Old Recipe Box

Perusing through most recipe boxes can be a trip down memory lane.

I was visiting my family in another state when my granddaughter and I decided to try a new recipe.

The problem was, we were at the grocery store and I didn’t bring the recipe ... so I called my mother, back in my home state, to get it. Well, that wasn’t a nice thing to do. My mother was busy. We were in the store, needing to pick up ingredients at that moment, so Mom tried to help us anyway. Then I heard a clatter and an “Oh no.”

In her hurry to help us, my mother had dropped her entire recipe box! She was actually able to assist us at that moment, perhaps from her memory, but it meant she later had to pick up all of her recipes and re-sort them.

When I was a young girl, my mom got a new, bigger and better recipe box, for about $3. It was so big it even had a drawer! This is the same recipe box she still uses. Unlike people younger than 50, Mom still uses her old handwritten recipes. Actually, I still do too, but that is info for another column.

Mom has cleaned out this recipe box several times. She threw out recipes that take too much shortening, recipes that she will never again take the time to make, recipes that weren’t our favorites. But there are still a couple hundred recipes in that box.

After the spill of 4 x 6-inch and 3 x 5-inch cards as well as newspaper clippings and 8 x 11-inch typed pages of recipes, Mom needed to actually look at and evaluate whether to keep each and every recipe. This adventure must have rivaled packing for a move.

Mom found recipes she kept from the last 60 or so years. One chocolate cookie recipe, written in my mother’s mother’s handwriting, is being held together by the oil that has been spilled on it over the years. Grandma’s frog eye salad recipe, in better shape, is also written in grandma’s beautiful handwriting.

There is a recipe for an Italian salad from my Uncle Eddie. This is a recipe Uncle Eddie had used when he was a cook for an Italian restaurant in the 1970s. It is the perfect recipe to go with my Mom’s famous manicotti.

There is a recipe for a cake made with boiled prunes. Mom said that was the best recipe ever, but I might beg to differ.

There are recipes from friends for fruit fiesta, mint brownies and boiled fruit.

One favorite is for popcorn balls made my senior year of high school.

There is a recipe I got from a neighbor when I was 10 years old called “bird feed” that made the best trail mix ever.

There is the recipe Mom used to try to win the Betty Crocker Bake Off. She made that cake recipe every day for a month, trying to perfect the recipe. She must have gotten tired of that white cake. She didn’t ever actually submit it for the bake off.

There are several recipes written by a wonderful neighbor who we thought was a professional chef. These were the best recipes for banana split dessert, or any dessert for that matter.

There are a couple of 1970s Weight Watchers recipes ... the only ones mom said ever worked for her.

One year, when I was about 12, I spent some summer hours re-writing and organizing my mother’s recipes. There are several of those recipes, written in my 12-year-old handwriting, in Mom’s recipe box.

Mom says that what she actually found from this exercise was a treasure trove; a little history of people Mom has known and loved over the years. It ended up being a wonderful walk down memory lane. Every time Mom looks at a recipe she thinks of the person who gave her the recipe. She carefully observes the handwriting and remembers wonderful things about the amazing people in her life who shared pieces of themselves with her by sharing their recipes.

Jennifer Sant is a Utah high school teacher, energy wellness coach mother of five and currently grandmother of nine. Contact her at jennifersant801@gmail.com.

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