by Janet Johnson
I had the privilege of growing up in historic Nazareth. We lived on the same block as the original C.F. Martin Guitar Company factory and only a few doors from the Martin house on North Main Street, which was home to several generations of the company founder. My husband’s family lived in nearby Tatamy, named after Chief Moses Tunda Tatamy, of the Lenni Lenape Indians. Chief Tatamy owned land in the area in the 1700s. The borough of Tatamy was incorporated in 1893.
When visiting historic places, it always amazed me to see letters and detailed diaries written by those who were part of significant events that happened hundreds of years ago. While the pages are often worn and the ink faded, these writings tell stories to help us understand what was happening at the time and to learn more about the people who wrote the messages. How wonderful it is that these writings have been preserved so that we, and future generations, can see them and learn about their history.
Until my husband and I both lost our mothers within a few months of each other five years ago, we had never given serious consideration to the fact that our homes are filled with so much history, as well. Almost every home contains boxes of photos, scrapbooks, and significant documents that have been passed through the generations of families but often forgotten and ignored. The contents are uniquely meaningful because they tell a personal story of a family.
As we faced the chore of going through the personal possessions of our parents, we were surprised at the quantity of boxes filled with photos, documents, books, and recipes we found in old trunks and storage containers. Many dated back into the 1800s and were items we had never seen before.
Our discovery made us curious about the ancestors we never met — who they were, what did they do, etc. As we tried to connect names, faces, and dates, we had many questions and regretted that we had lost the family members who would have the answers. Thanks to the Internet and genealogy programs, we’ve been able to trace our family roots back to the 1600s in Europe. I knew my great-great grandfather served in the Civil War and participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, but never considered ancestors who served during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, or those who played important roles in establishing towns and communities after coming to America. The information we found was eye opening, and sometimes overwhelming. But the important thing is that we now have a better understanding of our ancestors and have a greater appreciation of life in 1700-1800s.
It was a cookbook project that actually gave us the inspiration to do more extensive research on our family history and preserve our memories for future generations. We spent months sorting through a mountain of recipes collected from our mothers and grandmothers, and those beyond. Many were written on papers that were brittle and crumbling from age and use. We found ourselves telling stories about what made a particular food special to us, and the family events that involved these food items – basically recalling our childhoods. By the time we got through all the recipes, we had selected more than 300 of our favorites. It was at this point that we decided to begin organizing the recipes and publish a family heirloom cookbook to preserve the recipes, as well as the history and memories of our families while growing up in our hometowns of Nazareth and Tatamy.
The cookbook, A Pinch of Love, A Dash of Time, features more than 340 recipes – many are decades old, while some are newer family favorites. We also included our memories of family life and photos. The book is designed as a 365-day calendar of recipes, and contains daily historical facts, inspirational quotes and messages, and fun tidbits. Recipes are strategically placed throughout the book to coincide with appropriate harvests or seasons of the year when the foods were mostly prepared.
The book is dedicated to our mothers, both of whom were active in our hometowns. My mother, Betty Hinkel, was active in St. John’s Lutheran Church, Nazareth, and was a Registered Nurse for the late Dr. John Hoch in his private practice in Nazareth for more than 25 years. My mother-in-law, Dorothy Johnson, was a baker at Carldon’s Restaurant in Nazareth for nearly 25 years and often shared her culinary skills by preparing large quantities of food for dinners or parties of family and friends.
American writer Madeleine L’Engle once said, “If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.”
The cookbook, A Pinch of Love, A Dash of Time, is available for $20 plus shipping and handling. Also, 10 percent of each book purchase will be donated to the Nazareth Area Food Bank in memory of our mothers. To order a book or for more information, please send an email to JHcookbook@gmail.com.
About the authors
Bill and Janet Johnson reside in Mechanicsburg, south-central Pennsylvania. Both are natives of Tatamy and Nazareth, respectively, and graduates of Nazareth Area High School (1966 and 1970) and Northampton Community College (1970 and 1972). Bill also is a 1972 graduate of Bloomsburg University.