Editor’s Note: Today’s very special post is from Betty Kilpatrick, who happens to be the mother of one of my best friends, Kristen. If you’re reading this page, you’ve seen Kristen’s stunning work – she’s the photographer behind so many of my favorite shoots over the years. We love to talk about food together, and our conversations often revolve around what her mother Betty cooks at home in Fort Worth. For years I’ve been drooling over descriptions of homemade cheese and healthy baked bread – and I’m just as moved by the way Kristen speaks with so much pride and love about her mother’s creations. In honor of Mother’s Day weekend – and since Kristen was cooking next to her mom at home during quarantine – I asked the duo to share this lemon ricotta poundcake that I recently saw on Kristen’s Instagram.
Read on for the inspirational story Betty shares of what scratchy cooking means to her, right next to her daughter’s photos. And of course the recipe is at the very bottom – it’s one that I’ll be making for years to come.
I know you will find this article as meaningful and special as I did. From Betty:
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Lately I have thought a lot about the phrase “more is caught than taught”. It certainly applies to passionate cooking and homestead, something that has been passed on from one generation to the next in my family. Growing up, I was lucky enough to be close to my grandparents and spend summers working (but really playing) on their little farm. Life on the farm meant scratch cooking was the only option for Grandmother, a hard-working Czech woman who loved a bargain until she died. My brother David and I searched their kitchen for anything we bought in the store. Our results have been sparse. We always joked about that. At a time when everything is pre-made, pre-chopped, or pre-cooked, it seems stupid to bother with such tasks.
But as I’ve grown, I realize that the benefit of scratch cooking far outweighs the time lost. Scratch Cooking gives us time together, a concept of hard work and performance and a deep connection with the earth that supports us.
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For Grandmother, this meant that butter, cheese, milk, cream, bread, eggs, vegetables (fresh or canned from the previous harvest), and pickles came from her humble kitchen. Her freezer was full of meat that had been processed by the cattle that Grandpa had raised. She knew the exact place the turkey was hiding in the forest, and the Czech way there was always a freshly baked sweat treat for her grandchildren. David and I gladly accepted the latter and peeled every warm Kolache we got in our way. My mother inherited this passion from her own days on the farm and many traditions continue today. As I write this, I look over my summer garden and find that I wish I had inherited Grandmother’s care to contain overgrowth. To this day, the sight of a green garden dusted with orange pumpkin blossoms reminds me of grandmother and connects me to her legacy.
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On the farm, the mess in the kitchen was never seen as a negative – it was accepted as part of the process. A process that resulted in the most delicious treats. We knew any mess could be thrown into the junk bin kept in the corner for chickens or composted for next year’s growth. In times of COVID, when there is a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, I hold on to this idea.
While a kitchen mess is nothing compared to the current state of the world, I know the mess of it will be used for next season’s growth. This mess, too, although incredibly painful, was used to bring people together.
I have not come across a single person who has no silver lining in the midst of all of this.
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For me, this season has given me the extra time to start making cheese again, including runs to local farms to get the freshest raw milk and vital information about the “girls” (aka cows whom I now know by name) ). My Biggest Silver The feed has been isolated by my eldest daughter, Kristen, on our ranch for two months so we can spend more generation time in the kitchen. After running a raw milk run and then making Gouda, we had an extra gallon of milk begging to be turned into fresh ricotta. Do you remember the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?” If you give fresh homemade ricotta to Czech women, they will surely find a way to use it in something sweet and spring-like. Kristen added to my original lemon ricotta poundcake recipe by suggesting candied lemon wedges, and I have to say it took this cake to a whole new high. You’ll see. And since I know you’re curious, the rest of the ricotta went in blueberry pancakes the next morning.
While during this time I would do everything in my power to ease the pain of so many, I do what I know how to do: make lemon pound cakes out of lemons.
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Scroll on for the recipe for Betty Lou’s Lemon Ricotta Poundcake …