Packaged Goods

What’s a heritage recipe? All in a name, perhaps. When my daughter and I were making these pies, we were discussing the recipes…

“Do you remember your pumpkin pie recipe by heart, Mom?”

“No need…it’s on the back of the label of the E.D. Smith pumpkin”. Other foods that have solidly established themselves in the family repertoire are pie crust (Crisco), and the special squares we make at Christmas (Eagle Brand Condensed milk). For a family that cooks and eats healthy and local, we seem to be more than happy to rely on distinctly non-local influences for the holidays. Many of these were established as packaged foods were just taking off…and some when any food was rationed and out fore-mothers learned to work with what they could get.


The last anecdote we shared was probably the best. Daughter and boyfriend were making their first Christmas cookies – shortbread. Each insisted their Mom had the best recipe, and set out to investigate. After their phone calls each sheepishly shared the source of the treasured family recipe – the back of the Canada Cornstarch package. Both moms were using the same “best recipe”.

What does this teach us? That the foods we love have been taken over by huge food conglomerates? That we can’t make recipes up by ourselves any more? None of the above. What it tells us is that love and holidays, for many of us, are bound up in the foods we eat. And sharing them with family is beyond compare. So thanks for the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Cranberry sauce, apple pie, Roxanne’s stuffing and potatoes, Dan’s chocolate cake, Beth and Eric’s salad, Portuguese chicken from Dad and Kath, and more…so good we’ll do another version with Mike and Aline later today. Happy Thanksgiving, all!