Beauteous cucumbers without spots are going to be put into cold water over night. On the next day brush them clean, pierce them with a wooden skewer or knitting needle and layer them in Steintopf (earthenware). On top lay the dill, cherry- or wine leaves. Boil water and salt let it cool down and pour over the cucumbers, weight them down and leave in a warm room. If you store them for a longer period of time take the leaves and dill off the top; cucumbers will last longer as the leaves turn streaky easily.
Usually this recipe is created in July or August, when various vegetables are available. Choose in equal parts carrots, green beans, cauliflower, not yet ripe corn husks, further cut celeriac into cubes, pearl onions, 1-2 peppers, several cubes of horseradish, several small firm tomatoes, very small cucumbers or cornichons, dill and tarragon.
Clean and cut the first 8 vegetables nicely (Yes, there is constant advice to prepare the food nicely, beauteous, and prettily. Most of the time it is difficult to find a translation for the old-fashioned adjectives used.) after this boil to medium softness in lightly salted water and place into a sieve to drain. Together with tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs place the vegetables in layers, sorted by colour in glasses. Then pour the initially boiled and cooled down liquid over the vegetables: 4 parts white wine vinegar, 1 part water, and per 1 liter of this mix use 20g salt and 80g sugar.
After 5 days reheat the vinegar to boiling point, cool down and pour again over the vegetables, close with cling film.
Comment: As you can see I transcribe the notes exactly as in my granny’s folder. Sometimes ingredients are listed other times they are incorporated into the text.
Use big matured cucumber, peel, remove seeds, cut into pieces and rub in salt, let it rest for a day, dry with a clean kitchen towel, then layer with the other ingredients. Boil vinegar and sugar once it’s cooled down pour over the cucumber, put weight on the cucumbers and cover them.* After 8 days reheat the vinegar (boil) let it cool and pour over the cucumbers.
*Contemporary recommendation: At this point put in glasses and can them.
Filter juice through cloth, boil the juice with the sugar, simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes
Fill in canning glasses, close glasses immediately and turn up side down.
In the 40s canning was often done with simply pulling cling film over a class top and then adding the lid. Filling jam, sauces or juice into glasses while hot, so they would not need further heat canning. I leave these instructions out of the translation.
If you have a cold room to store canned goods that might be okay, however, there is much more turning mouldy of the canned goods as opposed to heat sealing.
In summer 1946 my granny went to Agricultural School in Germany to study housekeeping. A couple of years ago my aunt copied my granny’s school notes and all the recipes and gave each of us a copy. For some time now I wanted to translate and digitalise all the recipes. So I decided I am going to translate one page per evening (and already I am lacking behind!) and to add a bit of pressure I will post one recipe per day. I will always prefix granny’s recipes with Summer 1946 because this was the term granny started the school. In between I am going to share some of my most favourite recipes I got from granny.
Because my granny went to housekeeping school just after the war, many of the recipes are appropriate for tight purse strings, making the most out of dishes, and easily home-grown or foraged ingredients. I thought (considering the economic climate) that additionally to getting a waft of German kitchen, a piece of history, a slice of vintage life, and a dish of childhood memories, you will probably find useful tips on how to stretch food and be inventive with basic ingredients.
Just a wee warning: quite often when I ask granny to dictate a recipe she would provide measurements in the following way: some of this, and a little of that, and a handful of something. Now I learned cooking by eye measure, because I always watched granny: but I will try to make the measures as clear as possible. Besides, over the years I have figured out that the exact measures are not that important as long as the ingredients are relative to the measure.
For instance: granny’s basic cake recipe
3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of oil
1 pack of baking powder
so if you want to make a smaller cake you only use 1,5 cups of flour and 1 cup of sugar and half a cup of oil etc