Tag Archives: Family recipe

Apple/Pear Cobbler Recipe

Main Piece:


CobblerToppingWhipped Cream
– Butter or Crisco for Baking Dish
– 2 1/2 cups peeled, and sliced Granny Smith Apples
– 2 1/2 cups peeled, and sliced Bosc/Asian Pears
– 3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
– 2 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
– 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
– 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon of Allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
-4 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
– 1/2 cup of Self-Rising Flour
– 1/2 cup of Sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
– 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
– 1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
– 1/2 cup of Sugar (Powdered Sugar is best)
– 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). Prepare a 9×9 inch baking dish.
  2. Toss the apples, pears, sugar, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a large bowl. Add to the baking dish and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the self-rising flour, sugar, salt, and egg. With a spoon, drop the topping onto the apples/pears and top with pats of butter. Bake until the topping is golden and the fruit is tender (about 40 to 45 minutes).
  4. Serve with special whipped cream!

Background: The informant is a 54 woman who loves to cook, as she often serves this apple cobbler at Thanksgiving. She originally came across this recipe from her mother, who used to cook the same dish for the holiday as well. She claims the recipe has been passed down generations, and because of that holds a special place in her heart. She will continue to cook the dish, and plans to pass the recipe down to her daughter when the time comes.  

Context: The informant showed me the recipe in person when I was at her house. 

My Thoughts: Although this recipe is nothing special, the fact that it has been passed along throughout the informant’s family makes it special to them. It is something they, as a family share with one another, and serves as a unique way for her to always remember her mom and grandma. They’ve all experienced cooking the same dish for Thanksgiving and having to deal with the pressure of it meeting their families expectation. In addition, I find it interesting to see if any of them made small changes to the recipe. The informant claims to have not. However, she did share with me that her mom added the whipped cream aspect to the dish. The dish has been served for over 60 years within the informants family, making it quite the staple for their Thanks Giving celebration!

Cajun Seafood Fettuccine


Recipe: Seafood Fettuccine

Make normal fettuccine noodles and then in a separate saucepan, you use velveeta cheese, the kind that comes in a mac and cheese mix and you take the shells out and just use the cheese. You mix it with whole milk or any heavy cream and then dice tomatoes, onions, and celery and then cook it in the sauce.

Then take the seafood, can be crab meat (usually) or shrimp or crawfish. Then you add cajun seasoning which is usually paprika mixed with several other spices. Use Nunu’s if you don’t want to make it yourself.


    This is a Cajun recipe for a dish that my girlfriend grew up eating. She is from the south where seafood is really prevalent. This dish’s recipe was passed down from her father’s side. Her father is italian, hence, the fettuccine. 


My girlfriend was cooking a dish that she makes a lot so I asked her if she had a recipe for it. It turns out that her recipe was a traditional recipe that spanned several generations. Although she is creole, not cajun, her father might have lived around other Cajuns and picked up this recipe. 


    The prevalence of seafood in many southern delicacies is probably due to a large amount of protein available from the sea creature lush coasts that the southerners were close to.

Recipe for Channa Masala


Channa Masala

450 gms tinned, cooked channa or 2 cups of channa soaked in water overnight. Cook in 4 cups of water and salt to ½ teaspoon Salt For approximately 3 – 3.5 cups cooked channa

1 small onion chopped

¼ teaspoon ginger 

¼ teaspoon garlic 

Grind all the above three ingredients to a paste  —-(1)

¼ teaspoon cumin seed powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

¼ teaspoon chilli powder

¼ teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon Aji’s masala powder

1 large tomato diced into small cubes

3 table spoons coriander leaves chopped finely

2 tablespoons oil

Heat a large heavy bottom container; add oil, followed by paste 1.

Saute` till pink or light brown in color. Add tomatoes, 1 tablespoon coriander leaves, turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin powder. Saute until the mixture starts to look rich brown and the oil starts to separate. 

Add the cooked channa and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until flavors blend. Add coriander leaves and serve hot with rice. 


This is the legendary recipe for Chana Masala  (chickpeas in spices) passed down through generations on my mother’s side. This is my favorite food and my mother’s favorite food and so on. 


This recipe has been passed through the ages. It isn’t exactly something that is unique to my family as all of India has their own takes on Channa Masala. This shows multiplicity and variation in the folklore. Interestingly enough,  there is a “secret ingredient” in this Channa which my mother calls Aji’s masala powder which means “Grandmother’s spice powder”.  All this time, I thought it was my grandmother’s spice powder, but now I realize that it is just  a term for a special secret mixture of spice powder that was passed down from my grandmother. 


    Recipes are interesting pieces of folklore as they are so important to survival. Food permeates through tradition and generations. An interesting thing about food is the multiplicity and variation in each instance. For example, my mother’s cooking varies from day to day and every time she makes the   dish is slightly different from the previous time. 

