I love old recipe books - the way the women used words like lard and sugar with such abandon. You find recipes on how to pickle your cucumbers or cook brain (yes, not a typo) side by side with a recipe for raisin frosting. Raisin frosting? Why hasn’t Betty Crocker put that into a can by now?
I enjoy working through the worn pages of a recipe book that served a family and their needs well. My cookbooks are full of family memories - some meals that went very well, and some that sparked a rebellion. I cherish recipes my friends have shared with me over the years, and recipes I shared.
The recipes are as different as the people who gave them to me. Some are healthy, and some are not. (But well worth the cheat) Some are easy, and some are not. Some were freely given and some required a sacred vow that I'd never share with anyone else.
The funniest time I shared a recipe was before we moved from Texas. The packers had come and I was in my kitchen working in a maze of stacks of boxes. There was a knock on my door from one of my neighbors. I was surprised to see her as she had never been one to come inside and visit, and I was so touched that she wanted to say goodbye. She asked a few awkward questions as we stood amongst the boxes and finally, she revealed what she came for.
“Do you think I could have that cookie recipe you use every Christmas when you bring us goodies?”
I started to laugh. I went to my box of cookbooks, pulled it out and she took a quick picture. I think we did more real bonding that day over a recipe than we had in the 20 years we lived next door and chatted occasionally out in the front yard.
My recipes are a shared memory and reminder of friends who have made a difference in my life. I love the old recipe books for the women who once owned them and have left their memories on the worn-out pages - complete with food stains and crucial tips in the margins.
This talk of recipes may seem like a small thing, and yet they have had such a profound impact on my life. Very often out of simple things come our greatest blessings - blessings of friendship, service, love, and acceptance.
We get so busy with all the noise and BIG things of life, that we sometimes miss the fact that the things that mean the most - that can have a profound and long-lasting impact - can be found among the simplest of things.
I am happy to send you any of the recipes discussed in this article.