Saturday, September 13, 2014

Revival of Vintage Family Fixin's

Early this spring I started a recipe column in the local newspaper where I worked. I called it Vintage Family Fixin's. I wanted to offer readers a recipe - or two - from the recipe boxes of my late grandmothers. In doing this I recalled stories about these women, and other members of my family, and found that sharing those memories with an audience resulted in letters and telephone calls from those who knew them.

It was the beginning of a great journey for me that ended too soon. After the publication of only five columns, I suddenly lost my job due to an error in a headline that had nothing to do with the recipe column.

I did not have an opportunity to tell any of the readers about my sudden departure or my blog but it is my hope that as I revive the recipe column maybe you will share this URL with someone who might find it interesting.

Over the next few weeks I will reprint all of the columns on this blog.
Here's the first one.


Vintage Family Fixin's

Two Ruths

Welcome to Vintage Family Fixin's.

Today begins with a story of discovery, a theme that has accompanied me through the past year (more about that in a future column).

My late paternal Grandmother Ruth (DeVol) McDonald's recipe box is much like my maternal Grandmother Janice (Day) Watson's attic -- full of unexpected surprises, coincidences or perhaps fate.

Looking through Grandmother McDonald's recipe box last week I ran across a dish called Chicken Cashew Casserole by Ruth DeMarco who in cursive wrote her recipe on a large index card that has two holes punched along the top. DeMarco, hmmmm, I know a DeMarco.


It just so happens that Ruth's son, Steve DeMarco, is a contributor to [the name of the newspaper where I used to work] of news concerning Cambridge Concert Association. We are periodically in communication as I am his contact at the newspaper. We also are friends on Facebook.

So it was a coincidence that my Grandmother McDonald, who died at age 68 on Jan. 20, 1989 -- six months before I came to work at the newspaper -- at some point and time during her life met Ruth DeMarco.

Grandmother McDonald resided in Caldwell and worked in the Auditor's Office and later Probate Court at the Noble County Courthouse.

Ruth DeMarco lived a very active life in Cambridge and passed away in 2008 at the age of 81.

The women were six years apart in age.

So how did Ruth McDonald know Ruth DeMarco?

"Her mother's maiden name was Riddle. So she has/had lots of relatives and friends in Caldwell and the area," said Steve of his mother.

Steve said of his mother's Chicken Cashew Casserole, "I make it often and it's very tasty!"

More meals from Noble County folk will be coming your way because in Grandmother McDonald's recipe box I found recipes from the old Ralston's (Pharmacy in Caldwell), the Club in Caldwell, and some of my grandmother's friends (Wanda Wheeler, Mary Jane Yontz) and my Grandfather Fred McDonald's sister Ruth Smith.

Plus you'll enjoy fixin's from my husband's late grandmother Bea Loos, plus some from my late birth mother Sandra (Watson) McDonald, my late aunt Peggy (Watson) Ruppel, and my mother who raised me Judy (Spitler) McDonald Behringer.

Today's featured recipe is from Grandmother Watson's recipe box. Grandmother celebrates her 88th birthday on March 25. Happy birthday, Grandmother! You are the best cook and I remember you making this soup for me. I'm so blessed to have you.

Grandmother Watson's Fresh Mushroom Soup recipe prepared by me.
Fresh Mushroom Soup

1 pound mushrooms

6 tablespoons butte or margarine

2 cups finely chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 cup water

2 cans beef broth

1 cup dry vermouth (optional)

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chop mushrooms. In large pot melt butter. Add onions and sugar. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in water and smooth until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

P.S. I fixed this soup and my family liked it with the exception of Will, 13, who doesn't particularly like mushrooms. Lee, 11, said, "It's delicious."

Grandmother Janice Watson and me.


Ruth DeMarco's Chicken Cashew Casserole

1 (3 ounce) can chow mein noodles

1 1/2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 breast of chicken (or 8 ounces of any cold chicken, more if desired (cooked chicken)

1/4 pound cashews, cut in quarters

1/2 cup celery, cut fine

1/4 small onion, cut or chopped

Dash salt and pepper

Set aside 1/2 cup noodles. In 1 1/2 quart casserole, combine the rest of ingredients. If cashews are not salted, add more salt. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup noodles over top. Dot with butter.

Bake 30 minutes in 325 degree oven.

Originally published on March 23, 2014; reprinted with permission from the publisher of the newspaper where I used to work.





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