Recipes for Life
Just in the last week, two of my dearest friends and I, on two separate occasions, discussed recipes, recipe books, and recipe cards. Leslie and I have, for years, talked about publishing a recipe book filled with interesting recipes and inspirational quotes. Deb, who recently lost her sister to ovarian cancer, would like to work on a very special one in her honor, with proceeds going to charity. Her idea is brilliant but one I promised I wouldn’t share with anyone. Sorry! It all got me thinking, though, about our culture’s current state of recipe affairs.
Many moons ago, recipes really didn’t exist. Grandma had her mom’s “recipe” for chicken soup, but it was all in her head. Not until sometime in the 19th century did women begin actually writing down recipes. Still, several of my mom’s recipes that I cherish today are written either in my sisters’ handwriting or in my own. Even my mom’s recipes that she’s passed on from her grandma, great aunts, and mom exist only in her head. Any recipes I do have in my mom’s distinct handwriting are true treasures to me. I recently saw on Pinterest the idea of framing a family recipe and I love the idea! It’s only right, as recipe cards of years gone by are really special pieces of history. They are often splattered with sauce, frayed and torn, but are worth their weight in gold.
Sadly, today many of us get recipes on-line or on TV. They are not written in perfect script but rather typed in our favorite fonts. Recipe boxes have also gone the way of recipe cards, as the 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper we print recipes onto today don’t fit in yesterday’s little metal boxes. Magazines also serve as popular sources for recipes today, which is both fitting and ironic at the same time, since they somewhat started the recipe card trend back in the 1930s. All of these – the internet, television, and magazines – have in a way replaced friends and family as our sources for pumpkin pie and the perfect punch. Today we are much more likely to rely on anonymous Google buddies for savory salmon and gluten-free recipes. I’m as guilty as anyone, having clipped many a magazine recipe and printed many a Pinterest idea.
How to save and store this plethora of downloaded recipes is yet another dilemma facing today’s chefs. As I mentioned before, they stopped fitting in traditional recipe boxes years ago. Leslie has developed her own spiral notebook system, which I may try. For now, I’m resigned to my old-fashioned sticky photo album method. What about you? Do you scan them, file them, or keep them all on your trusty laptop? What works best for you?
Finally, does anyone out there still buy good old-fashioned cookbooks anymore? I enjoy doing so, but admit that it’s most often when I’m traveling somewhere. I tend to buy a city or town’s local flavor cookbook and then use it almost more as kitchen décor rather than a meal how-to. Charity cookbooks are big now, as are theme cookbooks. You can find everything from breast cancer awareness books to tailgate cooking books. They all have fun or pretty covers, but does anyone really use and refer to them?
In a way, the demise of family recipe cards is a tad depressing. They once served as kitchen-like diaries, now replaced by blogs like this one. I am a very nostalgic person and I plan to always keep my favorite recipes both for my own convenience and in hopes that my daughter Kristen will someday want my handwritten and collected recipes. I look forward to the day when she renames my “Mom’s Natillas” recipe with “Ama’s Natillas.”
Recipe for a Happy Day
Into each day put equal parts of faith, hope and love. Add heaping cups of patience, courage, hard work, kindness, rest, prayer, and one well-directed solution. Add a quarter cup curiosity, a teaspoon of tolerance, a dash of fun, a pinch of play and a cupful of good humor. Season to taste with the spice of life and cook on low setting. Don’t boil! Serve individually and generously.