Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reading Old Recipes with Aunt Bert

Yesterday was an awful day.

It started out with Ellie barfing on my bed, then a headache descended and rolling in right behind it was a bleak bad mood.  Thank goodness my boss let me work from home.  By the time evening wandered around I wasn't fit for man nor basset hound.  Audrey had the rare presence of mind to go out for a long time and Larry came home from work, surveyed the situation and then left for class with a spring in his step not unlike that of a convict being released on a technicality.

Granny's recipe box
Years ago my dad gave me a tin full of recipes that my Granny had collected.  When I was dusting last week I came upon it and had moved it to the coffee table, so I figured it was a sign to finally go thru it.
I settled down on the couch and started to pull the yellowed newspaper pages and recipes cut from the back of boxes and the little recipe books that you get with purchase and I started to calm down.

I love cookbooks.  I read them like novels from cover to cover.  And I am a sucker for cookbooks and cook booklets at thrift shops and yardsales and antique shops.  I think it is so cool to read what people write in the margins and what they tuck in between the pages.

Larry and I took a trip to Maine a few years ago and stayed a couple of days with some friends and their family at their rental cabin by a lake.  I brought along a shoebox stuffed full of all of my mother-in-laws' loose recipes that we could find.  I thought that I could sit on the screened porch and listen to the loons and stare at the lake and sort out the recipes.  My opportunity came on Game Night.  I am not a big board game player and I wasn't at all going to go up against that competitive crowd!  So I sat on the screened porch beside Aunt Bert.  Aunt Bert was an older lady, partially blind, kind of quiet, but sharp as a tack!  You could almost forget she was there...  She asked me what I was doing, then asked me what kind of recipes I had.  So I started reading the recipes out loud.  I found recipes from both of Larrys grandmothers, his aunts, his great aunts, our sister-in-laws, and their moms, a few from me, and even a couple from MY mom!!  But the fun really started when we got near the bottom of the box and found Grandma Inman's recipes!  Grandma Inman was Margarets' mother and she was a teacher and you know that teachers have GREAT recipes!  These were from the 40's and the 50's and we giggled together about how much butter they used.  And how many raw eggs were included.  And Aunt Bert told me about how SHE would've prepared a certain something and I told her how I would've prepared something and we ended up giggling and laughing together and I am convinced that we had a far superior time than the board game players had.
I didn't get the recipes sorted but I didn't even care.  I had a blast.

So as I sat on the couch looking at all the recipes my Granny had squirreled away I thought about the recipes that I had in MY recipe box and wondered what is it in the nature of women that makes them put aside interesting recipes that we know we'll never prepare?   And how now, in these more modern times as we store our recipes online or on Pinterest, will granddaughters get to go thru old recipe boxes and marvel at the ingredients, remember family members that are long gone and, if they are lucky, look on the back of that faded newspaper and laugh out loud over grocery prices?

And mostly, I wondered - why in the heck did Granny have like 80 recipes for apple cake????


  1. LOVE this post! I have a bunch of my great-grandmother's recipes all written out on notepads, and I love them so much (even though I'll probably never make any of them). Matt and I just ordered a new cookbook that I think you would like. It's Dinner: A Love Story. http://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Story-begins-family-table/dp/0062080903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341974575&sr=8-1&keywords=dinner+a+love+story

    Hope we can see you when we're in town!

  2. I just put it on my Amazon Wish List! Oh, I'll be over while you are at Sue's!!! Can't wait!!

  3. Great post! I feel the same way when I go through your old cookbooks.

    1. Thanks sweetie! I almost don't mind that you called me (ahem) old.

  4. Oh, That was so sweet and inspiring. Maybe I need to go through mine and as my mom if she kept any of my grandma's or nana's.

    1. That is a good idea! I wish that I had done that with my side of the family when I had the chance!