Monday, November 3, 2014

Why My Recipe Box is Better Than Yours

I went pretty far out on a limb with dinner tonight. I cooked something that my mom made when I was a kid. I remember liking it even when I was a picky eater, so I thought I'd give salmon patties a whirl. They were not well-received.

While I enjoyed my meal, the best part for me was telling the kids the story of my recipe box.

When I first lived on my own, my mom gave me a recipe box full of easy recipes and family favorites. Many have names worthy of the mid-1970's Good Housekeeping issues from which they likely came--Quick n' Easy Casserole, Nutty Green Beans, and Deli Style Party Salad. For the days I'm feeling zippy, I have both a Zippy Chili and a Zippy Cheese Omelet. I even have a recipe for Strawberry Congealed Salad, because anything with the word "congealed" in the title must be delicious.

A few recipes are handwritten, but most are typed. On a typewriter. They are now an antiquity.

If these recipes were perfect, they would mean a lot to me. They are remarkably lacking in perfection, which is why they mean even more.

You never know what you're going to get. Mom obviously typed them up quickly in between other responsibilities, so things are strangely abbreviated, misspelled, or just plain missing. My favorite discovery was the Broccoli Quiche that used frozen chopped broccoli. Under the list of ingredients, the instructions merely said, "Run hot water." Simple recipe, that Broccoli Quiche.

There is also the recipe that calls for "shreeded monzarella cheese,"

the Sauerbraten Deluxe (!) recipe that calls for "crumbled coolies,"

and the meal that should be served with "buttere oarsleyed noodles."

The verbs don't fare that well either. I'm told to rain the spinach well,

and to pout the melted butter.

When I get bored with my usual menu and start browsing the recipe box for "new" ideas, I need to remind myself that I had no known culinary skills at the time I received it. That's the only excuse for a recipe like Pork Chops & Baked Beans.

For a recipe with buttered toast, I'm reminded to make toast first. At least Mom assumed I could make toast without further instruction. 

I likely will never make most of the recipes in this box, yet I will never get rid of a single one. Each one was a gift of love from a mother to her hapless child. Each is a bit of an adventure, and nearly every one is unintentionally hilarious. 

The only thing better than a good story is a good story that makes you laugh. My recipe box is a good story. 


  1. I have my grandmother's (Andres) handwritten cookbook. You would enjoy reading this gem. She had the most beautiful penmanship.

  2. I love it. You should frame the best ones.