PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MB –
Grandma Watson was the keeper of several “secret” recipes she claimed had been in her family for generations but when the 94-year-old passed away last month the truth was exposed and her family was devastated.
“I wanted to make Nana’s Christmas gingerbread cookies but couldn’t read my copy of her hand-written recipe,” Kaylee Watson said. “I tried googling gingerbread cookies and I found almost the same recipe online.”
At first Watson thought her family’s sercret was stolen but with a few more clicks she discovered the shocking truth.
“I found most of her recipes with different names,” Watson explained. “Most came from the Betty Crocker cook book from the 60’s.”
The Watson grandchildren were shocked to find there was no internet or smart phones back in the 1960’s that would allow their grandmother to easily copy the recipes.
“Nana was really frugal so I guess she would have just copied the recipes onto a piece of paper,” Liam Watson offered. “Her writing is almost impossible to read. It is so curvy and round I can only make out half of the letters.”
The Watson grandchildren find Emma Watson’s cursive writing impressive but virtually indiscernible.
“I had to get mom to translate most of the recipes,” Kaylee Watson shared. “I have no idea how she drew letters like that. It’s pretty but very hard to read.”
The family is left to speculate why their mother and grandmother passed off the recipes as a family secret for all those years.
“Mom was an excellent cook and a master baker,” Karen Watson said. “She always received compliments for her baking. I think it added to the mystique with her telling everyone the recipes were family secrets.”
A culinary expert, Kari Grace from Red River College says she hears from a lot of families wrestling with the same issue.
“The reality is that practically nobody in that era had the skill and expertise to create recipes from scratch. Most ‘family’ recipes are just copies or modifications of recipes found in cook books and magazines from the era,” Grace said.
Faced with the truth their grandmother was hiding a dark secret for so many years, the Watson family is unsure how they will continue the family baking traditions.
“I don’t know if I can ever experience Christmas the same knowing Nana’s Gingerbread Christmas Cookies wasn’t really hers,” Kaylee Watson said. “All those memories of us leaving them out with a cup of milk for Santa are tainted. I sometimes wonder what else she lied to us about.”
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