Secret Receipts

There is something I’ve always loved about collecting vintage softbound cookbooks — whether put out by community organizations or companies to hawk a product — in addition to their lavish artwork and insane notions of food. That is the always hoped-for moment when an old fashioned, hand scribbled “receipt” (as they used to say) flutters out of the pages onto the kitchen countertop. Whether describing the method for putting up  green tomato pickles or for baking a strawberry-Jello cake, these faded, spidery notations have always seemed to me a lifeline to the past, a past that is hurtling away from us so quickly that soon we’ll only read about the matriarchs who personalized their recipes in books. It’s hard to say which is sweeter, the notes of my own forbears, my grandmother or great aunt or mother-in-law, or the cooking wisdom of a homemaker I’ll never identify. In any case, I tuck each artifact back into its place between the pages, so I don’t have one to show off here at the moment. I can display some of the cookbooks, though…

Check out this nice piece by Michael Popek on this subject in the Huffington Post, illustrating his attempt to “keep the cycle alive.” He even had the sense to document the recipes before sticking them back in their time capsules.

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Filed under Art, Cooking, Home, Jean Zimmerman

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