Recipe for Passover Kugel


–  Can of Peaches

– Cinnamon

– Eggs (however you like them)

-Matzoh Bread



D.F. – “So this is the recipe for passover Kugel.  And uh, this is different from regular kugel, because regular kugel has leavened noodles in it, and that’s a no-no for passover. So:

    • Instead of using noodles, you use matzah. classic.  We also like to use Frosted Flakes, but, uh, not for passover.  Instead of using Frosted Flakes, we just use more sugar.
    • Basically you crush the matzah (or just get crushed matzah which is easier because smaller pieces).
    • You . . . put eggs together with the matzah and mix them together, and add corn starch to make the eggs and matzah rise together a little.
    • Also we use cinnamon, that’s important for kugel.
    • You need a big batch of this, on a huge pan, and you pour your combination of ingredients into the pan across the whole pan
    • You’ll also get canned peaches, set the peaches of every square of kugel that you’re gonna cut out.
    • Put it all in the oven for a long time, and eyeball it.
    • That’s some passover kugel.”


This is definitely something I’ve had before.  Although this person’s recipe is happy in it’s relative straight-forward-ness, I must disagree with it’s simplicity.  When my family makes passover kugel, we include all different types of spices from all over the world, just for the sake of having a crazy taste that will knock us all down.  That’s how I prefer my kugel.  Oh, and with way more peaches.

Why We Cut the Ends off the Pot Roast


This piece is not actually a recipe, but a humorous anecdote about a family recipe.

Main Piece

My mom would would tell about how her grandmother I believe it was had the recipe for a pot roast that got passed down and it was, you know, it was dictated by her and written down and continued for a couple generations which, uh, included, after the, the general preparation and seasoning, uh included the instructions “cut off the ends of the pot roast” and then put in the oven at whatever temperature it was supposed to be cooked at. They did it dutifully until somebody, someday asked, finally: “I don’t understand what this does to it — cutting the ends off. How does that help?” And she said “Oh you know, otherwise it doesn’t fit into the pot!”


This story gives insight into how family/folk recipes are developed, and how a seemingly random or arbitrary part of the preparation may originate out of necessity: obviously, not everyone’s pot would be too small to cook an entire pot roast, but the members of this family followed the recipe verbatim out of respect and trust for the grandmother, even though the cutting of the ends only applied for her personal cookware.

Iraqi Traditional Family Meal

Marc’s mother, as I said, is of Arab descent, so I had a feeling that his mom would have some traditional recipes that she has had passed down. Marc told me about a dish that his grandmother home-makes, and taught his mom, and something that Marc has at all family gatherings.


Marc told me about his family recipe for his favorite dish. “Its something that we usually eat whenever our family gets together. It’s called Hameth Kibbee ‘d Girsa. They are kind of similar to meat dumplings. The stuffing inside the dish is what my grandmother taught my mom, it has chopped meat, spices, and homemade vegetable sauce. You then can make the outer shell out of different types of wheat and then you stuff it with the center stuffing, making it almost like a dumpling or ball. My mom has added her own twist to the recipe trying different spices and stuffing, it is one of my favorite family meals”


Background Info: Marc explained how his mother makes this Iraqi dish almost at all family events, but she learned it from her mother who also helps make it at many events. It’s a rare dish, but one of his family’s favorite.


Context: Marc told me about this tradition while we were in his apartment hanging out during small talk.


Analysis: When Marc explained this dish, it did really sound like the Asian dish of dumplings, or shumai. He explained how it has a very middle eastern type of flavor, as opposed to a very fishy flavor like traditional dumplings. This sounded very good and diverse, and Marc’s mom promised to make them for me one day.

Sad Cake

Main piece:

9×13 Pan
2 Cups Bisquick
4 Eggs
2/3 Cup oil
1 to 1.5 teaspoons Vanilla
1 Box brown sugar

Beat eggs and oil until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat in brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Add Bisquick. Bake in a greased 9×13 pan at 350 degrees for about 30-40 min. However, be sure to check with a toothpick. Cake will fall upon removal from oven. This is part of its charm.


Recipe originally written by Elizabeth Bassa, Laura’s mother-in-law. Laura continues to bake “Sad Cake”.


Sad Cake is a charming desert which is comparable to the better-known “blondie”. The name Sad Cake is derived from the falling action of the cake which occurs when it is removed from the oven. As a result, the cake is very dense – especially at the middle of its pan.


This is a simple, tasty desert recipe which can be made with minimal preparation or supplies. It is accompanied by a name which makes it special, and something of a novelty.

Italian Family tradition

I asked Mae her earliest memories of traveling to Chicago to visit her extended family, she responded:

“My great- great grandma moved to the U.S. directly from Italy so obviously they had a really Italian family and they ended up living in south side Chicago. She owned chickens, and every Sunday she would go into her coop, ring a chickens neck, clean it kill it, and make pasta Bolognese using the meat.”

