A columnist from the Chicago Tribune recently wrote about the wonderful cooks in her family whose food brought such joy at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the problem is, the recipes were never written down to pass along to future generations. The family only has memories of the homemade dinner rolls and cornbread of favorite aunts, or a mother’s famous lemon cheesecake. The recipes died with them.
This is a reminder to those who have beloved family dishes, maybe a dessert, casserole, bread, or turkey stuffing but have not asked for the recipes. Maybe you are not a cook and don’t think to ask for them because someone else always makes them. Or maybe it is something you always think, “I’ll get the recipe one of these days when I have time.” There is no time like the present with Thanksgiving now behind us, and Christmas or other celebrations coming soon when all of the favorites are being made. You could tell your loved ones to write out the recipes as a gift for you. It doesn’t cost a thing and somewhere down the road you will be so grateful and happy that you hold something priceless to hand down to your family.
One of my most treasured recipes is this Devil’s Food Cake from my great-aunt Margery. It’s in her own writing on an old faded scrap of paper, and I think about her every time I make it.
Or these recipes that my childhood friend Linda sent to me last year with recipes from both of our moms.
Prize-winning “Spoon” cookies from a beloved relative in Finland, our cousin Leena.
Our favorite Christmas Ribbon jello squares.
More cookies from cousin Leena, in a dish shaped like Finland. They are called “Slice Cookies” made with a special ingredient from Finland that can now be purchased online.
Our family favorite Stollen.
The best ever Triple Chocolate Fudge!
Great-Aunt Margery’s bite-sized cookies called “Klegens” that are in my mom’s antique Italian Christmas tree serving dish, hand-painted and signed.
My prize-winning apple pie.
My mom’s Sloppy Joe recipe from the 1940’s.
The Maple Twist Coffee Cake that we have every single Christmas morning.
All of these dishes and so many more would be sorely missed if my girls did not have these recipes. When my mom passed away last year, the most precious item she left me was her recipe box. I would feel lost without that part of her in my life. So please, write down all your family favorites before it’s too late.
Recipes are not just recipes; they are moments in time that we can never get back once they are gone. Don’t have just the memories, have the written word of the person who will always be with you when you are in the kitchen making their family dishes. You will be able to taste the love.