World Chefs: Sisters revive heirloom recipes for modern bakers

Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:53pm EST
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Self-described "roundish women of a certain age," Marilynn and Sheila Brass, also known as the Brass Sisters, like to say they are home chefs 114 years of baking experience between them.

They are also inveterate collectors and discoverers of cookbooks, including the handcrafted kind held together by pins and long ago shoved in a forgotten drawer.

About 10 years ago the sisters began testing the recipes they trolled attics, flea markets and yard sales to find.

Their cookbook, "Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters," which gathers 150 of their favorites, is the result.

The sisters, who share a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, talked to Reuters about finishing each other's sentences, testing recipes without a dishwasher and researching the meaning of "enough cinnamon to cover a tuppence."

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: "We're sort of forensic cookbook authors. We collect culinary antiques. We've collected 6500 cookbooks, some dating back to 1600's, many from yard sales, or attics, where there was often a box of cookbooks, or handwritten recipes held together with safety pins or nails. We began to wonder what these recipes would taste like so we started testing them."

Q: What did you learn about the women behind these recipes?   Continued...

 
<p>Marilynn Brass (R) and Sheila Brass, authors of "Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters," are seen in this undated handout released to Reuters. Self-described "roundish women of a certain age," Marilynn and Sheila Brass, also known as the Brass Sisters, like to say they are home chefs 114 years of baking experience between them. About 10 years ago the sisters began testing the recipes they trolled attics, flea markets and yard sales to find. Their cookbook, "Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters," which gathers 150 of their favorites, is the result. REUTERS/Andy Ryan/Handout</p>