Thursday, April 21, 2016


 Does your recipe file look like this?  Mine used to but I kept mine in a large mailing envelope, and then a tote bag and then I started getting real and purging here, too.  This is my brother's file.  It holds recipes he's cut out of newspapers back in the day that newspapers printed recipes.  He said some he never used, some just sounded good at the time, some he's actually tried.  I've found lately that if I try one and it's not so successful I toss it.  If it was good I make a comment on it so I know that I tried it and it's worth keeping.  Some, like a particular cookie recipe I have in mind, became family favorites.
My file is now not this thick but it's just as messy.  One of the pages is completely burnt from the notebook because I put it on a hot burner.  My son has already claimed mine.
 One of the things I realized years ago was that the recipe box tells a lot about the cook in the house.  In mine you'll find more desserts than meals.  But the real reason I want to keep the recipe box of someone who has passed away is I want the recipes written in their handwriting.  I want to remember the penmanship of the person who sent the birthday and Christmas cards. It keeps them still a little real and here.
I want the recipes they copied down because they thought them delicious and important enough to copy from someone else.
 Not something cut from a newspaper, but something they've actually tried, liked and asked for.

 I want to see that there are splatters on the page, sometimes hiding the ingredient or directions because the recipe was such a favorite.  And now we, too, know it was a favorite.
 So many of our grandmothers were old world cooks and  cooked by taste.  They just knew and you had to be standing next to them writing things down as they used pinches and tea cups and stirring spoons as their measure. Since they've been gone, many is the time we've asked each other, "Did you get mom's sauerkraut recipe?"  "Did you get the brownie recipe?"  "Does anyone remember how Busia made her pie?"  We find out we must use lard for the crust and Northern Spy apples and cook the onions and bacon till they're almost burned for the sauerkraut and no, we didn't get the brownie recipe. 
When my kids got married I made a recipe book for them of all the things I cooked that they liked and things from my torn and stained notebook, the things they will ask each other about when I'm gone, my recipe for whatever they remember.  In it I told who I got the recipe from,  gave detailed directions about my technique or the quirks I discovered when I made it.  It's all there.  Except for my handwriting.

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