Rescuing Family Recipes

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Every family has a different method for storing treasured recipes. My mother has a cabinet stuffed with an array of cookbooks, as well as a box full of handwritten recipes passed from generation to generation. As a kid I would spend hours thumbing through the recipes and daydreaming about food.

As the Internet becomes a primary cooking resource, recipes are now also shared through social networks, blogs, and other food-related Web sites. As a result, handwritten recipe cards are becoming increasingly rare, and I miss them.

There’s something special about a handwritten recipe card that creates a personal connection to the cook who wrote it. The frayed edges, stain splatters, and notes written the margins all but exclaim, “This is a tried and true recipe!”

Family Recipes for Sale

It surprises me when I come across full recipe boxes at garage sales and flea markets. As one generation ends, the next decides not to carry on the tradition. I recently discovered many recipe boxes each filled with a lifetime of vintage, handwritten recipes are also for sale on eBay.

After looking through the eBay listings, I felt compelled to purchase two of the recipe boxes. When I received the boxes and opened them, it felt as though I had stepped into another person’s kitchen. I could see the cook’s likes and dislikes from the recipes she chose to keep.

I wondered how many birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday dinners these recipes had been used, as well as whom they had fed.

Saving Family Recipes for Future Generations

The digital age encourages some people to downsize and reduce paper clutter around their home. But, maybe with a little forethought, we can save a few more recipe boxes from being sold, swapped, or even thrown into the garbage.

The first step in rescuing recipes is as simple as making your wishes known. If you have amassed a personal collection of recipe cards, let your children, nieces, nephews, or friends know how much the recipes mean to you in the hope they will work to preserve them when the time comes.

In my case, I’ve let my mother know that I want the family recipes, some of which are written by my great-great-grandmother. I figured it’s best to let my mother know how important the recipes are to me, just in case she gets any ideas about throwing them out because she thinks no one wants them!

Recipes you might enjoy:
Vintage Banana Cake Recipe
Vintage Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Share your thoughts and tips on collecting recipes with other BakeSpace Members by adding a comment below.

A farm boy transplanted in an urban city, I enjoy writing about my kitchen experiences as an escape from a hectic internet industry day-job. You’ll find me writing at EATING OUT LOUD where I show what I’m making in my own kitchen, as well as RECOVERED RECIPES where I share my vintage recipe card collection. Also find me on @EATINGOUTLOUD.