Friday, April 5, 2019

A Box Full of Memories

“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.” 

 ― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

My mom loved to bake.  In fact, it's one of my fondest memories of her from my childhood.  Which is probably why her recipe box is one of my favorite possessions.

It's not much to look at, not picture worthy.  A small square metal box covered with what appears to be an early version of contact paper, (the patterns must have been limited), I found it way in the back of a cabinet in the weeks after her death. It had probably been years since she had used it. Towards the end of her life she often made the same recipes over and over again.  Which was fine, it was what she liked and could easily recall from memory which I am sure made things simpler.

I didn't have time to peruse the contents until after we were already settled in Virginia, but looking through those hand-written recipe cards was like taking a little trip down memory lane. There was the divinity that she made every Christmas for many years. Her chocolate pie, which is the best I've ever tasted. She was funny about that one. She would gladly share the recipe, at least, the altered version of it, which is why everyone who tried to replicate it would often sigh in dismay, "I've made that recipe dozens of times, but it never turns out like yours." Thankfully she filled me in on her little secret so that today I'm able to make it just as good as she did! Thanks, mom!

One of the recipes I found brought me to tears. It was for smiley face cookies, and she had even noted that she made them for my tenth birthday, a day I remember well. The smiley face was all the rage in the 70's. There were stickers, and t-shirts, in fact one of my birthday presents that year was a coveted pair of tennis shoes emblazoned with the happy little yellow faces. My desire for them is probably what gave mom the idea to make it the theme for my party. I remember coming home from school that day to find the little plate of cookies surrounded by all my presents. Mom had even drawn two smiley faces in each corner of the recipe card. I will probably never make the cookies themselves, as it's just a simple sugar cookie, but having that card, written in her familiar hand along with the documented memory is priceless!

With technology, recipe cards have fallen out of fashion. Even most of my collection is organized digitally on my computer or on Pinterest. I do have about a dozen cookbooks, but rather than flip through the pages, I will typically type out my favorites and add them to my recipe file on my laptop. But having my mom's recipe box has instilled a desire in me to perhaps keep a small one myself. A digital collection is nice, but it's certainly no replacement for a lovely card, written in that familiar hand, especially if an occasion in which it was served is noted. I was surprised at the memories those little cards stirred, and while I didn't keep all of them, I did keep the ones that were special to me.  Every now and then when I'm missing my mom, I will take them out and look through them again, and I am comforted.

I've made up a number of little recipe cards and shared them here over the years.  Every now and then I'll make a few changes and post them again, as I've done here.  Whether you use these cards, or if you have your own.  Even it's only a simple white index card as most of my mother's were, I would encourage you to take the time to write out some of your families favorite recipes and give a copy to each of your children.  They might make a nice stocking stuffer for the holidays, tied with a pretty ribbon, or a sweet insert inside a birthday card.  They are also nice for sharing at potlucks or when taking food to new mothers.  I've frequently been asked for recipes in such cases, and it would be so easy to simply write them out ahead of time and include them with the meal. In any case, I'm sharing these little cards with you today.  I will make them available as a .pdf file the you can download, hopefully later today, but for now, you can simply save them to your computer and print them out!

Click image to open. Right click and save to your computer. 

I hope you enjoy them!  

Until then,

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