Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My Recipe Collection Will Outlive Me

Or put another way, I'll die before I ever make all of the recipes I've collected over the years. That's a frightening thought, but the more recipes I collect and the longer I live, the more it's true. I seem to like the collection process, but not so much the actual making process. For one thing, I don't have time to cook much anymore. It's easier to pick up a frozen meal and heat it up. The pies you buy at the grocery store taste better than any pie I'll ever make. And when are the members of my family (those that aren't married off or away at college) home at the same time, to actually sit around a table to eat a meal?

Then there are the various diet recipes I've collected. I have all the books, gathering dust on my kitchen bookshelf. The latest one, The 17-day Diet, really worked. It lasted exactly 17 days, until my husband and I decided we couldn't live without bread anymore.

I have stained, tattered, handwritten recipes that belonged to my grandmother for dishes like Blueberry Grunt (don't ask) and Money Cake. Most of her recipes are for dessert -- squares, puddings, cake, pie, cookies -- since that's mostly what they eat in Cape Breton, the island where she's from. I don't pull out her recipes to make stuff. It's not that I don't love dessert, I just want to look at her handwriting again, and look at the stains, and wonder what she was thinking about when she last made the dish. Those bits of paper are all I have left of her.

My grandmother like to share her recipes, but they aren't easy to follow. Women in those days knew how to bake, so they assumed anyone reading the recipe knew too. They didn't tell you that you need to add water to dates to cook them or they turn into cement. They didn't think they needed to mention the order to add ingredients to a cake. Sometimes they even left out 'tsp' or 'cup', assuming a person would know that you don't put a cup of baking soda in anything unless you're making a homemade bomb. 

Also, some of her recipes are hopelessly outdated. If I don't think I could get away with making a cake filled with hidden quarters. Today's mom's would be outraged at the potential choking hazard. Plus stuff was made with tons of salt and butter. There was no such thing as lean hamburger. 

I miss the old days ...


  1. I have an exercise book that I add hand-written recipes to. My Mother has written quite a few of them in for me. Before I cook I need her to decode them. My Mother bakes EVERYTHING from scratch & it tastes HEAVENLY. When I have time I do to.


  2. Yummy, wish I lived at your house, LOL. Thanks for the comment!