Family Recipes

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Y’all, some of my most treasured possessions are of course my family recipes.  The ones that I have of my grandma Jeans, on her recipe cards and in her hand writing are more valuable to me than gold.  I have been trying to collect these recipes to have and pass down to future generations.  I am sort of the keeper of these treasures.  I have been spending every minute that I can when I am with family members asking for their recipes and ones passed down to them.  It seems though that so many have been lost throughout the years due to  1, not thinking to get them while family members are alive, or 2, trusting in verbally passing them down.  The problem is that my grandma and even mom, most of the times had made these recipes so many times, they didn’t have a written recipe.  They just knew how much to use.

I don’t remember a time that I didn’t hear at a family get together, “remember how good grandma’s dumplings were, or how great Aunt Carols cake was”.  But now they are gone and nobody thought to write down the recipe from them.  So I decided to give some tips and reminders about collecting and saving these family treasures.

  • Many of the most delicious and special desserts are not passed down from previous generations.  Ask Grandma to explain her signature recipes step-by-step. Then move down the family tree, picking up dishes as you go.   You will be surprised at how enjoyable this can be.  Not only will you be preserving the recipes, you will be bringing back memories to the relative you are talking with, and making memories of your own in the process.
  • Even the most eager-to-share cooks are not going to be at their chattiest when they’re preparing Sunday dinner or a big holiday or family meal. Wait until they have time to show you what makes their banana pudding so luscious.  Actually make it with them and learn from their process.  Remember, adding dry to wet or wet to dry can make all the difference, and they may not think to tell you that part.  So make the recipe with them and learn.  By the way, you just created another memory of your own.
  • Grandma may have no idea if she uses a 1/4 teaspoon of this or a 1/2 cup of that. Get your video camera, smart phone or other device you might have and make a video of her as she makes the dish, and you’ll a record of how to recreate the magic later. Plus, you’ll have a digital memory to share with future generations.  See…Another memory you made of your own and have for ever to watch over and over.  I have videos of my Mamaw, and my Grandma Miracle, and treasure those.
  • Ask them to tell you the history behind the recipe. Who did they originally get this from? How have they changed it over the years?  Ask them stories about the person they got it from and what it meant to them to make it and bring back memories from their childhood perhaps.  This is also a good time to video record your time
  • Use your findings to create a printed or online cookbook for the entire family. A private blog is a great way to upload those videos for your family’s eyes only.   Share these treasures with your family and they can continue to pass them down from generation to generation as well. 

I can’t tell you how much it hurts knowing that I don’t have recipes from some of my grandmothers and aunts.  I just never took the time when they were still here with us, to get them.  My family will attest to the fact that I now harass them over and over for recipes from our family’s past.  Guess what, they always seem to come up with them for me though.

So y’all get out there and gather up all those family recipes and memories.  You will be so happy  you did.  Oh, and if you find any really good recipes, I’d love to see them too…..

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6 Comments on Family Recipes

  1. Greg,

    I have some of those hand printed, food stained recipes that I wouldn’t take a million dollars for. Sloppy Joes is still one of my favorites. I’ve never met anyone who’s hasn’t heard of Sloppy Joes. 🙂

  2. avatar The Witch's Kitchen // May 21, 2012 at 11:48 am // Reply

    I have a lot of those recipe cards as well. I wish that I had spent more time with my grandmother to learn her *tricks* in the kitchen. As you said, she never measured anything! She just poured into her hand or bowl and *knew* it was enough.

    I know I will never meet her talent & knowledge in the kitchen but I like to think I inherited some of it!

  3. Thank you Chef!!! I’m with you all the way on this! I treasure the few handwritten recipes I still have from my grandmother on 3×5 cards more than I can tell you! My treasured recipe file has made many a flight in my handbag 🙂 That’s actually the main reason I started LBC… One of these days (soon I hope) I’ll create yet another index page so the family recipes will be easier to access!

  4. Looks just like the recipe cards I have from my Mama! They are treasures!
    Tip… The dirtier the card; the better the recipe!
    Mama told me one time that you can got a any kitchen in the country and pick the dirtiest page in the recipes or cookbook and everyone will love it and claim it as their favorite.
    The dirty part means that it was cooked often which means they liked it 🙂

  5. I agree… those handwritten recipes are my most precious treasures or the cookbooks that my grandmother and mother wrote comments beside their most used recipes…

  6. avatar Rockcreekrecipes // May 22, 2012 at 1:52 am // Reply

    I have many of my grandma’s handwritten recipes and I wouldn’t trade them for any amount of money. I always wonder what the women of her generation would have done with the technology that we have today. Most of my recipes are typed in word documents. Somehow, the handwritten recipe card seems to mean so much more.

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