Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preserving the Past

Editing the Missing Anthology introduced me to so many wonderful writers. One is Barbra Annino, who wrote a fun story about a reluctant witch and her zany family. Barb has organized a weekend of literary events in beautiful Galena, IL. I look forward to seeing the B&B she and her husband run and seeing her again. Please welcome Barbra Annino -Amy Alessio

There is something about the bones of an old house that’s comforting. The creak of the stairs, the slant of the floor, the thickness of the walls, all serve as a reminder that long after we are gone, what we have created, built, and molded with tired hands is left behind for the next generation to enjoy and improve upon. Much like recipes.

The bed and breakfast my husband and I bought in Galena, Illinois five years ago, Huckleberry Inn, was built in 1855, before the Civil War was fought. It’s a federal brick style home with surprising twists and turns that make me smile. Over the years, the home has been a private residence, a host of general and president, Ulysses S. Grant, a duplex, and a tearoom. I remember flipping through the abstract of the house after we purchased it. The records dated all the way back to the original occupant, a dry goods store owner. Every page revealed layers of history and I was fascinated by these walls that provided shelter and comfort to so many.

And then, the cookbook slid from the binder.

Maybelle’s Cookbook, to be exact, the woman who ran the house as a tearoom in the 1930s and 40s. I opened it and was quickly delighted by her sense of humor. The first recipe is called How to Preserve a Husband. It reads as follows:

Be careful of your selection. Do not choose too young. When once selected, give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some insist upon keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them in hot water. This may make them sour, hard, and sometimes bitter; even these varieties may be made sweet, tender and good, by garnishing them with patience, well sweetened with love and seasoned with kisses. Wrap them in a mantle of charity. Keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. Thus prepared, they will keep for years.

I’ve been told Maybelle wrote other books, mainly regarding the history of Galena. This Midwest gem with its rolling hills and gorgeous architecture has long attracted historians, artists, craftsmen and writers. If you happen to be out this way over the weekend, you can meet a whole slue of writers, including Amy and myself, at a book signing featuring best selling crime and mystery writers. While many authors and books will be on hand, the spotlight is on an anthology titled MISSING. All the proceeds from that sale go towards the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Hope to see you there!

August 22, Noon-3pm, Fried Green Tomatoes, 213 N Main Street, Galena
August 23, 11am-2pm, Brio Art Gallery, 116 S Main Street, Galena
Barbra Annino has been published in numerous fiction and non-fiction magazines. She is currently shopping a novel and working on another. Visit her at http://www.barbraannino.com/ to learn more about her work, read articles, and discover free recipes and fiction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are looking forward to the author signing here in Galena as well. It should be a fabulous time for all. We are positive everyone who attends will enjoy their time here in our area. From your friendly hosts for visitor information, the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau