Raiding Grandma’s recipe box

 vintage recipes

If you are a fan of Southern barbecue, you are probably familiar with the side dishes that are must-have accompaniments like baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and potato salad. One North Carolina pitmaster is shaking things up at his popular restaurant. Matt Register, proprietor of Southern Smoke BBQ in the tiny town of Garland, raids his grandmother’s recipe box – plus a few vintage cookbooks – to up his side dish game.

The well-worn books he uses to find forgotten delights like succotash and okra stew include a volume of the Woman’s Institute Library of Cookery (dating back to the early 20th century) and A Taste of Central New York (a nod to his wife’s Italian heritage). Register also raids a treasure trove of hundreds of his grandmother’s handwritten recipes. “You can tell she liked a recipe if she wrote ‘good’ or ‘great’ on the recipe card,” he says. 

The chef doesn’t always make the recipes as written, frequently preferring to tweak them to coax more flavors out of the ingredients. Take his creamed corn side dish, for instance. He started with his grandmother’s recipe, which he found overly sweet. His version switches it up by adding brown butter, garlic and fresh basil. “Basil, especially in the summertime with fresh vegetables and salt, is perfect,” he says. 

I need to dig around in my recipe box to find the escalloped pineapple recipe (similar to this one in the EYB Library) that was given to me by my friend’s grandmother, who lived to be 106. It’s somewhat like a pineapple-heavy bread pudding, although with fewer eggs and a lot more butter. It’s a Southern classic often served at Thanksgiving. Have you unearthed any favorite vintage recipes, either from an old book or handed down recipe card?

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  • Rinshin  on  October 21, 2017

    Speaking of recipe boxes, I actually have a huge plastic bin stacked full of clipped recipes dating back 50 years or so from various sources.

  • hillsboroks  on  October 21, 2017

    In our family my husband's grandmother's banana bread recipe is almost sacred. It was the first recipe my daughter called home for when she went off to college. I have tried lots of other (often more interesting) recipes for banana bread through the years but my husband always says they don't match up to his grandmother's.

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