Welcome to The Heirloom Issue. Focusing our winter issue on food culture, tradition and heritage foodways is not new to us. Last winter, for example, we featured a short history of sugar in Texas, a recipe for Southern Hospitality Punch and a story on the origins of the Texas pecan-growing industry in San Saba. The winter months are a good time for preserving the bounty of the late fall and winter harvests, preparing holiday meals in a warm kitchen and remembering things past. There may not be snowflakes on our windowpanes, but we can relax a bit from the grip of drought and summer heat.
Since we have begun giving our seasonal issues a special theme as an extra layer of focus, it just seemed natural to call the winter book The Heirloom Issue.
What is it about pondering our past that gives such comfort? History informs and gives context and meaning to our lives. We learn from past mistakes, creating collective workbooks with outcomes and dividends. We might perfect a family recipe by repetition over one year or across generations, but we don’t let them slip away.
When asking for traditional family recipes for this issue, we found that some recipes are secret and some are shared. Some are passed down across cultures. Jessica Maher’s “Florettas and Spicy Chocolate” recipe, for example, was inspired by rosette irons that were given to her by her Spanish grandmother (who called them florettas) but are used by Jess to make rosette cookies that are Scandinavian in origin. Find them on our cover and in our Confectionery of Sweet Memories cooking section.
Recipes for the masa used in making traditional holiday tamales are from a family friend and passed down from her bisabuela (great-grandmother) giving us “Masa 1” and “Masa 2”.
Hip Girl’s columnist Kate Payne assumed that her German heritage would yield a sauerkraut recipe but discovered that even her grandmother had never made it. She resorted to finding the recipe elsewhere.
A discussion among Wendish noodle makers about adding nutmeg to a traditional Wendish noodle recipe resulted in the conclusion that it must have been a “non-Wendish” relative who stirred that pot.
Jam-maker extraordinaire Stephanie McClenny perhaps best captures this journey to the past to define our future when she describes herself as “a maker of New World confitures.”
Over the past six years we have refined our signature community fundraiser, Eat Drink Local Week, too. This year we have more restaurants participating, pop-up happy hours, an exciting online Chef Dinner Auction culminating in a special live auction event and a memorable keynote speaker in Raj Patel. Check it out at our signature events page and help us raise the most money yet for Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots while enjoying the best of what local foods have to offer this winter season.