Genes Reunited Blog
Welcome to the new Genes Reunited blog!
- We regularly add blogs covering a variety of topics. You can add your own comments at the bottom.
- The Genes Reunited Team will be writing blogs and keeping you up to date with changes happening on the site.
- In the future we hope to have guest bloggers that will be able to give you tips and advice as to how to trace your family history.
- The blogs will have various privacy settings, so that you can choose who you share your blog with.
The British Newspaper Archive
Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?
Recipe cards found at the back of the kitchen draw. Scrawled on scraps of paper found in aprons. Old cookbooks with scribbled notes in the margin. At some point most of us have come across these culinary gems. These are more than just recipes. They are links with our past and our connections to special events in the lives of our ancestors .
A recipe for grandmother’s apple pie, great grandfather’s method for cooking the perfect Irish stew and the full proof biscuit recipe that’s been in the family for years can all mean more than an inherited diamond brooch. With the surge of interest in researching our family history curiosity heads to the pantry. We not only want to know what great grandpa did in the war. We want to know what great grandma made in the kitchen.
The intertwining of genealogy and food hobbies is driven by a sense of nostalgia and thriftiness. With TV shows such as ‘Long Lost Family’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ more and more of us are looking into the past, building family trees and delving into archived records. As well as birth, death and marriage records and results from a Census search, we’re playing family food detective, searching for half-remembered dishes from childhood memories.
It can be a fun task testing dishes and seeing if the correct ingredients and methods have been used. Just like Goldilocks sampling the three bears’ porridge, you could be testing to see if you need more salt in your great aunt’s lobster bisque recipe, a dash or two of chilli sauce or if it’s just right.
The exercise of cooking the old recipes our relatives made in the past makes us look back at the diets from those times. Subtle changes can make the biggest difference. Butter instead of margarine, full fat milk delivered by the milk man instead of shop bought semi-skimmed, a particular brand of cooking sherry and so on. Financial means also affected home cooked meals. The more frugal homemaker wouldn’t use recipes that used a lot of butter or cream in every day cooking as they were costly.
Looking back to the meals of previous generations also raises an awareness of eating habits and what brands and ingredients were available. The emergence of fast food outlets and big chain supermarkets has grown over the past 40 years. Before that most people got their meat from the local butchers, bread from the baker and other items from grocers and newsagents. Back then everything was fresh and nothing was wasted.
Some recipes reflect the economic times. In these frugal times that’s no bad thing. It wasn’t uncommon for a family to make one chicken last over three meals. A baked ham would serve as a meat and two veg dinner for one evening and any leftovers could be layered into sandwiches, baked into a quiche, added to a rice or pasta meal or fried next to scrambled eggs.
As we move through our super speedy, fast food culture, we risk losing touch with the special moments of family home cooking when recipes were shared between generations. Look in your kitchen cupboards, the boxes in the attic and family scrap books to discover old heritage recipes. Make sure you continue cooking up plenty of dishes to keep the family traditions alive.
Have you found any long lost family recipes whilst discovering your genealogy? Please do share them and let us know if they tasted as good as you remember or indeed helped you feel a connection to your relatives.