Tag Archives: Recipes

Butter Tart Recipe


This recipe for butter tarts was passed down to the informant, AS, by her mother and is directly transcribed. Butter tarts are common in the area of Ontario where she grew up (Blenheim), though she says that every family has their own variation on the recipe. Other varieties often include nuts along with the raisins. To AS’s knowledge, they are not particularly associated with any holiday or specific tradition.

Main Piece:

Butter Tarts
Pastry  1 1/2 C sifted all purpose flour  1 1/2 C sifted cake and pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1C shortening  About 8 Tbsp. cold water.
1/2 C butter
1/2 C corn syrup
1 C washed and dried raisins
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
 1 tsp. vanilla
To make pastry, sift the sifted flours with the salt and cut in the shortening with pastry blender until size of peas. Drizzle in water 1 Tbsp. at a time, tossing with a fork, until you can gather it up into a dampish ball between your palms. Roll out very thinly on floured board. Cut out rounds and line medium sized tart tins with them.  Note I would buy tart shells !!!!
To make filling, mix all filling ingredients. Spoon into prepared tart shells, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 425 13 to 15 min. WATCH CAREFULLY.


Family recipes are a very tangible way to pass tradition down through generations. For one thing, parents generally cook for their children, so the recipes have already been integrated into the children’s lives, and once the children learn to cook, they often learn from their parents. If the children later move far away from their parents, as AS did, family recipes can be a great way to bring back a taste of home. I find it very interesting that the informant mentioned that many families in this area of Ontario have their own recipes for Butter Tarts, some with nuts in the filling. The multiplicity and variation establishes Ontario Butter Tart recipes firmly within the category of folklore.

The format of the recipe also speaks to the proliferation of folklore on the internet and its transmission through digital means. During our conversation where I collected this piece of folklore, AS told me she would send me her mother’s recipe so that I could have that exact recipe that had been passed down through the generations, since she did not remember all the details. When she did send it to me, it was in the form of the email that her mother used to send her the recipe in April of 2020, then forwarded on to me. The original subject line is “Butter Tart Recipe,” and reads: “Hi [AS first name] and [AS’s son’s name]:” and then the above copy/pasted recipe. Also attached to the forwarded email I received was the reply that AS sent back, reading, “Thanks Mom! We’ll let you know how it goes.” This illustrates how the internet allows folklore to spread down family lines even when different generations of the family are separated by thousands of miles of distance. The intended recipients of the emailed recipe being AS and her son also informs the idea that AS asked for this family recipe in order to make it with the next generation of her family, to pass on the practice just like her mother did to her.

Chả Giò (Fried Spring Rolls)

Main Piece:

Me: Tell me about Chả Giò or Vietnamese egg rolls.

AL: So, my parents’ recipe to it… I know it from my dad which I think he knows it from his sister, my aunt. I don’t know where she knows it from… We would make this for the restaurant that we own, and uh so what we would do is pre-peel the egg roll wrapper or the rice paper because it came in, essentially, like a sheet of paper but stuck together because it was cold or frozen. And so we would let it thaw and pre-peel it so that it would be easier to fill it… The filling consisted of shredded taro [root], shredded carrots, cooked pork, and clear rice noodles that were cooked already and seasoned with, like, pepper and salt and what not. And then it was mixed and then placed into the wrapper and then folded in a particular way…

Me: Kind of like a pinching. Keeps everything together.

AL: Almost like a burrito wrap. Almost. And you would seal it off with water, I believe. And uhm that would be your… raw egg roll, or Chả Giò. And then you would fry it for… For like 8 minutes… The sauce that it can be served with is nước mắm, uhm fish sauce… Or a mixed soy sauce for vegetarians… Usually, they’re either served at a restaurant or… At a party setting— of like a huge, huge tray of just—

Me: Huuuuge pile of egg rolls.

AL: A pile. And it would be kinda scary to look at but they were usually good, so…


An interview I had with my roommate in the Cale & Irani Apartments at USC Village. He is of Vietnamese descent. We often talk about certain food items from home and bond over them. Although he is vegetarian, he is most familiar with this pork recipe.


