August 22, 2012

More than a box...

In the kitchen where I grew up sat a long, brown wooden box with a heavy lid that
 when flipped open would reveal a magical 
collection of 
treasured recipes for casseroles, cakes and canapes!
I adored that box and would sit for hours pouring over the 1/2 cup of this and the pinch of that!

The three by five cards had no pictures...but they had something much more special than a photograph....they were written in the cook's own handwriting....each one uniquely different from the next....some scribbled down in a hurry on a plain white index card and others beautifully scrolled on a card with a daisy in the corner or a mixing bowl along the edge.

There was Tomato Pie from Grandma and Stuffed Cabbage from our neighbor Bea.  
Lemon Box Cake courtesy of Aunt Sue and Marjorie's Scalloped Potatoes. 
But there was one card that stood out from the rest...even with its brown smudges on the corners and the many stains across the front and back...it was my favorite....my mom's old fashioned chocolate fudge with nuts!

Ahhh...I can almost smell the butter and vanilla boiling in the pan...


Not too long ago....while my mom prepared a meal in her kitchen I was able to re-visit those homemade cooks again. I uncovered the treasure box of days gone by and slowly and methodically sifted through each small, yellowed card whispering the story of the food and the era and the heart.
My mom reacquainted me with each of the authors once again.
"Who was Helen, mom?"
"Did Gramm live with us when she gave you this recipe?"
"I used to love that pickled tongue!" (...yes I said pickled tongue)

As I boarded the plane and made my way back home....the box was left behind with my mom.
Days later my sister and I spoke about the recipe box and I told her how much it had always meant to me.
We reminesced about our relatives and the funny foods we ate back then.
We remembered how much she hated Grammo's fried chicken.


And then this week an unexpected package arrived in the mail 
with my sister's address written in the corner.

I couldn't imagine what it was...it wasn't my birthday or Christmas...
...had I left something behind?
As I opened the lid and removed the tissue...
 a very special gift was exposed.

 No, it wasn't mom's wooden box...but it was wonderful all the same...
It was this fabulous old cookbook from the 1950's...
overflowing with another families treasured recipes and food stories.
Some handwritten, others cut from the newspapers and magazines, 
and still others written on the very page of the book.
It was immediately evident that it had been well-loved,
tape on the spine from its many years of use.


I fell in love with the book instantly...

Just like my mom's box...
I was overcome with the feelings of family, friendship and fellowship that came from
 the simple sharing of a favorite meal or dessert.

A seemingly plain wooden box and a nondescript book filled with the jewels of those memories.

I will never get to meet those that shared these newly found recipes 
with Doris McStevens (handwritten in the first page)...
But there is so much more than just the directions for making "Chicken Florentine"...
As I read through the ingredients and touch the fading words on each page...
I feel as though I do know them...
 For a moment I am back in my childhood kitchen licking the beaters from my mom,
laughing as the chocolate gets on my nose...
... feeling the warmth from the oven and the warmth from her heart...
For a moment I am in their kitchens too sharing a cup of coffee as the Crumb Cake finishes baking. 
And then I am back...searching for a recipe from long ago that I can share with someone today!

Thank you my sweet sister for reaching 
across the miles to make me smile!
It is no wonder I love to cook!

Stay Cozy, Carrie

16 comments:

Naturally Carol said...

Carrie, your story reminds me of my household growing up too. One day I think my own children may look at chocolate smudged pages and remember as well!

Diane Mars said...

I am sooooo.. glad you liked it. When I found it I thought of you, so now it's made it to it's new kitchen.. cannot wait to see what you make! oxox

Val said...

It is absolutely the memories that make recipes special. What a sweet thing to find in your mail. :)

Trace4J said...

Now that is one very special treasure!
Loved this post. I have wonderful memories of baking with my Grandmother. I love my recipe box and all the treasured recipes and memories that it holds.
You a have a wonderful sweet sister.
Blessings
Trace

www.grannytracescrapsandsquares.com

acorn hollow said...

The one regret I have from thrifting is I found a box full of hand written recipes and I didn't buy it.
Cathy

Needled Mom said...

We were recently talking about the treasures of the recipe boxes. I know my recipes by the writing or the smudges on them. Such wonderful memories.

My sister got my grandmother's treasured recipe box and in a move this year her entire household contents were "lost". One of the things she was most upset about was the loss of the recipe box. So sad!

debi said...

What a great story...and sister!!

Hugs!

pollydove said...

I love this post! There are things like that little brown box that are treasures to me too from my growing up years. As far as recipes go - well, sadly I am not one of those people who like to cook. But I saved my purple plastic recipe notebook from 7th grade Home Economics class because I did like the things we made and thought I would make them when I was 'bigger'. It's time, right? I'm bigger - let's break out the notebooks and cook!!!

Mary said...

Your post today is Beautiful! It brought back many memories of my life as a child as well as my life as a new wife and mother. You are blessed to have a wonderful sister as well as a wonderful mother. Thank you for these moments of sweetness!

C-ingspots said...

Oh, my mom used to have a box just like that one of your mom's. Same thing with the cards, many in my mom's handwriting, and some I can recognize and some not. What a beautiful memory!! My mom's gone now, but I wonder whatever became of her beloved recipe box? Sure would be a treasure if someday it turned up in my life. What a loving gesture from a sister who must love you very much...that, in itself is a treasure!!

wendy said...

What an absolute treasure indeed. It would be fascinating to go through those pages, and see the handwritten recipes.
It really is a connection to the past.

Melinda said...

How fun for you. It was nice of your sister to send this to you!

Have fun.

M :)

SewCalGal said...

What fun. By chance do you have an old recipe for a chocolate cake made with a can of tomato soup? It was a yummy cake, very moist, but I can't find my copy of this easy recipe anyplace.

SewCalGal
www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

Beverly @ My Sew Sweet Studio said...

You sure brought back memories for me with your story. I can remember my Mom's recipe box and her handwritten cards. My sister got it when when my Mom died. She is gone now and I need to find out what happened to the recipes.
How sweet for your sis to send you that old recipe book with so many memories of another's family for you to enjoy.
Oh, and I do have my mom's recipe for fudge and divinity, but never got them right. She knew just when the "soft ball" stage was by dropping some in a cup of water and made the most delicious candy.
Catching up tonight on some blog reading...I always enjoy coming here.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Thank you for taking me back today as I read your "written from the heart" post. I think all mothers everywhere would love if their daughters cared so deeply about something that they took the time to create. What a kind post and a sweet thing for your sister to do.

Deb said...

awww that was so sweet of your sister...my MIL had a recipe box too...she passed away when my hubby was just 9...when we were cleaning out my FIL's house recently Hubby and his brother found it...they enjoyed looking through the hand written recipes...I may just have to put them in a book for them...

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