Cooking and baking are two of my favorite past times. There’s something about creating meals and treats for family and friends that, besides being fun, is therapeutic. Not to mention that I enjoy eating food prepared from “scratch.”
One of the advantages of preparing food in the modern world is the availability of recipes online. With an internet search, there are recipes for pretty much anything I could ever dream of cooking or baking at the click of a mouse.
The other day, for example, I wanted to use the fresh raspberries I had just picked to make a dessert so I searched for “fresh raspberry cake recipes.” In a couple of seconds, pages of recipes appeared on my computer screen. I scrolled through them, clicking on the ones that looked intriguing, until I found one that I thought sounded good and was fairly easy to make.
The cake turned out to be delicious so I’ll keep it saved on my iPad until the raspberry season is over. Next year, I’ll probably do an internet search for a new recipe.
But my use of, and appreciation for, recipes on the internet hasn’t diminished my affection for my old standby recipes, especially those that are written in my mom’s, grandma’s or sister’s handwriting. The recipes, some so food stained and tattered that I can barely read them, are special, not only for the dishes or baked goods I will create with them, but because I associate the person and the memories with the recipe.
My go-to muffin recipe, for example, is my sister Bonnie’s Berry Cream Muffins, made with fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries. My sister is one of my favorite people, and it makes me smile when I think about the cooking and baking adventures we shared growing up.
Another cherished recipe, Marcia's M & M cookie recipe, is from my late mom, who was a veteran cook and baker. Anything she made was delicious so, when I wanted a recipe for M & M cookies, I asked for hers. I haven’t seen the recipe, which uses shortening instead of butter as an ingredient, anywhere else. Some people might think such a small change wouldn’t make a big difference, but I think it does. I haven’t tasted anyone else’s M & M cookies that I like as much. Of course, I’m biased because my mom was one of the kindest, gentlest and best cooks I know, and I can feel her love when I make the cookies..
Though I do a lot of baking, I also, of course, cook meals for my family. At my house, gathering at the table for at least one daily family meal is one of our favorite ways to spend time together.
My grandma Anna's recipe for waffles is one of my favorites when I’m making a big breakfast for my family. She gave me the recipe, written in the perfect cursive handwriting she learned at teacher’s college, at a wedding shower. I wrapped the recipe in clear tape to protect it, and 29 years later, I still pull it out and use it. The recipe and memories of my grandma making waffles for breakfast at her house are dear to my heart.
Future generations may have something even better than the internet, but I hope they will remember to look in my recipe boxes and find one of mine, penned on a card, food stains and memories intact, when they’re looking for one that’s extra special.