You may be familiar with the premise of this project – take a classic cookbook, cook your way through it, and learn what there is to learn about yourself. Think Julie & Julia, a lighthearted, yet aspirational take on French cooking, love and life in general.
My own goal is not as grand, but just as meaningful to me. For the foreseeable future I will work my way through a cookbook that belonged to my great grandmother Alise – Kristīnes Breikšes “Mājturības un Vārīšanas Māksla” (The Art of Housekeeping and Cooking by K. Breikše).
The book was first published in 1924 with 480 recipes, while its last 5th edition was published in 1935 and contained 516 recipes.
My family owns the 2nd edition of this cookbook (in the picture), published in 1926. Most of it has survived its nearly 100 years, but you can see that it has been well used and a tad abused. My grandmother, who just celebrated her 86th birthday, remembers having this book on the shelf in the kitchen, and not being able to read it as a child; it is printed in Gothic script. In more recent times, book was republished in 2009; this time with a slightly different name “Vārīšanas un Cepšanas Māksla” and modern script. This is the edition I have with me in Australia. It checks out: author’s introduction and instructions, ingredients and methods are the same.
So here it is – 517 recipes, curiosity about how our ancestors used to eat and how cookbooks used to be written. Most importantly, it is curiosity and my possibly last chance to find out how my family ate, cooked, lived and loved. Research for the blog has started conversations with my grandmother who has opened up about both big and small things – from family relationships and her place in it to how her father would come home every day for lunch, always keeping an eye through kitchen window on his factory next door.
I hope you enjoy this cooking journey with me!