Here is a cookbook no one will have or be able to find, because it is just some of our family recipes. While cleaning out her room, my daughter Kara came across this binder that I made for her years ago. She wanted all her favorite recipes to take with her to her college apartment. As I was searching for them in my old, beat-up, but well-loved wooden recipe box, I realized that so many of my treasured recipes were only on yellowed old recipe cards, or clippings that were falling apart with age. It put me in a little bit of a panic when I realized that if I didn’t write these down elsewhere, they could be lost forever and only be a memory. How sad would that be, not to have my grandmother’s prize-winning blueberry pie, my own prize-winning apple pie, or my mom’s pepperpot soup.
Having received so many heartfelt emails from readers asking if I have certain recipes because they lost theirs somehow, or they failed to ask mom or grandma to write down recipes that were only in their own heads, I can’t emphasize enough to write down family recipes and keep them safe. Once a loved one dies, sometimes the recipes die with them. When my husband Bill and I were first married and he wanted a real Finnish pasty (meat pie), I asked one of his elderly relatives, Esther, and of course she said there was no recipe – it was all in her head. Knowing that the old Finns always made pasty for the noon meal on Saturdays, I asked Esther if I could watch her make the pasty. She loved that I wanted to learn, so off I went to her cozy little kitchen. However, she thought it was so funny that every time she went to throw something in a bowl, I would measure it first – but I got the recipe and it tastes exactly like Esther’s. It was so fortunate I had that lovely experience with her because later she developed Alzheimer’s and the family recipe would have been gone forever.
One recipe I have never been able to duplicate exactly is my great-aunt Margie’s soft sugar cookies. Sometimes I just ache for them. She didn’t have a recipe either and it died with her. I can still see her making them, with flour flying around her small counter, landing all over the front of her apron, and then the aroma that filled her little kitchen was intoxicating. How I miss her and would give anything for one more bite of her warm, made-with-love cookies.
If you have treasured family recipes that are not written down, don’t hesitate any longer. Ask for the recipe from another relative, or if you are lucky enough that an elderly relative is still alive, take the time to sit and make the recipe with him or her, measure every morsel, and let the flour fly. You will never be sorry. And future generations will thank you.