Exploring mom’s recipe box – revisiting the 1970’s


While searching for some specific papers in my file box of my parents’ “stuff”, I came across my mom’s recipe box. A simple lucite holder of index cards. I had long ago taken out her own recipes, and my versions of those have been in my cookbooks (stuffed cabbage, sweet and sour meatballs, and noodle kugel). But, other than those few dishes, my mom was not the greatest cook, so she was always looking for recipes from friends and family. Some of those I have blogged – my Aunt Gussie’s rugelach, Rose’s pickled red peppers, and Uncle Jack’s Mandel bread. So, I was wondering, what is left in this box?

I sorted through it, there aren’t many recipes, but they are all from the 1970’s or early 80’s. I haven’t tasted them, or anything like them in years. Would I like them? Could I adapt them in ways I would want to use them? Hmm, sounded like a fun thing to figure out.

I decided to start with something I never even tried – Bessie’s Vegetarian Chopped Liver.

Bessie was my mom’s first cousin, well, the wife of my mom’s first cousin, Sol, but our family never really distinguished between the relative and the relative’s spouse, we were all family. Sol was one of people I really enjoyed having visit, he was warm, funny, and always had a smile for me. Bessie was nice, just quieter, more reserved. They were Bernsteins, cousins on my mom’s mother’s side.

I was a very picky eater as a child and would never touch regular chopped liver, or even anything with hard boiled eggs in it, so I never tasted this before. This recipe was going to be evaluated simply on how it tastes to me now. I have no reference points at all.

So, I went to the store and bought a can of string beans. I don’t think I have done that since I was in college (hah! the early 80’s!). I figured there has to be something about the texture of canned string beans that would lend itself to becoming a spread, which turned out to be true. The ingredients melded together nicely. I used a little more than 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and omitted the walnuts, since my son doesn’t like them. And…I added some salt and black pepper to taste.

I used a potato masher on the eggs and green beans, then stirred in the rest. I ate it for lunch on top of a homemade bialy (could I have a more NYC lunch?).

I didn’t know if it looked right or tasted right, or tasted anything like chopped liver, but it was a very tasty spread on my bialy.

When my husband tried it, he said, “it doesn’t taste anything like chopped liver, but it is very good!” He ate his with pita chips.

I have been thinking about how I would adapt it to bring it up to date. I am not sure. I could try using frozen green beans and cooking them til soft (I hate the thought of doing that to fresh green beans). But there are so few ingredients, there is not much else to fiddle with.

The BIG QUESTION: will I make it again? probably. It was simple, quick, and tasty.

Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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