Recipes from the Family Table

Recipes from the Family Table
By Breanna Sharpe

“Some of the most important conversations I’ve ever had
occurred at my family’s dinner table.”
– Bob Ehrlich

I sometimes hear people complain that their parents might be embarrassing, or that their grandparents call too much.  Aunts, uncles and cousins are also not safe from a slew of problems.  Whenever I hear these things I can’t help but think how wonderful it is that our family is close.  Although I bet my mother wishes I called just a little bit less, I have never had a time where I have not found support and love when I needed it. 

When I look back on all my favourite moments with our family one thing almost always comes to mind; meals. We eat a lot!  I’ve never seen my Granddad eat less then three courses at breakfast time. I think everyone gained at least five pounds from Nan and Granddad’s anniversary weekend. Whenever we gather together we find time to eat. 

A meal is universally considered an important part of a day.  It gives us sustenance, helps us survive and, most importantly, can be shared with others.  A family meal provides the opportunity to share your life with the people you care about.

When putting together our family cookbook I looked for recipes that originated in our family or have become family favourites.  I also included recipes from friends who have touched our lives. When I make the recipes I enjoy the memory of our family gatherings.

Recall a favourite recipe that connects you to your family roots or has a special meaning in your life journey? Tell us about it in the “Leave a Reply”  below. Please share the recipe if you wish! 

In making our family cookbook, the biggest challenge was filling out the sections that weren’t dessert! Here is one dessert recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Harriet Miller’s Queen Elizabeth Cake

  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ cup Shortening
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 ½ Flour
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ cup Walnuts (optional)


  • 5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cream
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup coconut

Cake Directions:

  • Combine dates, boiling water and baking soda; let cool.
  • Add shortening, white sugar, egg, vanilla, walnuts, flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes.

Icing Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients for icing.
  • Cook for 2 minutes.
  • While cake is hot, pour icing over it and return to oven to brown.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Breanna ! Although you wrote this a year ago, I didn’t see it until now……Family cookbooks are such fun, and I find they are truly treasured by the “younger” ones. I made just such a cookbook last Christmas for each of my family…………I am fortunate to have photos of 4 generations back of my family members, thanks to my grandmother. Many of these are from late 1800’s to early 1900’s. I have some actual recipes passed down from those ancestor women and for others, I wrote recipes that they would most likely have made….for example “oatmeal porridge” for my Scottish great grandmother…………..and on each page, I put a photo of the lady, her “recipe” and a bit of family history. My only granddaughter insists that she will try making all of the recipes ! The molasses candy one is quite a challenge, but I actually got to make that with my grandmother…..who was born in 1873 !!

    I hope many others share this important part of family life with their younger memories.

    Also , the idea that some of the most important communication in a family takes place over a dinner table is an idea that my daughter came across and used to create her final project for her Degree in Textiles at NSCD……she made a tablecloth of unbleached muslin……blank space ready for ideas……and, after calculating the number of meals she had prepared for her son in his 22 years, using black thread and a long stitch, she placed a stitch for each meal in the cloth. She then wrote on another cloth, dozens and dozens of what her thoughts had been as she made these meals, cut these randomly into phrases and stitched the “thoughts” as decoration on 22 white aprons, representing the 22 years. Very interesting to read these “thoughts”……………….check her out at “Conradsroadstudio”.

    Thanks again, Breanna……and I will try your Queen Elizabeth Cake….sounds Delicious!

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