Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Forty-One.
In my mother’s kitchen cupboard is a small, tattered, batter-stained, oil-splotched green-covered cookbook that says What’s Cooking in Chokio, Minnesota on the cover. It’s the kind of paper-covered cookbook communities and churches made seven or eight decades ago—you probably have one in your kitchen, or your mother’s kitchen, or your grandmother’s kitchen. This one belonged to my great-grandmother, and someday it will belong to me; my mother knows I want it, and it’s been earmarked mine.
One of the things I treasure is hand-written material culture from women in our lives. Recipes are sometimes the only record we have of our foremothers writing. My own grandmother wasn’t much of a writer, and I don’t have any recipes written on small cards from her—if you have such things from your grandmother, I suggest scanning them in and framing them in your kitchen. I wish I could.
What I do have is the green cookbook. It has notes and marginalia from my great-great-aunt Evelyn my, whom everyone loved. It has directions like “use a medium hot oven” and “adjust racks away from coals.” It’s beautiful, and tattered, and it is absolutely a family heirloom. My own aunt has taken to copying some of the recipes in the book, and this last Christmas, she sent Abby a recipe box with handwritten recipes from the book, along with notes about who is now Abby’s GGG-aunt-Evelyn. It’s a treasure, and Abby now has recipes written in her great-aunt’s hand. I hope she treasures them as much as they deserve. I suspect she will. This last weekend, she got the box out and made Great Great Aunt Evelyn’s Almond Spritz Cookies. All by herself.
Someday, the green cookbook will be hers.