When I was in my early twenties, I purchased my first recipe box. It came with lined recipe cards, so I pictured I’d have a neat and tidy assortment of recipes at my fingertips, one I’d treat with the respect a librarian gives to the card catalog.
Only I never did use those lined cards. Recipes came at me at different times and places, so I’d usually grab the nearest blank writing space, jot down hasty instructions, and somehow turn out a nice finished product. Like the backs of envelopes, notices from school, note pads and post-it notes. Plans to re-write the instructions were always in my head, but I’d do it later, when I had some free time.
I didn’t ever seem to have free time for the task, though.
The other day I searched for a recipe and remembered my commitment the day I had purchased the box. For a brief moment, I regretted my messiness, but then I saw some advantages to the haphazard pile of recipes before me.
Each time I take out this Peach Cake recipe, for example, I go right back to the day my roommate, Barbara, had rattled the recipe off the top of her head as I scribbled it on the closest thing I could find—this Gary Larson Far Side notepad paper. I remember how we thought the picture was hilarious (and I still do) and I think about how I’m lucky Barb is still in my life, even though she lives eight hours away.
Or my nana’s Scottish shortbread recipe…the second time it was given to me. I’d misplaced the first one Nana gave me while she was alive. After she died, I realized I’d lost the treasure. This small paper scrap is from the day I frantically called my mother and asked if she had the recipe. Thank God she did! This small piece of paper hardly does justice to the fond memories we all have for Sadie’s famous shortbread, but each time I pull this from the box, I think about Nana, the pride she took in making those each Christmas, and how I’d better not lose the recipe again.
Then there is one of the “neatest” recipes in the box, given to me by my friend Kris. One day while I visited her, she offered up her own lined piece of paper so I could copy her Apple Crisp Recipe. It’s still written in my hasty scribble, but each time I see this I think about the early days of our friendship and our great conversations over tea and, sometimes, chocolate.
What memories lurk in your recipe box?