I have this favorite cookbook. It was my Grandmother’s (Nanny) and after she passed away, it was one of the few things of hers I really really REALLY wanted to own. It’s crusty on certain pages and has her handwriting in the margins, even a few scraps of recipes written on a legal pad tucked between the pages.
Nanny taught me to cook, sew, cross stitch and how to erase the twang from everything that passed my lips. She joyfully took me to the library and the book store over at Parkway City mall and encouraged me to pick up Gone With The Wind the summer I was 9 and bored. I still love Gone With the Wind.
Nanny had long red polished nails (Revlon’s ‘Cherries in the Snow’) and drove a yellow Cadillac. She was also a beloved school teacher at Weatherly Elementary and was President (if I am remembering correctly?) of Delta Kappa Gamma. Nanny held bridge parties and had gaggles of girlfriends. She was fancy, down to earth, intelligent and funny.
Everyone loved her, including me.
There is so much about this book that I love as well. It is a collection of recipes submitted by “Mrs. Robert James” or “Mrs. William B. Warren”. The husband’s name was very important back then (the 1960’s) and that’s how these ladies presented themselves, as the other half of their husband. I’m not sure I’d submit a recipe as “Mrs. Joshua Rice” but it’s definitely something that gets you thinking.
This book is old and worn and pulling away from the spine. I handle it a little more carefully each time I pull it down and know that eventually, I’ll need to do something to preserve it. The inscription on the inside of the cookbook reads, “You’re one step closer to heaven For working “for” the lovely seven!”:
It was a gift from Nanny’s coworkers (some of these teachers you may know!). Mrs Howell, Mrs. Mercer & Mrs. Simmons were all teaching 1st grade there when I was in elementary school. Look at those addresses, know anyone who lives there now? Jones Valley Dr, Woodcrest, Sherwood, McVay, Louis Drive? That would be very cool.
Anyway, I digress!
My very favorite recipe in this book is for Banana Nut Bread. It’s more like cake. Dense and moist and decadent. My Aunt Peggy throws in chocolate chips and my oh my, how it elevates the whole thing!
I had some overripe bananas and reached above my stove to grab this book and something just came over me. I could hear my Nanny’s voice and remember her calling me “Lover” as my 7 year old self reached for a hug. I miss those hugs!
A few simple ingredients later, and my banana bread turned out delicious, as always. That recipe is a winner. Nothing fancy, no subbing out sugar for Stevia. Go ahead and use all 3 cups of white flour- do not muck it up with almond or coconut flour. When it says 1/2 cup shortening and butter, go get some Crisco out of that big blue tub.
Just go ahead and make it just like this. It is devine.
Cheers, Nanny! xoxo