These can be made vegetarian, with shrimp, or with pork. I was familiar with these egg rolls and this recipe from my own mother, so it was good to reminisce with my roommate. The last time I had them was over Christmas break of 2021, and they remain one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes, far better and more authentic than ones you find in Oriental restaurants. I like the way my roommate describes it here, and it’s interesting how this folk recipe has been modernized, especially with me being from the South. My sister and I would use sweet chili sauce as compared to the traditional sauces, and we would even make them in the air fryer. My mom would also gift these in frozen batches to her friends on certain holidays, so this folk recipe and piece of our culture was shared throughout with our predominantly white, small town. This small cultural exchange through food alone can bring more appreciation and foster relationship between different communities.


The interlocutor (MP) grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico before immigrating to the US in his early twenties. I collected this recipe from him as he was making it.

DESCRIPTION: (told in person)
(MP): “You have to put a cup of white rice with some cinnamon sticks. I put two in there. You gotta let that sit overnight. When it’s time to make it, you put half in a blender and puree until it smoothens and becomes pasty.

Pour into a pitcher, but you gotta use a fine strainer to take out the liquid part and then repeat for the rest of the mix.

So you do this next part in the same pitcher as the mixture. Put in a can of evaporated milk and a can of condensed milk for the base and add a little bit of sugar for sweetness. I also use vanilla. Then you put in some water. Like 4 cups.

I like to put chunks of melon, pecans, and grapes in it too. very delicious.”

Horchata is a very popular and refreshing Mexican drink! I’ve been drinking this since I was a kid, and in my opinion, it’s best to drink it paired with something spicy. I appreciate this recipe a lot since MP learned this from his grandmother and makes it on occasion for the family. Yum!

Chamorro “Titiyas”

Context: My informant is a 23 year-old woman who is of Chamorro descent. She grew up in San Francisco and moved to L.A. for college. She described a common practice for her family growing up surrounding food, particularly a snack called “titiyas”. Her Chamorro family passed on this recipe throughout the generations. She loves them because they remind her of her grandma. 



“So I’m really close with my grandma, I’m the favorite and vice versa hahaha. But, growing up we would always make different Chamorro food and one of my favorite snacks to have is called “titiyas” and they’re basically..  like sweeter and a little bit thicker than tortillas. Me and my grandma would have it with cheese or butter usually. Recently, I moved away from home and asked my grandma what the recipe was. She couldn’t give me any measurements or anything and said I just had to watch and taste. I mean that is how she learned and she was the oldest girl of 11 kids so she just learned by watching her mom. Sometimes she still sends me “titiyas” in the mail to eat the next day, I love it.”


I loved this story from my informant! It reminded me a lot of how my Cuban grandmother makes “arroz con pollo” (chicken with rice), a popular dish for Cuban people. My grandma never has the right measurements and just goes off of how it looks and smells. It is so sweet how her grandma is able to send her “titiyas” still. My grandma also packs me the Cuban dish every time I go to her house.

It is interesting how this recipe had been in her family for so long and it had still not been written down. This shows how important oral tradition has been as well as how important sharing in person human experience is. Now with technology, you can talk to more people than ever before, but you lose the opportunity of experiencing all the senses with that person. Cooking together at home with family, there is nothing else like it.

Superstition -punching bread before it bakes

Context: My informant (M) told me growing up she had to punch the bread her mother made or else it wouldn’t be good bread, or they would have bad luck-she wasn’t sure which, maybe both. Now, as an adult, she never makes bread alone because she needs someone to punch it before it bakes. 

Main Text: M: When you make bread you have to let it rise twice, once right after you mix it and then right before it bakes after you shape it. In between the first and second rise, you knead the bread, and someone else has to punch the bread, or else it won’t be good. But it has to be someone else, not the person who is making the bread. 

Analysis: I had never heard of this superstition before she told me about it. It seems to me like someone has to give your bread their blessing and approval before. However, this could have started as a way for a mother to entertain her child by letting her punch bread, and it turned into a tradition and then a superstition.