The Recipe Card to Live by

Recipes are handed down and retyped and printed off, and food itself carries with it ultra-sensory filled memories that comfort and heal us. Sometimes for me, it starts with a simple recipe card.


The recipe swap used to be gathering in someone’s kitchen and everyone brought recipes and recipe cards to copy down by hand the recipes they wanted. No, printed off electronic recipes. No copy and paste. Usually, it was a simple pot luck of a recipe and casual because the goal was only to swap recipes. I repeat there was no other goal of selling anything. The gathering with food and fellowship was not a mask for an underlying pyramid scheme. Peddling of anything else other than recipes, some gossip, or wine was not a part of the afternoon or evening.

The most recent recipe swap was unfortunately was years ago, and it was only two of us. BUT, it reminded me of why I love recipe swaps. We of course talked recipes, gardening, and kids, animals and how to cook healthier, but now I have this tangible reminder of the day. I have recipes from my childhood written in my mom and grandmother’s hand. I don’t think I will ever part with these recipe dinosaurs because it grounds me. I found a small notebook of my dad’s handwritten favorite recipes which now holds a special place in my already overcrowded recipe box. Each time I cook from any of their recipe cards or just hold them in my hand, I see the turn of letters and numbers and remember a time when I sat in the kitchen hearing voices of loved ones that I will never hear again.

I have added new cards to my ever extinct recipe box and have actually used the recipes. Pulled out the card somewhat stained and smudged and made something delicious. No stars rating it, just my family requesting that I make it. I also have newspaper cut outs with notes which I have now adapted into my recipe box. Granted, some recipes I will never cook, but somehow the allure of my grandmother cutting something out from a 1970 magazine is appealing to me especially since she made notes on it.

When I managed a recreation center at a retirement community, I reveled in how there was never a second thought that they weren’t going to copy a recipe down and bring it to me. It wasn’t, I’ll bring the card and you make a copy, or I’ll send it to you via email. NO. That would not do. I was handed an array of handwritten recipes and given verbal pointers and instructed to let them know how it turned out.

I love all the recipes in my collection not so much because I am cook or that they are the best recipes, but because they each tell a story of my family and my life.


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