I can still remember the smell. Those aromas combining to form something irresistible to my nostrils. That subtle smokiness infused with a herby musk, all brought together by the delectable scent of sizzling salmon.
As a kid, my uncle Vinny’s smoked salmon sizzlers were the best thing since sliced bread (or toasted sourdough, to put it more accurately). And long and hard have I tried to replicate that delight since I’ve been old enough to be able to. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations of herbs. I even researched how to Find Top Rated Electric Smokers†and bought the best one to try and replicate that exact tang of smokiness.
But I just can’t get it right. Not exactly, anyway. And sadly, since uncle Vinny passed a few years ago, that secret ingredient may be lost forever.
Luckily, I’ve got plenty else I can eat. Our family has a great history of home cooking. It’s just a shame uncle Vinny’s recipe slipped out the net (sorry). But all families have their own recipes, some passed down from the generations. And this got me thinking: instead of losing this knowledge and family tradition to time, why not record it all in a family cook book? So that’s what I did.
Collecting the recipes
I started out by sending letters to my relatives. Sure, my mum’s secrets could easily be gleamed by a quick phone call. But oldest cousin Billy and gran Dorothy weren’t quite as easy to reach. So I sent a letter asking everyone to send back at least one of their special recipes ñ the older the better.
What’s more, to preserve the legacy, I asked my family to also include a little story about the dishes ñ who cooked it best or family memories of eating it. I figured instead of having just a scrapbook full of text, why not add a little character and color too?
Making a recipe format
To save myself from being inundated with a load of vague guidelines on how to cook these family dishes, I included in my letter a format guide on how to write the recipes. I obviously requested an exact ingredient list and timing detail, but also more subtle instructions that can be the difference between a perfect replica and something else entirely.
Putting it all together
I was relieved that after a month or so I had received several family specialities written out clearly as step-by-step guides to culinary heaven. Sure, I needed more clarification on one or two recipes, but that is where it’s great to get the family together to help. Even my dad, as bad a cook as he confesses to be himself, knew exactly much milk to add to gran’s savoury pancake recipe. Apparently, this is the same dish he used to cook me and my sister every Sunday. He just forgot to add the eggs (to see the importance of adding eggs to pancakes, watch the video below)!
My dad’s pancake revelation aside, this process brought so many great memories back – not just for me, but for the rest of my family. It felt like our families legacy was being passed down the generations through cooking.
I’ve even created my own dish, inspired by SmokyGoodnessBBQ.com – Pulled Pork Baby. Uncle Vinny, after all, taught me you can’t beat a good smoked piece of meat.
Why not try this with your own family. Who knows what family specialities you might uncover.