This past October my Aunt, my cousin, my mother and I all gathered at my parents house for a little gathering that I dubbed "Old Family Recipe Night." More aptly, I suppose, it should have been "Family Old Recipe Night," but with the aging family members, myself among them, I suppose it was apt either way. It was a night when we each brought a dish to share for dinner, along with recipes, or cookbooks that had belonged to my grandmother (who passed away at the age of 83 in May of 1984).
I thought I was the sole recipient of her cookbook, a blue canvas three-ring binder that must have, at one time, belonged to some contractor who once paid her a visit as it had some sort of file number written boldly across the front in Magic Marker (remember those?). It was full of recipes written by her own hand, some that I had written in a rather forced, childish scrawl when I was about 10 (something I remember doing to this day), and many, many recipes cut from magazines, newspapers, and the back of boxes taped to notebook paper now crumbling and yellowed with age. As an adult, I now realize that she had me copying these recipes as a way to keep me busy when she was babysitting -- clever woman! My Aunt contributed two more of grandma's books, from her later years, with some recipes typed, many handwritten, and lots more pastings.
It was quite a moving experience for all of us, and we learned a lot about grandma that night despite the fact that, unlike me, she wrote no commentary on any of her recipes. Still, paging through her old books we had to laugh as we found not one vegetable recipe, and few meat or chicken recipes. Largely what we found were desserts, coffeecakes, cakes, pies (Strawberry Glazed Pie must have been a favorite as it was found any number of times in a variety of her cookbooks), breads, and cookies. Yes, grandma was the carb queen! How funny that something like a cookbook can be so very revealing.
One recipe that I was delighted to find was for an orange quick bread from the 70's . It was a morning bread that I always remember liking and it had been given to my mother by her friend Willie (for Willisdean) Schebelen about five years before she passed away. I got such a taste for it about a year ago that I asked my mother if she could please search her files for it as I didn't have it in mine and intensive "googling" revealed nothing even close to what I'd remembered. My mother, not a fan of quick breads, told me that she had thrown her recipe away long ago, so I figured it was lost forever. But paging through grandma's cookbooks there it was. Simply called "Orange Bread" and not the "Willie's Orange Bread" that I had dubbed it so many years ago, it had been attributed to both my mother (Jackie) and aunt (Carol), but it was Willie's all the same.
I could hardly wait to get home and bake it. What a rush of memories came flooding back with that first bite! Suddenly it was the seventies all over again. I could hear the high school band playing, the cheerleaders cheering on the team, the sound of my friends splashing as they jumped into the lake, and taste the greasy goodness of the burgers from the local Drive-in.
I don't suppose the baking or tasting of this loaf will evoke any such memories for you, but I think it's something you may enjoy anyway, and while you're eating it, think back to your high school days with fondness.
Willie's Orange Bread
1 cup orange juice (I used freshly squeezed)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans)
1 beaten egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. grated orange rind (I used 1 T.)
Cream butter and sugar; add beaten egg. Whisk together dry ingredients, mixing well. Combine wet and dry mixtures. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until tests done.