regarding if the internet is ready to replace cookbooks. Sure, there are people furiously clicking around wherever they can for a chocolate cake recipe. And there are hundreds of thousands of chocolate cake recipes that you can find using a search engine. But to me, that's not enough. When I want to spend my precious time and funds making something to eat, I don't want to merely find a recipe. There's nothing compelling about a downloadable list of ingredients. It just leaves me cold. I want the author or writer to tell me about the recipe, what inspired them to create it, or how it came about."

   I couldn't agree more. As someone who has over 300 cookbooks at the ready (I am not kidding), my cookbooks feel like old friends that I wouldn't part with for the world. Lord knows that I have lugged them along on every move much to the dismay of the movers that I have hired to haul them to each new location where I have taken up residence in the last decade. Each cookbook represents a time in my past, the place and with whom I purchased it, or a particular interest of mine at the time. The book might also have been a cherished gift from someone that I love who knows my passion for food and cooking. The ones that I use often are scribbled with margin notes, and contain my changes or additions. It is my hope that my collection of cookbooks will be passed on to the next generation of our family of cooks who will smile and have a wistful moment when they run across a smudge of chocolate and read the notations made long ago in my less than elegant script. I experienced just such a moment just this morning. I shall explain...

   For our second Thanksgiving post we are sharing a recipe that came to us from our maternal grandmother, Maxine. Our Nana was born in Redlands, California in 1914, and did volunteer work for the Redland's Assistance League for over 30 years beginning in the 1950s. The history of the organization is that in 1931 a group of women came together with the common goal of wanting to improve the lives of those in need. A constitution was prepared and the name Assistance League of Redlands was adopted. As part of the active social service program, work was begun at the Community Thrift Shop. The organization is still serving the community today. Nana attended the Camellia Luncheons that were annual charity fundraisers for the group. Each year, the ladies that attended the luncheon where given a recipe card set from the menu. Each set of cards contained all of that year's featured recipes.

   These sets were printed in pink, on white cards that could be easily placed in each attendee's personal recipe box. My Orange Wheat and Nut bread evolved from one of the Camellia Luncheon recipes from the luncheon in 1979. It would seem that these once ubiquitous recipe boxes have also become, for the most part, a thing of the past. That said, I am not letting go of mine. Even in its present rather shabby state, it is a treasured possession. My recipe box is about 30 years old and contains recipes that I began copying by hand in my early twenties. In those years, Nana would often send me handwritten index cards with a new recipe that had captured her fancy, included in a letter along with a crisp twenty dollar bill. As a new bride married to a college student, I struggled from paycheck to meager paycheck which I earned by working at the university in the accounting office, to make ends meet. Those letters of love and generosity from my grandmother were such welcome gifts. Many years after her death, my recipe box still contains the old Camellia Luncheon cards tied at the corners with colorful bits of ribbon that she saved for me, and her own handwritten recipes signed off with her trademark version of a happy face topped with a hat and flower.

   This morning as I searched for the Camellia Luncheon cards to take a photo, I pulled out one of Nana's handwritten recipe cards. I ran my fingers across the faded ink, and then held it close to my heart for just a second. In a leap across time and space, I am standing by her side in her turquoise kitchen with large bay windows that overlook the Redlands that she loves... the very kitchen in which we made so many meals together when I was old enough, while we laughed and shared secrets as pots bubbled joyfully on the stove.
   Our Salvation Sisters' blog is our way of keeping those memories alive for ourselves and our children, and for the generations to come, who most likely will not have such a recipe box. This is our virtual recipe box, and we offer it to you with love. We have so much to be thankful for... from Michelle, Juliette and Linda... Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Linda's Orange Wheat and Nut Quick Bread

   It was surprising for me to realize that I have been making this delicious quick bread for nearly 30 years. This is a great choice for holiday baking because making it it so darn easy and fast. It goes well with almost any dinner, and makes surprisingly good toast in the morning. The toast is a perfect match with your own homemade marmalade. This bread was one of my signature loaves when I baked at the Los Olivos Grand Hotel. I always made as many extra loaves as was possible, because guests would taste it and then ask to buy a loaf to take home. I like to take it along as a gift for the hosts of any party or gathering. The loaf is very moist and not too sweet... it is not a dessert bread. Make sure to refrigerate any leftover bread, and then it will keep well for at least a week. This recipe will make one big loaf or two small. I usually double the recipe and make 2-3 big loaves. The bread is best when sliced thick and served with soft or whipped butter.

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
the grated peel and juice from one large orange
1-3/4 cups buttermilk (if the batter is too stiff at the end add another 1/4 cup)1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup chopped walnuts
toasted wheat germ

1. Adjust rack to center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. 
3. Combine orange zest, orange, buttermilk and egg; stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened. 
4. Stir in the walnuts. Do not over mix the batter.
5. Coat one large or two small loaf pans with spray oil. Generously sprinkle top of loaf or loaves with wheat germ.
6. Bake small loaves for about 40-45 minutes and a large loaf for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The loaves may need to be shielded so that they do not become too brown.
7. Cool loaves on wire racks for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Continue to cool on wire racks. The bread keeps well for several days. After one day, refrigerate the bread.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed reading this. It's amazing how recipes have survived relationships in my family, and present a tangible thread, binding us together across the miles and years. I've held many a tired recipe card close to my heart, missing loved ones. The handwritten recipes are the best!


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