Friday, November 13, 2009

All About Carolyn

Carolyn Agnes Trueax Matheson was born on August 18, 1912, and she died August 13, 1980, of an inoperable tumor between her larnyx and spine. She married Roderick J. Matheson on April 25, 1935. They had four boys, Rod, born March 9, 1936, Ed, born December 30, 1942, Louie, born February 15, 1945, and Jerry, born June 15, 1951.
Grandma was born and raised in London, Ohio. She graduated from the old St. Francis Hospital Nursing School in June 1935, and worked in the ER for almost seven years. She quit nursing in 1942 as grandpa told her to quit since she was pregnant for Ed and he wanted her home with the kids. Grandpa had recently become an electrician and he felt he could adequately support the family. I think grandma had always wanted to go back to nursing as she loved it, but it wasn't meant to be. Instead, she spent her entire life taking care of others, which meant she used her nursing skills in many and numerous ways. She was definitely a caregiver in all ways.
Grandma was also an excellent cook, and she made many delicious meals and desserts for her family and others to enjoy. She was always cooking and/or putting up food.
Grandma also made the very best pies you ever ate. She never measured out anything, not even the pie crust, because as she said, "I could do it in my sleep I've made so many". I used to sit and watch her as she'd get out the old red canister that held sugar, the canister of flour, and a can of Crisco. She's measure out what looked like a fair amount of flour and sift it into a bowl, dump in a mesure of salt she'd pour into her hand, and then take a fork and add enough Crisco until it "looked right". After she mixed all together she'd add enough cold water from the tap to make a ball of dough and then she'd place it on the table where she'd sprinkled a goodly amount of flour. Handling the dough with a light hand, she say things such as this: "That's going to be a perfect pie crust" or she'd say, "I got a bit too much lard in that crust". I'd ask her how she knew and she always replied the same, "I can tell by the feel". Well, to a child of eight or nine, this did not make sense. When I was fifteen and sixteen, I was beginning to see what she meant. And now, I tell my kids I know what the pie dough will be like "by the feel", and so I've come full circle and finally understand what cannot be explained.
The one recipe the entire family wishes we had was grandma's vegetable soup. We can all remember watching her can the base, we can say what she put in it, but so far, no one has been able to replicate it, though we've all tried. And since grandma made this up as she went and it wasn't written down, it is lost forever.
I think everyone who knew her would say she was the kindest, firmest, most wisest person we knew. She was exremely kind as she was always thinking of others. She was firm as she wouldn't out up with any back talk or nonsense. And she was wise as she always knew just what to say and what we needed to do. Grandma was definitely no-nonsense and couldn't abide tears, tantrums, or fits. She also wouldn't put up with anyone being irresponsible or acting ridiculous. Grandma would tell it like it is, and she would not tolerate arguing or sass. I can't tell you how many times I was chased with the broom, but I know I only had to fetch a switch one time before I learned my lesson of how far I could go! Having to cut your own switch from a bush and getting slapped with it made an impression one didn't soon forget!
I have so many memories of grandma, all like a kaleidescope of film clips that run through my head and leave images that are so homey and warm. Most of us have these memories and they are precious and good.
I will post recipes in further posts.

Cry Babies

Beatrice "Bea" Lovella Lowe Matheson was born in 1879 to Joseph Lowe and Mary Cave. She married Roderick Garnet Matheson around 1906-1907, and three children were born of this union: Mabel (Mary) Katherine in 1908, Roderick Joseph in 1910, and Edwin Henry (or vice versa, can't remember the order of his name) in 1912.
I have very vague memories of my great grandma, including vague memories of her funeral, in February of 1966, when I was just a bit past six years old.
Grandpa remembered coming home from school with the scent of these Cry Baby cookies in the air. These had been his favorite cookies as a child.

Cry Baby Cookies

1 cup shortening^
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup black strap molasses
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
5 cups flour (unbleached)

*Original version: Mix well. Drop by Tbls. on greased tins and bake in a quick oven.

**My version: Cream shortening with sugar; beat in egg and molasses, blend well. Alternately add soda water and flour, beginning and ending with flour so batter does not curdle. Drop by Tbls. onto greased cookie tins and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

*Tips: These could easily be dressed up by sprinkling sugar over the tops prior to baking. You could also make these a ginger spice cookie by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, and a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. These could also be less strong by using a lighter molasses. This recipe can also be easily halved, but use the egg and don't try to halve this.

^To make this more heart healthy replace the shortening with lard or palm oil shortening.

In the beginning.........

I was posting recipes of my own, of my grandma's, my great aunt's, and my brother's on other sites, and I realized that I needed a place to put all of these together so they will be in one place and easily located. This site will be a place where I can compile them all for family to come and find what they wish to have.
My wish for the past 22 years or so has been to make a family cook book, but cost, time, and a dead computer brought this idea to a halt. I had over fifty hours of writing time with hundreds of recipes from family members in a computer that went kablooey on me~and I lost everything. It was so disgusting and discouraging.
I do have recipes of my grandma's, my great aunt Effie's, and my great-great aunt Helen's all typed out on paper that was to be put together in a binder, but then I had no time to get back to this project and it has been collecting dust for about four to five years. The dust won't matter anymore because I will post all of those recipes on here. This is easier and cheaper than making a cook book!
I also have recipes that belong to family members who sent them to me in hopes of seeing a recipe book materialize, but instead, I will post them on here, according to the author of the recipe, and this way it will truly be a family site. I will also post my own recipes.
Okay! Now I just have to get busy and post them all!