Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Cottonwood Butte in the distance

 No, it’s not what you think. I still have a ways to go before I finish the Halloween quilt. But on Monday (June 29), I finished entering my most used and/or cherished recipes on my iPad.

Our mailbox
Perhaps you don’t understand just how momentous this occasion is. For years – years! – I’ve carried my recipes back and forth – from town to farm and back again – in a battered manila envelope, just not knowing how to deal with them in two places. Of course, pulling the cards from the recipe box caused the loss of whatever organization I had and left me searching through piles for specific recipes no matter where I was. (Sometimes I just used the internet. It’s amazing how well that works.)
Blackberries in bloom behind mailbox

Then, when I got the iPad two years ago, I realized that this could be the answer to my recipe organizational woes, but I still didn’t step up to the task of entering them. The process seemed really cumbersome – lots of recipes on cards as well as scribblings on notepaper, print-outs, and pages from magazines. I did transfer some recipes, but lacking method, the process just became more difficult.

Hawthorn berries in the lane
But not any more. It’s amazing how a day comes and one tackles the problem. Recipes were entered quickly. Decisions were made. Scribbles were tossed while cards were sorted into piles for re-filing. (No, I won’t toss my original cards.)

And as I worked, I sometimes made notations about a recipe. Just who’s going to read it, I don’t know. If I were no longer available, say, would my daughter be able to access my recipes and read my notes? I think recipes are an important part of family history and hence the history of society in general. When I see my dad’s fudge recipe, I see him stirring away with a strong arm, then kneading and rolling the fudge. No, I’ll never use that recipe, but neither would I part with it.

Then there was that afternoon three years ago when I went through both Grandma Ina’s and Grandma Nina’s recipe boxes. If I hadn’t read them on the same day, I might not have discovered a common recipe – light crumb cake. Grandma Nina’s was correct, but Grandma Ina found her proportions off and made notations to correct it. Did Ina get the recipe from Nina? Did she call Nina and say, “That crumb cake just didn’t turn out like yours. What did I do wrong?” Or, maybe it was just a coincidence – a popular recipe of the day that appeared in both boxes. KW


Hallie said...

Why do you say Grandma Nina's recipe was correct? Were the recipes exactly the same but the one had additional notes? Did these two people know each other well and interact much?

Kathy said...

Yes -- they knew each other well. The two families were neighbors when they lived near Troy, Idaho, in the 1890s. Nina (b. 1886) was a little girl while Ina (b. 1870) was a young housewife. Nina's mother, Alice Stinson Sanders, was an emergency "go-to" person for Ina and her sister Bertha. Then, years later (1913?), Ina's daughter Pearl married Nina's brother Albert. When Ina relates gossip to Vance in her letters, she writes about Nina and her family (her mother, her siblings, her children).

Ina's recipe for "Crumb Cake" is not written in her hand. On the reverse side Ina has noted: Try using 1/3 cup butter and keep out only 1/2 cup crumbs for the top. Aug. 28. '38." And with those changes, the recipe is the same as Nina's. The crumb cake is delicious, I think, but rich. I avoid making it.

Mike said...

I had no idea those recipes were being toted back and forth. It's a wonder some didn't get lost. How much easier and more secure it will be now. Congratulations.

Kathy said...

It's a wonder someone didn't say, "What's this old thing," and toss it away. I worried about that.

Chuck said...

When I saw your first picture of the tracks in the field, I wondered what that had to do with the story. In fact, I didn't get much relevance in the story and any of the pictures. They are beautiful pictures, I must admit.

Kathy said...

Hi Chuck! Yes, my sense of order requires relevant pictures, but I just didn't have that for this post. nor did I have access to a scanner. So, I just posted a few pictures I had taken. I guess if a connection were to be made, it would be that a little jelly on that crumb cake is really good. I thought that Hallie and Nick might be interested in that blackberry bush blooming behind the mailbox. Not many of the blackberries here bear fruit. And I know that Joanne likes that hawthorn jelly, though I don't know if I'll make any this year. It's really dry, and that makes for dry fruit.

Chris said...

Yay for you!! And it is a wonder that the recipes didn't accidentally disappear over the years. I have my trusty recipe box, a huge binder full of recipes printed from the internet, and of course my cupboard full of cookbooks. But I don't have to carry any of them from place to place. I have a few recipes of Dan's mom and his paternal grandmother that I cherish. I also found some belonging to his maternal grandmother tucked into a disintegrating cookbook which I finally, sadly, had to throw out. They had lived for a time in the oilfields of Oklahoma and according to family lore the particles in the air caused paper to eventually turn to dust. (What must it have done to the people?)