Saturday, August 21, 2010
The gift of recipes
Many years ago I gathered and published into a cookbook recipes from families in our school community, intended as a gift to the faculty and administrators of the school. We had plenty of copies, however, and many families benefited from the collection in their own kitchens. As the person who processed all the handwritten recipes into a publishable format, I got to know quite a few of those mamas, as well as their style in the kitchen. Some were "scratch cooks" as I often call those who bake and cook the way their mothers did, using recipes passed down in the family. Some were "modern cooks" who used modern ingredients to create fusion foods -- combinations of multi-cultural dishes. It was all good.
I remember one woman in particular who told me some of her best recipes came to her as a wedding gift, from a dear friend who could not afford a pricey gift, but instead gave her a gift from the heart -- some of her best recipes. As a private business woman with a catering business she had some real keepers, and had gifted them to her friend to start her own collection in her own newlywed's kitchen. How precious, I remember thinking -- how very personal.
It was not long after that I started my own collection for my two young cousins Amy and Jill, and then several years later for my niece Rachel. I gave them my very favorites -- easy recipes that a young woman can make with little experience, and family recipes -- dishes they may have enjoyed in my mother's or my kitchen.
I came across some blank recipe cards recently when I was cleaning a kitchen drawer and I was reminded that I had not gifted any new recipes in at least a year. Having just baked a loaf of banana bread, I sat down with the recipe and copied it -- I'll give a handful of new recipes to Rachel for her upcoming birthday. Years ago I gave her to box to hold the recipes. Maybe this year an apron and some kitchen tools for her hope chest.
I have never known a woman who did not treasure a hand-copied recipe from a beloved family member. Those recipes always seem to taste so much better. They elicit memories and warm feelings that make the food created so much better, so much more real, if that's possible.
When money is tight we often resort to homemade gifts, but you don't have to wait for crunch time to give family recipes. Offered in a collection box, or tied with some kitchen twine, paired with some wooden spoons and a set of stainless measuring cups, the gift of family recipes are heartfelt and cherished and can be given for any special occasion.