I love to cook, try out new recipes, but still fall back on the tried and trusted recipes saved from generations ago.

My earliest memories in the kitchen are from Grandma Agnes as she worked her firm hands around the wooden rolling pin handles and pressed out her handmade crust. She was an expert at making apple pies from scratch.

Grandma Agnes’ recipes weren’t captured on 3 by 5 cards that came in all sorts of designs. Grandma used whatever piece of paper was available to capture her recipes.

I have Grandma’s metal recipe box stuffed full of handwritten delights. She had them indexed to include meats, salads, desserts, etc. Some were cut from magazines and taped to pieces of paper, some were in her handwriting complete with stains from the effort of making her meals. Grandma’s recipe box even included a holy card of Pope John Paul II.

Move up a generation, and the art of saving favorite recipes was captured in a slightly different way. My mom, Irene, was a fantastic cook. She could whip up a scrumptious meal in minutes, it seemed, for our family of 9. I still see her in her red and white checkered dress with a daisy on the front wearing her apron and standing at the stove. She always had a smile on her face while cooking. Some of the favorites I remember well included Yorkshire pudding, meringues, elevator lady spice cookies, and Thanksgiving dinner to feed a mob. Mom’s recipe box was a much larger metal box with her perfect script adorning each card.

Move up another generation, and the recipe box has taken a different shape and size. For a shower gift in 1979, my sister-in-law gave me a beautiful wooden recipe holder with a floral design painted on the front. The lid was a holder for the recipe being used at the moment. My box includes recipes of all sorts, many in the handwriting of family members and friends. Cards at that time were of the designer format and included the name of the recipe and the sender.

As time moves on, recipes have taken on a different format. The internet has amassed scores of recipes complete with video preparations in full color. Although recipes of today are more interactive and include screens that can be wiped clean in the event of a splash, I miss the marks left by human hands in the effort of making the perfect family meal.  And, if my memory serves me correctly, I think I can still smell an apple pie almost ready
in the oven.

Monica Sleap


See recipes from some of the Farther Along writing retreats here.