I then asked, “When did you first learn the recipe or heard about the story?”:

“I must have first made the Bolognese sauce in 4th grade. I know I didn’t hear the story until later because I remember in 9th grade for an art class I did an art painting about my family and I painted a chicken head on the front”


Background: Mae is a 19 year old girl raised in Westwood, CA and currently living in Los Angeles, CA. Her parents are originally from Chicago and Little Rock, and she lived in Princeton, NJ briefly as a young girl.

Context:Mae shared this story with me while we were cleaning the dishes in our apartment.

Analysis: It is incredibly easy to overlook elements of someone’s culture that affect their folkloric practices simply by never asking questions. Mae is one of my closest friends, and I had no idea that her grandma immigrated from Italy or lived in south side Chicago. Understanding where someone comes from culturally and geographically creates the opportunity to really understand more about their identity. Hearing this story about Mae’s grandmother I felt like I was seeing a new side of her and gaining a clearer understanding of the origins to her stories she tells every day. I was reminded of recipes I have learned from my family members that have truly become a part of my own identity and my family’s identity like my mom’s banana bread and my grandmother’s scalloped potatoes.


Main Piece: Chili

The following was a story told to me by a college of mine, RD, and I am DM. The story was about a family recipe that was passed down that she learned to do on her own.

RD: Every Christmas Eve we have tamales and it’s just a tradition we’ve weve for as long as I can remember we eat tamales but uh her specific salsa she told me always had to go on her tamales otherwise I would be cursed so um to this day even if its not one of her tamales I need her salsa to put on it otherwise I can’t eat it cause I don’t know I feel like something is going to happen to me.

DM: Do you know what’s in her salsa?

RD: Yes I do.

DM: Can you tell me?

RD: Sure so its uh a couple different kinds of chiles she puts um jalapeno then she put habaneros and then she puts cilantro and tomato and onion salt and pepper. I think that’s it. Yeah I think that’s it.  


The participant is twenty-eight years old. She is a Mexican American assistant principal at a high school. One day she posted a picture on instagram of her making her grandma’s recipe from scratch. I wondered how long that family recipe was passed down in her family, so I asked her about.   

DM:Why do you like sharing this recipe/Why do you know this recipe/ Where/who did they learn it from/ Why is this repice important to you?

RD: Cause he salsa is the best salsa I’ve ever  had in my life um even when I go to Mexican restaurants I want it know. I don’t know if its because she’s convinced me that it has some special power or just because I think it is really good. She was also really important to me and she’s has alzheimer’s so um it’s like definitely not the same person as when she kind of gave me the story so I feel like it’s kind of a way to keep that part of her.

Analysis/ My Thoughts:

I think this story was actually very similar to what we were debating in class about oral versus written folklore. Her grandmother’s recipe book in her head with becomes something authored by her. She won’t be giving it to another else but her family. Instead of being an oral book it will now become something physical that can be passed down within her family. It raises the question of who the recipe book belongs to. The recipe book is hers, but the recipe book is her grandmothers. As it gets passed down, will it raise the question of where these recipes came from.  

Grandma’s secret recipe

Background Information: Justin is a senior at college, and he grew up in San Francisco. His family on his father’s side is from Hong Kong, and they used to run a noodle stall while they still lived there. Now, his father works in real estate, but some family recipes still live on. I interviewed Justin about a ‘secret recipe’ passed down from his grandmother.

Justin: So, um, there’s… So my dad says a lot of like, “secret recipe this, secret recipe that”, but usually he’s making it up, but, one time, during I think, Thanksgiving dinner with like, my extended family on my dad’s side, two of my uncles brought some kind of, um, zha jiang mian (炸酱面), um, that they’d made. And, I thought it was pretty good and I was wondering where they got it, and my dad tells me that… “oh this is actually like a family secret recipe, like for real this time”. Um, and… they actually made it like, buying the ingredients and putting it together, and… whatever else you need to do to make the sauce. And, apparently it’s passed down from my grandma, who used to make it, or… she and, um, the rest of my… the rest of her kids, including my dad I suppose? Used to make it, because they ran a noodle stall in Hong Kong before they moved here. And so they made that, and it’s pretty good. And so when they came to America, and they were looking for work, um, one of the restaurant owners that my dad ended up working for as a waiter, offered my grandma a job? But, she couldn’t take it, because the sauce is really labor intensive, and you—you couldn’t make restaurant quantities of it with just one person, but she wouldn’t teach anyone else how to make it. So, she had to turn down the job.

Thoughts: It is interesting to me how protective Justin’s grandmother was over her family secret recipe. She was unwilling to relinquish ownership of it to the restaurant. This is reminiscent of the discussion we had in class about authorship and folklore. If Justin’s grandma had taught the restaurant her secret recipe, it would then belong to the restaurant and become standardized and institutionalized as a dish of that restaurant. Instead, it remains within Justin’s family, and can have variations and different forms.