Culinary Memories

Copyright 2009

By Joanie Buettgen

Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us will be dusting off our familiar cookbooks. Traditional holiday baking will kick into full gear, and our sensory mode will go into hyper-drive. Hopefully, everybody will be filled with the wonderful aromas like cinnamon, nutmeg and buttery treasures that will fill every nook and cranny worldwide.

As a homemaker, “Have you ever noticed the bindings of antique cookbooks?” As you admire their printed material, along with their well-worn and dog-eared pages; they seem to tell their own stories. Some are dotted with butter and vanilla stains. Many contain the frequently “asked for” family recipes deep inside the parchment.

Recently, I had the pleasure to talk to two friends; Wendy Petersen-Biorn and Marlene Magnuson. The three of us could have chatted for hours around that large library table-one cold winter day. As the minutes passed, we shared our love of food.

Our discussion was interrupted but soon continued when Petersen-Biorn returned with many recent purchases in hand including: two very old cookbooks and another was a Christmas present. We leisurely flipped through these collections noting their unique format, style, and unit of measurements.

Afterwards, Magnuson stated, “Did you hear about Marjorie Johnson? She was chosen as the winner of the “First Pie Contest” on Martha Stewart’s show last week!”

That got our attention.

Stewart’s show aired recently and announced the winner of “The Best Pie Contest,” and Johnson won. Some of Stewart’s comments were, “good taste and good crust.”

It’s always interesting when you learn about a local celebrity. Johnson is from Robinsdale, Minn. and her mother is from Watertown. Johnson would visit her hometown relatives as a child. One of the family relations is Dale Magnuson, Marlene’s husband, who is related to Johnson as a cousin, by marriage.

While discussing his relatives, Dale Magnuson mentioned that Johnson’s mother’s name was Esther and a sister Aunt Minnie owned the General Store in Watertown. Dale’s grandfather Amos Peterson owned the local ice business in town.

Have you ever wondered what famous people are like? Marlene Magnuson knew right away, “Marjorie is a very friendly and chatty person. When she was here in Watertown, she was so glad to be back here. She was speaking at a Home Makers Group, and I gave her a 125th Edition booklet of Watertown. She was so excited to get it, and all the reminiscing that went along with it. It’s nice that someone from Watertown has had her claim to fame. My grandson, Eric met Johnson at his work where she was speaking. Erik called and asked me if he could go and talk to her. I verified that we were indeed related to her and I said yes, she loved to visit with you and they still exchange regular emails.”

Christmas is a great time to celebrate our treasured and time-honored family traditions. It’s a well-known fact that food, whatever kind, brings people together, usually that’s in the kitchen.

My personal copy of Johnson’s cookbook, “Blue Ribbon Baking,” will be placed next to the other twelve-with high hopes of future ones to add to my collection.

Surely there’s a heavenly kitchen where all the great chefs gather like Julia Child. “It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about-enjoying things.” Julia Child

From our kitchen to yours, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Do you have fond food memoires you’d like to share? Contact Joanie at:, Blog: or Twitter:, and we will share them with our readers.


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