Monday, September 23, 2013

More than a recipe box...

On this first week of Fall I wanted to make a batch of Pumpkin bread.  My friend Shelley had printed a recipe for me years ago that I love.  As I flipped through my recipe box I couldn't help but laugh at myself.  Such a Hodge podg mess of folded up papers, scribbled notes and cut-outs of recipes.  Then I came across my no-bake cookie recipe, on a very worn piece of old envelope.
 Without knowing what hit me I had to sit for a moment as a wave of memories came over me.  …I was transported to the little kitchen in the desert that I had when I was a new bride and Nathan was serving in the Marine Corps.  I had called Grandma up on a Fall day, for this recipe.  I jotted it down on any old piece of paper I could find (a torn piece of envelope) and then went on to discuss other things, the weather at home, the changing color of the trees, the news on my niece Holly on her first year at school, the ladies at St. Joseph’s... home stuff.   As we spoke I doodled on that piece of paper…simple things like hearts and pumpkins, and my signature with my newly attained last name.  I put in my recipe box for safe keeping…

As the years have gone by I have had many recipes make it in there on their original scraps of paper.
The biscuits and gravy recipe my mom gave me.  I jotted it down on a sticky note for Nathan’s welcome home breakfast.
Then there is the cardboard cut-out of Oatmeal raisin cookies.   I needed to make a batch to send to my 90 year old snowbird friend Bill, he was wintering in Arizona and I wanted to send a care package of his favorite cookie.  I looked high and low for an old fashioned recipe that was so simple and basic.  After trying 3 different ones from cookbooks and online, I saw this on the back of the oatmeal box.  He said it was just like his wife Barb used to make, So I had to save it.

The Risotto recipe from My cousin Mary.  This one is incredibly special, it was from my trip to New York after we had lost my Cousin Kelly.  Mary was in a difficult place, having just lost her daughter.  This was a time of ache and mending.  One night Mary decided that we “needed this comfort food”, as she cooked and stirred the rice we talked about wonderful things, memories of Kelly and the food she liked, meals shared, and for a moment the world was a bit better, we drank wine and added a little more to the risotto with every story shared.  As the evening went on I documented what she was doing so I could recreate this meal when I got home.  To this day it has not… and (probably never will) tasted as amazing and as perfect as it did that October night, made with such heart…but to this day It remains a recipe that I bring out to heal the soul.

Each one of these, and many more Are folded up time and again and stuffed into my little recipe box, on their original paper, with splatter stains from so many meals cooked.
Whenever I pull out a recipe, I bring with it so much more, it is with this I bring the friend, the relative, the cook… the memory with me.
So as modern technology creates devises to put these things on our phones or The craft store creates ideal cards for transferring recipes to beautiful and organized designer cards, I just can’t do it. 

So, I put Grandma’s No-bake cookie recipe back in it’s file.  I smile at the memory of that Fall day 12 years ago.  Grandma is gone now, Nathan and I celebrated our 12th Anniversary,  Holly is starting her last year of School, the leaves are beginning to change again…life goes on, but for a moment I was able to go back…because of a stained piece of scrap paper.

Truth is, I prefer my hodge podge, and all the folks that come along with.  Happy Fall, Happy Cooking.