Thursday, December 27, 2012

Traditions: Some Things Don't Change

Actually some things do change.  Now a days I am as likely to go to my laptop and google the Food Network for a recipe as I am to scour my cookbooks and old recipes.  Really the options are


                                               OR THIS:

Believe me my files on my desk top (I do have one labeled Recipes) don't look much better.   So Google it is.

Unless I am baking cookies for the holidays.  Then I need those recipes that have become traditions in our family:  Mint brownies, ginger snaps, lemon bars, raspberry diagonals, nutmeg logs....

Those recipes are easy to find in my hard copy "files".  They are yellowed, brittle and stained written on index cards or scratched out on scrap paper meant to be recopied one day(hasn't happened in 25 years).   Actually some of them have been typed and filed on my desktop...somewhere.... but when I am baking for the holidays I prefer


They are recipes handed down over the years from family and friends.  Some have been translated.  Lard the size of your fist  =  a cup of shortening.  And baking soda as the last digit on your pointer  = a tsp. of baking soda.

Some of these recipes crumble in my fingers but they are part of the Christmas tradition for me.
Each year I scramble to find the favorites and stumble upon another and another and inevitably make too many and too much.

I begin just after Thanksgiving and have had  to find new places to hide the tins and foiled batches of cookies from husband and kids deprived of homemade cookies all year long.

One year  a roll of toilet paper appeared on top of the Christmas tree with the message:  If you want the angel back, give us the mint brownies.  The toilet paper stayed on top of the tree until Christmas eve.
The recipe I kept a family secret and only made those brownies on Christmas.  When the youngest finally wheedled it out of me for a special school event the brownies began appearing as birthday gifts and at other special occasions.  The rest of the kids were disgusted(the very ones who planted the toilet paper on the tree in fact).  I had broken a sacred family tradition and proved their suspicions about who was the favorite in the family.

Now my daughter-in-laws have the recipe, neatly typed and attached to emails.  The mint brownies and all those recipes are from a time long before computers and Internet, long before I began writing my manuscripts in long hand, typing final drafts on a typewriter... I still pull out the old yellowed index cards, the recipes that have been copied and re-copied splattered and brittle and with them the memories of friends and families and Christmases past.


Barbara O'Connor said...

I love using those old worn recipes, too. One of my prized possessions is a little notebook of my grandmother's recipes written in her hand.

Love the toilet paper, too.

Lee Stokes Hilton said...

Karen -- This was lovely. Leslie posted it on my FB page, and I read it with great warmth in my heart. Love those old ragged and spattered cards -- a real connection to our ancestors. So thanks for sharing!