*A reader wrote in asking how I keep track of my recipes and it got me thinking about the richness of a woman's cookbook. This is my response.
Food is a connecting fiber woven throughout the story of our lives. The smells and tastes can bring back memories that transport us to another time and place. It was a part of my childhood as Grandma and Mom sat at the kitchen table and taught me how to peel the apples for grandma’s delicious apple pie in an unbroken ring of skin. It was a part of my special time with dad as we got up early on Saturday mornings and launched our boat in Lake Shasta to catch fresh trout for dinner and again when he walked me through our garden pointing out each vegetable that was going to show up on our dinner plate while we planted the fish heads into the garden soil. Food was a part of the tradition of my marriage as Chris and I sliced into our wedding cake and then shared it with our closest friends and family. And with each family Christmas as our older members pass on and our newer members are added, special dishes come out full of foods passed down from generation to generation. And it’s those generational recipes that stir up memories that we pass on to the younger family members in a continuous thread of history.
If you were to check in the cupboards of women across America you’d probably find that, tucked away in their recipe cupboards, is a small box or book full of great grandma’s recipes. Most have personal notations from women long gone and some have greasy fingerprints from the hands that held them before. But whatever condition they are in their value is priceless. And as our own children grow into adulthood, our recipes will become the ones handed down and talked about long after we’re gone.
In the day and age of computer technology, the art of the handwritten cookbook is nearly lost. Most of the time I read my recipe directly from my laptop. Other times I manage to take the time to print it out, only to toss it in the garbage later. But as my kids are starting to take over some of the cooking and my days with them living in my house are numbered, I’m starting to see the relevance in getting my recipes organized and making them personal. So here are some simple tips to get your food history ready to pass down to your own children and grandchildren some day.
- To keep it simple, start with a three ring binder, dividers according to course (main dish, dessert, breads, etc.) and some plastic page protectors. When I’ve tried a recipe that I like I either print it out or photocopy it so I have a hard copy.
- Next I make notations on the recipe. Note whether you altered ingredients, how much everyone liked it, if you served it for a special occasion and include the date. All the extra details make it even more memorable for future family members. It’s almost like a diary of sorts.
- Then slip it into a waterproof sleeve and file it under the correct divider. Next time you use the recipe your plastic sheet will protect it from splashes or spills.
Every time you add a recipe you’ll be building a legacy for the future and a reminder of the great memories you cooked up for your family.
For more ideas go see WFMW.