Pining for the West

Recipe books | May 24, 2009

Recipe books

Recipe books

I’ve inherited family recipe books which belonged to my mother and my granny. Over the years they collected recipes from magazines and friends and kept the most successful ones for their books. I started doing the same thing myself years ago and only recently began adding recipes to this blog, partly because I’m pretty sure that my family will be flying the nest fairly soon and if they want to know how mum made something, then it will eventually end up here for them.

It is all very handy having things printed on the computer, and no doubt for their generation it is the way to go, but I can’t help thinking that you miss out on such a lot of the charm of a home made recipe book. I am the older generation now as mum and gran have both shuffled off this mortal coil – that makes me seem ancient and I hope this doesn’t sound morbid, but it struck me that their handwritten recipes are really the only examples of their handwriting that I have, along with some cards.

So I think it is a great idea to keep up a tradition of handwritten stuff as it is so much more personal than printing on a computer and it gives the next generations something to leaf through in years to come. Especially as people seem to be getting into family histories so much now.

I know from personal experience that whenever someone close to you pops their clogs there is a general search amongst family members to gather up the best photographs taken over the years as reminders, and sometimes they are so bad and old that the person is hardly recognisable but somehow a person’s handwriting is usually so individual it is still very familiar to you, long after they are gone.

When my dad was seriously ill in hospital and I was stuck 500 miles away from him and unable to visit, I did the only thing that I could do at that time and sent a card. I was lucky to be working at that time with a woman who had spent quite a long time in hospitals over the years, and she told me to put a stamped addressed envelope and writing paper in with the Get Well card as she had often wished for that when she was marrooned in various hospital wards over the years. I would never have thought of doing that before, and I am grateful that she mentioned it, because my dad was able to write to me and 29 years later I still have his letter. He died later on that year and we don’t have any other examples of his handwriting.

Honestly I’m not being morbid. It’s just that I know how interesting these things can be to later generations.

We found a letter written to Jack’s great grandmother from his great grandfather when we were clearing out a family home. It is over 130 years old and he addressed her as “dear wife.” I wonder if he ever called her by her name.

Anyway, this post came about because I noticed a post by Susan Beal at West Coast Crafty where she shows a Mother’s Day gift which she compiled for the family including handwritten recipes and notes and I was really glad to see that someone else is keeping up the tradition of creating family heirlooms.

My recipe book is just a simple hardback notebook which was very cheap, but it was very easy to make a cloth cover to fit it with some material from my stash and instantly turn it into something altogether classier and unique. Fabric covered notebooks are so expensive in the shops.

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