Frieda Woelk, who lives in a seniors apartment in Leamington, Ont., put together a “Special Cookbook for my Children, Grandchildren, Family and Friends,” with editions in 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2011. She had one copy left at the end of 2016, which she shared with Canadian Mennonite. It is full of delightful hand-written notes that she added to subsequent editions over the years.
Here is her recipe for raisin bread, which she still makes by the dozen. (For the story that goes with this recipe, see “Sharing baked goods by the dozen.”)
What is Saturday baking without zweibach and raisin bread? This recipe makes 15-16 loaves.
2 Tbsp. yeast, dissolved in ½ cup warm water with 2 Tbsp. sugar.
I’m still scalding my milk for my yeast recipes. Most of the girls say this isn’t necessary. (An old dog can’t learn new tricks.) But anyway, heat or scald:
4 cups milk
2 Tbsp. salt
1 cup margarine
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar
Cool and add:
8 cups washed raisins
14 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)
You know these recipes handed down to us by our mothers always said, “Add enough flour to make soft dough.” How much is that?
Let rise 2-3 hours. Form into loaves, either round or oblong. The shape of the loaves depends on which dorf (village) your mother came from.
Place on baking pans. Let rise again (1 hour). Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.
[Handwritten note] P.S. After washing raisins, cover with boiling water to plump them up. Drain and use them.
The recipes in this collection are not for small families. At the back of the book, Frieda includes some tips for catering, including the following recipes: Meatloaf for 120 people; Pluma Moos for 400; Fruit Salad for 200; and Cabbage Salad [with a note that it will feed 300].
Her book includes this lovely comment about her dear friend, Tena Pauls: “I have no recipe of hers. She is never home long enough to jot one down. She is world-travelled. However, I did learn something from her. One time when we were in Fairview, it was my job to cook rice pudding. She got out the pan to cook it in and a bowl to wash the rice. Wash the rice? I had cooked rice pudding 40-some years and had never washed the rice. Hazel and I exchanged glances and I proceeded to wash the rice. I have never washed rice since. Raisins yes, but rice?” A hand-written note concludes, “I have since taken a poll and three out of five do wash rice!”
Another interesting comment comes with the macaroni and cheese recipe. She writes: “I remember the first time I made macaroni and cheese. I was newly married and I was anxious to prepare and please John with a good meal. I called him in for dinner from the field. . . . John took one look at my bubbling cheesy macaroni dish and said, ‘When you have dinner ready [something edible], call me.’ I don’t remember if I threw the dish after him, but I really was upset. I haven’t made it for him since, but during his trucking days he’d be away and I would cook it for myself and the children.”
Other shorter comments also give a glimpse into Frieda’s personality. Among them are: “I love this pudding, but my better half doesn’t, so I rarely make it. If you make some and have some left, call me,” and “Fish—I do not do fish. If you need information about fish call Helen Koop.”
Read more about Frieda Woelk at “Sharing baked goods by the dozen.”