Family cookbook keeps traditions alive

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Jul 13, 2011 - 05:32 PM

Photo: Judy Harvell has carefully kept family recipes together, and remembers the special occasions that called for them. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

Judy Harvell has carefully kept family recipes together, and remembers the special occasions that called for them. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

Judy Harvell of Gloucester, treasures a handwritten family cookbook compiled by her great-aunt Ruth Cameron and given to her mother Miriam Ernest as a wedding present. It’s an ancient book; Judy’s mother died at age 95 in 2004.

Using its recipes is just one tradition in this family; today Judy holds to the same custom she and her husband, Jim, grew up with, "sitting down at the table for dinner, our evening meal. We brought our children up in this manner and since they are grown and moved away, Jim and I still have our evening meal at the table with no television."

Looking over the family cookbook, Judy recalls those special recipes her mother always served at certain times of the year just like her aunt Ruth, "who was quite a lady. She died at Miller & Rhoads Department Store when she went to buy a pair of pantyhose, which had just come on the market," she relates.

Judy talks about these recipes. "This wine jelly, Manischewitz was the only wine she used, was only served at Christmas time, not other times of the year. Also she had oysters for Christmas morning breakfast. Ambrosia was served at all holidays. Apple pie was something she made a lot of when the apple trees in our back yard were bearing fruit. She used Flake in her pie crust. In her vegetable soup where I use beef, Mother always used veal shin. Can you imagine going to the butcher today and asking for veal shin? I use a lot of things my mother did—Jim says not enough—but it’s my recipe now."