There’s a lot of strength in a woman I’ve never met.
My mother in law, Pat Hyde, lived in Eaton, Colo. She was in Busby Berkeley movies, an expert swimmer, married to a guy who had been an All-American in college football, Ken Hyde.
Because my husband John passed away, I acquired her possessions. There is a remarkable photo of her, in attire for the movie Footlight Parade.
It has been framed, and hangs proudly in a room in my house.
She left a recipe file, and I once looked through it, not finding anything to my taste.
(When you own a food business, you of course think your inventions are above anyone else’s.)
She left a somewhat battered red and white Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
I took it out one day, looking for a recipe for buckwheat pancakes.
That idea was a little unusual for me, because I don’t much like pancakes. But I do like the flavor of buckwheat. I have memories of very early years on the farm when mom would fix buckwheat pancakes for us.
They were divine.
There were, of course, recipes for buckwheat pancakes.
And in the back of the book were things I would call finds.
A farm girl learns many things some might find common.
You learn how to plant vegetables and flowers. You learn that rows should be planted on a hill horizontally, never vertically.
You remember, as I did this morning, that a salt shaker, overburdened by excess moisture, really needs rice inserted, to dry out that very important food additive.
Looking at the Pat Hyde cookbook, I found several items that I admit, surprised me.
Did you want to know how to make furniture polish?
Here’s a clue.
You take, one third cup each pf boiled linseed oil, turpentine, and vinegar. You mix them together, and shake well.
Before using, you “pour on soft cloth to apply. Wipe completely dry with another clean cloth.”
Then, a “cat tail recipe.”
For this, you need “one pint cheap varnish with stain.” You mix this with two pints paint thinner.
Then, you “dip one cat tail at a time, count five and remove.”
The final act: “Put in a large container and let dry 24 hours.”
Now, I thought I had my act together when I had a food business and catered for people on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Catering for 200, 300? No problem.
You just need to master the art of multiplying, right?
One thing I never tried was preparing lamb to feed 200.
This recipe, contributed to Pat Hyde by her friend, Dorothy Brown, in 1957, I give to you.
You take 40 pounds of lamb. Use “five large onions, diced.”
Then, five cans of tomato paste.
You, of course, add salt to taste.
(So love the old way of specifying measurements).
Then ¼ cup of chili powder. One large box of oatmeal. (quick).
You simmer this “slowly, two hours. Stir often.”
You cook the lamb, breaking it up. Then you add the other ingredients.
If you think this little tip isn’t enough, there is also a sauce. This, from Mrs. John Wilson, also contributed in 1957.
Ingredients: one Tbsp. butter, ½ onion, pepper, 4 teaspoons sugar, one teaspoon mustard, one teaspoon paprika. One half cup ketchup, 1/4 cup vinegar, ¾ cup water, four teaspoons Worcestershire.
You take this combo and “bake 1.5 hours, oven slow 250 degrees.”
Not expecting a large crowd?
Don’t think I can be of much help.