I’m in my fifties, but every once in a while I find myself emailing my Mom, asking “Hey, do you remember the ????? recipe you used to make? Could you send it to me? I’d like to make it for Mark and the kids.”
Now, this doesn’t happen too often because I’m not the best of cooks and don’t particularly enjoy cooking, but on those occasions when I want to make something special, I turn back to the warm memories of smells and tastes of my youth and turn to one of my Mom’s old standby recipes.
She’s pretty good natured about these requests, especially when I’ve invariably asked for it a year or two before but then when I go to make it again later, I can’t find that email anymore.
So, now that all our kids are young adults and leaving the nests, I thought it would be a great idea to compile all of the old recipes into a cookbook and self-publish it to print and disk for everyone in the family. It helps that I once had my own print business since I still have the equipment necessary for printing and binding.
Going through the recipe cards my sister so graciously scanned for me (over 130 of them) while she visited my mother a couple of weeks ago, I can remember using these very same cards while I was still living at home to cook meals and bake – mostly baking because I’ve always been better at it and enjoyed it much more.
Cooking and baking are second nature to my mother as it was to her mother, grandmother and so on. This isn’t surprising considering her strong Acadian ancestry.
Reading these cards is like reading another language. She uses a very simple shorthand, with very little instruction, as she knows exactly what she means and can easily fill in the blanks with her years of knowledge. She liked to make little notes in the margins, such as those on the recipe image above. I, on the other hand, have to read, reread, dig deep into the long-forgotten recesses of my memory (which is considerably worse than it used to be) and hope to interpret properly when typing out the recipes.
I think I’ll have to resort to using my mother as an unpaid Editor at the end of it all and ask her to read through and make any corrections to my interpretations and translations.
I also think I’m going to use images of the original hand-written cards as images in the complete cookbook. They’re like mini time capsules showing the wear and stains of many years – no, decades – of loving use.
If I can exceed my past record for completing such projects, we might all one day see such a cookbook.