I decided to embark on this blog/cookbook after my mother passed away. She had very few possessions, but among them was an almost unlikely family heirloom – the cookbooks her mother had given her many years before.
I remember, as a teenager, my mother receiving the first of the typewritten cookbooks from my grandmother. My grandmother was very fond of both cooking and writing, so when she acquired a new typewriter, she decided to pair the two passions. She set up her typewriter in a corner in her basement and took on the project of typing out her favourite recipes to share with her daughters. The cookbook also included copies of recipes from my grandma Donna’s mother, my great grandma Linda.
She added to the cookbook over the years, to the point that it sort of became two cookbooks. She would send newly typed recipes and photocopied recipes she thought my mother ought to try. And many of them, she did. And as my mother held on to and used these recipes over the years, she added to them with some of her own recipes and annotations.
Looking through the cookbook after my mother passed away awakened my own interest in cooking which has come alive and gone back to sleep a few times in my adulthood. I found old family favourites – Grandma’s shortbread, Mom’s rum balls, dumplings (so delicious with stew), sourdough bread, and more. I almost discredited the whole book as a family relic to be remembered, not used, because basically all the recipes called for ingredients I no longer consume as a (mostly) vegan.
But then I thought about my grandmother and got a bit of the spark she must have had when she set up her typewriter in the basement. A desire to pass on family memories through cooking. So I decided, at the beginning of 2020, that I would set up my laptop in a corner of my living room and type up all these recipes and vegan-ize them, to the best of my ability, and see about giving them new life.
And along the way, I decided I would add some of my own favourite recipes, ones my grandmother in the 60s through 80s would have never dreamed of (tempeh eh?) and my mother would have never wanted to try (tofu, blech).
To convert the recipes to plant-based, I tried to keep it simple, which means direct replacements with conventional store-bought alternatives. I did not attempt recipes to make my own vegan sour cream or cream cheese or butter. I made the decision to leave eggs in the recipes because eggs do very different things, depending on the recipe, and our family currently does eat small family farm fresh eggs. I will try to offer vegan alternatives on a per-recipe basis. Click here for a comprehensive list of my favourite plant-based substitutions.
The other substitutions and adaptations I took liberty with were to make the recipes slightly healthier and, for our family, taste better. My mother and grandmother (before her health-kick in the 90’s) really loved sugar in everything, even savoury dishes, so my goal was to reduce the sugar, possibly increase the leafy greens, and bring out more of the flavours of the vegetables and grains at the heart of the recipes.
I hope this cookbook will be loved and cherished by my kids and theirs – and maybe you too!