They have a special place in my heart- and home. They live in that cupboard- the weird one over the stove. You know the one. The one that’s doors are always lightly coated with the sticky residue of a kitchen well used. (I clean them. I swear. But still- ugh.) It’s also the one that’s too high to reach without a step stool due to my shortness. Not to mention, the shortness of the actual cupboard that makes it almost unusable to store anything else. Yup. That one.
The cupboard/vault of my cookbook and recipe collection. It’s the most precious collection I have. More prized than a gallery of art- it’s a gallery of heart and hearth.
Some are hand made (ish) books: A binder covered in wallpaper and filled with the signature recipes of friends. Another- published on a friend’s desktop-collated and hand bound, around her kitchen table as a fundraiser for our MOPS International group in 1992.
Some are regular publications: The Better Homes and Gardens cook book my mom gave me when I got married in 1988. An updated version of the one who’s yellowed and dog-eared pages she most likely still references to this day. The” Beyond Macaroni and Cheese” cookbook that saved my sanity and taste buds as a mother of young children.
Then there is the rag-tag collection of recipes carefully written or, quickly scratched out- some on recipe cards- others on sheets of paper. All shared from heart to table to home. The most precious is my grandmothers meatball recipe written in her own handwriting. The pencil is beginning to fade- but the memory of my grandma’s meatballs- is as vivid today, as the first time I ate them.
The truth- most of the recipes written and shared in this collection probably came from somewhere else. I suspect that a post WW2 Campbell’s soup can may have been the original source of that meatball recipe.
But- to me- those are grandma’s famous meatballs. And it’s: Deborah Crist’s Cranberry Chicken, Debbie Heck’s Potatoes Supreme, Kathy Kalowick’s Hawaiian cake, Julie Potter’s Cornmeal spoon bread.
They aren’t just recipes- but a history of meals shared and memories made. Friends. Family. Hearth and home all reside in that little treasured cupboard.
I worry about what Pinterest is doing to our recipe boxes/ cookbook cupboards. Are they being left unloved and unused? Is there going to be a generation of families with nothing left but memories and links to “pages no longer available?”
Worse yet- are we raising and becoming a generation of well fed but memory and history starved -families? Will our table memories be created come from Cook.com and the food network website? Great food- but no personal connection from source to table?
What about the stories behind the recipes? Like how many times did I make Deborah’s cranberry chicken while pregnant with my second child? Or, how afraid of egg casseroles was I, (No- really- I was afraid I’d kill people by salmonella poisoning.) until I tried Debbie Heck’s recipe and found the courage to try? (FYI: death toll still holding at zero.) Anyhow I always make Kathy Kalowick’s Hawaiian cake for Easter- in memory of her and her faith and in hope and expectation of seeing her again. Probably at a kitchen table none of us has to clear- in Heaven.
Can food really be as nourishing without memory, and story? I doubt it. It certainly doesn’t taste as rich.
Today- I made a variation on a friend’s baked french toast recipe. Honestly? I barely followed the recipe at all. (I’m Italian, we;re like that.) It was more a nod to our friendship then a following of recipe. I had to get out the foot stool to make it. I had to open “that” cupboard yes, the sticky one.
I could have found a recipe more quickly on Pinterest. Yes- it is probably basically, the same recipe everyone pins and uses. I don’t care. I didn’t use the one on Pinterest. I used my friend, Debbie’s recipe.
Like the road less traveled- it made all the difference. The recipe with memories, tastes much better.
Today- instead of sharing a pin- or looking up a recipe online- I challenge you to write out a favorite recipe. An index card or, sheet of paper will do. Maybe make a double batch and share both the recipe and the treat with a friend. Or- find a family recipe and make that instead of trolling the internets for something new- tonight.
Make a memory and a connection- beyond broadband.
Share recipe’s story at your table. Yes the table. Use paper plates. The earth will survive. Share the friendship and family connection with your family.
The little or, not so little- people sitting there will remember. Maybe- just maybe, we can save the future from a table connected to the internet but, disconnected from the heart.
Maybe- just maybe, we could even set the example of calling on a friend instead of clicking a link.
It will make all the difference. It did for my french toast.
It always does.
PS: If your handwriting is like mine– go ahead and type it up- but include your name and the date. Let’s face it- an illegible recipe may not be as tasty as the memory especially if 1 CUP could be confused for 1 Cow. Justsayin’ we aren’t all blessed with fine motor skills. PS: don’t have a recipe that’s YOURS? I bet you do. I don’t care where it originally came from- once you claim it- you can give it a copywrite nod to the original and go ahead and share it.
You make it? That’s what people will remember. Not the Campbell’s can it originally came off of. …..