Mary Jane Crullers
October 8, 2011 by annablakegodbout | Edit
A couple of weeks ago when September rolled into October, I was reading an article in Yankee magazine about the sights and sounds of autumn. One recipe that caught my eye was one for Apple Cider Donuts. Instantly I thought of my grandmother’s kitchen when she pulled out her ingredients for her Mary Jane Crullers. When I was young, Nana taught me the wonders of baking from family recipes safeguarded inside an old and dented tin since the 1920′s. Mary Jane Crullers became a gift of love and memories. Her recipe dates back to June 18, 1936. In the autumn before I married in June 1974, my grandmother’s much loved recipe card became mine for my personal collection.
With all the cooking shows, internet cookbooks and quick gathering of information, I decided to check out crullers online to find out if they were, as I knew them to be. The ingredients were simple enough: butter, flour, sugar, eggs, milk baking powder and fat for frying. Even the Food Network’s Alton Brown has his influence on them- minus my grandmother’s homemade instructions and her gut instinct with tried and accurate baking methods.
Mary Jane Crullers brings me back to standing on a wooden rail chair, a dented metal mixing bowl, an outdated Kitchen Aid mixer, her flour sifter with the red wooden handle and brown paper bags cut wide open spotted with dark oil puddles, and finally a treasured wooden spoon. Nana’s recipe cards printed with “From the Kitchen of Cora Godbout” at the top with ingredients listed on the left side. She always used the word “Procedure” on the right side. Simple straightforward steps that got the job done; no designer this or that, no polished stainless steel must haves and no high tech getting in the way. Only a wooden spoon, a metal bowl and brown paper bags were put to use.
. From 1936-to 2010, and all the autumns in between, the smell of cinnamon and and fried twisted dough draining on brown paper is never lost, never gone. On the back of Cora’s recipe card, I wrote: “Made for the first time as a newly married wife on September 28, 1974 in Augusta, Georgia.”
An excerpt from my poem “Dusted by Time” joins my cooking passion with Nana’s loving guidance. Food Network and Alton Brown cannot express such voices and “procedures”- those treasured for always in an old tin box of memories:
“Made of black tin now dented, battered and scarred,
A box of memories calls out to me
I have missed them,
I have missed them all.”
There is a freeze warning out for tonight; the red geraniums must come inside.. They will come into a kitchen where a mother teaching her oldest son a great-grandmother’s legacy. One rule will be that no computer or Food Network will be within range of a wooden spoon, a metal bowl, the flour sifter and of course, the brown paper bags for draining the fat.