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
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.
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