the ladies of st. barbara’s catholic church of vulcan, michigan put out a cookbook each year.
i’ve always loved the thing. the book, with notes from my mother actually lived through a tornado which took mom home. when i found in in the rubble, i swear i heard the voice of my mother say, “this is how you will keep us alive. set the table. cook the food and when you do, tell you children the story of who we were.”
it’s a true story, but it’s not a story for today.
suffice to say, they recipes are sturdy stock, made of things like “oleo and eagle brand”
be 5 recipes for “hot dish”
you’d get one from the pollocks, like the opolkas
one from the swedes and finn, who always want to coat things with catsup and bake it,
the italians, like the spinetti’s and vacellios who’s recipe we be just like the pollocks, but always seemed to taste better.
they must have had a secret.
recipes for things snacks gone for generations now-like “chow chow” and kanadele.
it was “make due with what ya got, kind food”
from miners and immigrants .
in this hole-punched treasure is the recipe or angel candy from jean vecellio.
aaron vecellio was in my class.
he was tall and pimply and his parents own the furniture store on 14.
this is his grandma’s recipe:
1 1/2 sugar
1/4 corn syrup
3 t baking soda
1/4c hot instant coffee
cook till 310 degrees. pour on sheet. cool. break. may be dropped in melted chocolate (which it always was)
there is real magic in the process, the ritual of the christmas cookie. it brings out the best in us.
something about the crisco seems to smooth things over.
when the ladies and their familys bring the confections in tins to the church for the swap-the sugar in the air softens the blow of hurts from the year passing. the time your kid did this or that to mine, or your husband gave my husband the business at work.
it crumbles like-well-like cookies.
everyone has their favorite. mine’s the truffle. it’s not in the st. baraba’s cook book. the recipe is one i found online and it’s prefect and simple.
dark chocolate pieces
my hubby and kids love the peanut butter ones with the kisses and joseph (although he forgets until their on the table) is 100% partial to the russian tea cake.
my great grandma k was a diabetic. a diagnosis which she rebuked and ignored.
bon bons were he favorite.
she kept a stash of them on the breeze way of my grandmas house.
she must have trusted me, becasue i saw her pull the tin and scraf a few several times a day at christmas time.
the aunt’s would talk about the skandle in the kitchen over bubbling pasta sauce.
i didn’t like them much. thought they were to sweet, still each year i roll them up.
i could make them in my sleep. they’re in my blood, i think. funny how that happens. but it doesn’t just happen. that’s why each year i call my kids to the kitchen when it’s time to make “grandma’s bon bons.”
funny too, how someday-i will be the “grandma” behind the bons bons.
life is to short to hold a grudge-or even a secret recipe.
i’ll let you in on a little secret.
i’m sure it’s okay.
it’s amazing how flavors are caught in time.
they way they suspend like baked meringues.
there’s something about it the binds us together.