It’s what the home revolves around. The dinner table, the meal and the people around the table.
Cooking and baking have always been part of my family. My maternal grandmother moved to Michigan with her family at the age of 13 from the hills of Floyd County, Kentucky. She was the oldest child of six, and while I’m sure she may have helped her mother with cooking, baking or preserving, those tasks were not the focus for her. She helped take care of the younger siblings, and once she came to Michigan, she started working in order to increase income for their family. After meeting the man she fell in love with, they eloped and set up housekeeping at the family farm with his parents. My Grandma Myrtle learned to cook from her mother-in-law, my Great-Grandma Olive. Many nights she would help Olive in the kitchen, and then go upstairs to their area and make my Grandpa Daryl the same meal.
My mother, Wanda, was an only child. While she lived in both worlds of working with horses and helping in the house, she learned many skills in food preparation. She was a member of 4-H and entered cooking in the county fair in the 1950s. It was at a 4-H event, a multi-county dance, where she met my father, Dan. They were engaged the spring of my mom’s senior year and married the following February. My mom had only been 18 for three months when they got married. My dad always said that one of the reasons he married my mom was because her mother could make a great pie, and if she could cook like that, her daughter must be able to as well!
My father’s mother, my Grandmother Warner, was the wife of a salesman, specifically corrugated barn siding. My grandfather was gone from home most of the week working in Chicago, so my grandmother ran the family farm. While the Hoyt family farm’s “crop” was draft horses for farm work, the Warner family farm’s was swine. My father was the youngest of three children and had many adventures around the farm. My grandmother moved to Florida while I was young, so I didn’t spend as much time with her as I did my Grandma Hoyt.
And then there is me! My parents instilled my brother and I with a work ethic that included gardening, animal husbandry, household chores and helping others. They also were avid history buffs, and each vacation consisted of visiting various historical areas throughout the eastern US. Williamsburg, Gettysburg, Frankfort, Boston. These are all places we learned about and visited as children. My mom also taught me the value of cooking, and what a good meal should consist of. One of the “rules” that I follow as much as I can, even now, is that there should be something of every color on the table for a meal. Meat, potatoes, corn, green salad with tomatoes, and orange jello salad would be an example of how color was utilized for a balanced meal.
The love of history and the love of cooking have merged together over time. I have a huge collection of cookbooks, in fact my husband and two grown children say I am a cookbook hoarder. They have tried to keep me in check by saying that every time I get a new cookbook, I must get rid of two! Sacrilege! So when I discovered this Historical Food Fortnightly cooking challenge, I was really excited. I hope you enjoy my forays into the foods my grandmothers made and the foods my great-grandmothers made for my forefathers!