My Recipe Collection Will Outlive Me

22 Feb

While making the  final revisions and formatting our soon-to-be-released cookbook, Cook Like A Writer by The Book Posse, a.k.a.  The Tasty Tuesday Authors, it occured to me that I’ll probably die  before I ever get a chance to make and enjoy all of the recipes I’ve collected over the years. It’s a morbid thought, but with the release of Cook Like A Writer, I’m adding 125 new recipes to my arsenal. I think I now have enough recipes to last me several hundred years. 

Nancy Baking

Me, circa 1980, with a cake I baked!

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 pull out her recipes from time to time, so I can look at her handwriting again, touch the stains, and wonder what she was thinking about when she last made the dish.

My grandmother liked to share her recipes, but they aren’t easy to follow. Most women in those days knew how to bake, and they assumed everyone knew. They didn’t mention that you need to add water while cooking dates, or they turn into cement. They didn’t mention the order in which 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. 

Some of her recipes–and my mother’s–are hopelessly outdated. I don’t think I could get away with making a cake filled with hidden quarters. Today’s mothers would be outraged at the potential choking hazard. Plus stuff was made with tons of salt and butter.

But I keep those old cookbooks, tattered index cards and torn sheets of paper. They remind me of the women behind the recipes, women who taught me how to cook, women whose recipes–and legacy–I now pass on to my daughters.  

4 Responses to “My Recipe Collection Will Outlive Me”

  1. Selena Robins Musings February 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Love this blog post! I think you can get through all the recipes before you’re 199, don’t you? 🙂

    I love the way your mom and grandmother cooked, it all makes sense to me.

    Great picture, hot mamma!

  2. 4amWriter February 23, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    You know, it would be neat if you copied a few of your grandmother’s original recipes and added them to your forthcoming cookbook. I love that they didn’t have proper directions, so newlyweds or new adults would have no clue how to make it the first time! I love the idea of showing a bit of your history/family background in the cookbook, and you could easily use them as chapter breaks, for each section like Dessert, Appetizers, Salads, etc. Just a thought.

    • nancyelauzon February 25, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      My critique partner and I have discussed many times writing a cookbook like that. ‘Cook Like a Writer’ is done, but we might do another one just like that!

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