July 18, 2013

I don’t think there’s one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner.” – Ruth Reichl, former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet

If you follow this blog, you know that Aunt Ruth never stopped collecting and testing recipes. Preparing delicious food was only half of the reason Aunt Ruth was in her kitchen; the other half was imagining the smiles from sharing whatever came from her oven(s).  Initially, I thought this post would include a lesson from Aunt Ruth or even a new recipe, but I surprised myself.

In photographing Aunt Ruth’s cookbook collection, I was startled by the authors’ names listed as Mrs. David So-and-So or Mrs. Robert Such-and-Such.  Whoa, I was right back in the late 60’s when Gloria introduced women to the option of Ms., and we stopped using Mr.’s name as identification!  One of Aunt Ruth’s favorite cookbooks featuring many of her tested recipes lists the cook’s names as Mrs. Irving, Mrs. Noah, and Mrs. Milton…

Pictured in this blog is The way to a man’s heart, The Settlement Cook Book, a compilation of recipes by (drum roll, please) Mrs. Simon Kander. The book has a chapter devoted to kuchen, another for breakfast cereals, and one for campfire building with instructions on broiling rabbit.  Cool, right?  I only wish that Mrs. Kander's first name appeared in the book.

I don’t want to belabor feminism or even criticize the incredible cookbook authors who predated Julia Child, Ruth Riechl, or one of my current favorites, Tamar Adler, but I think it is worth remembering how nice it is that we can now choose what name we would like to use in any context.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Robert D. Moss, the name stamped into so many of my aunt’s cookbooks.  Aunt Ruth told me that if she could go back in time, she would have finished college and become a teacher.  Her annotated cookbooks have taught many of her friends and our family about which recipes were the best, saving us from endless flop potential and keeping her close in our hearts.

Why not spend time with your mother’s recipe collection?  Or her cookbooks?  Share a day of baking and take what you make to someone who needs cheering.  Be a little Aunt Ruth!  There is so much to be learned from being in the kitchen.

Aunt Ruth, thanks for being such a great teacher!

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