There is something nostalgic, charming, comforting about recipes written on a 3x5 card. There is something disturbingly me about a recipe scribbled on the back of an envelope housing a Better Homes and Garden subscription offer dated March 1990. Even more disturbing is the dearth of punctuation and instructions. I can deal with the lack of instructions. I cook a lot so I can usually figure out what should be done. But punctuation? Why the lack of punctuation? I teach Latin on my off hours. I really should deal with punctuation. Oh wait! This scribble is dated March 1990. I was probably nursing a baby and cooking dinner when I scribbled this. Punctuation is optional for young mothers.
It does not bother me that I scribbled a recipe on the back of an envelope. Apparently I did that often. I discovered this old habit when I embarked on a major de-clutter project. Borderline neat-freak me discovered mid-process that I had 3 sealed boxes of stuff leftover from another life in another century that needed to be sorted and perhaps tossed.
As I sorted through the boxes I laughed, I cried, and then I squealed with delight when I found my long lost 1989 Ball Blue Book. Time stood still when I found my grandmother's recipe box. It was full of handwritten recipes. Most of the cards were in her own handwriting! Never mind that several of them were so old and worn I could hardly read them; they had been carefully handwritten and kept all these years.
I found some recipes given to my grandma in unknown handwriting. One was "from the kitchen of Mrs. Walter Snow." The fudge recipe was written by Pauline. She used to cut Ma's hair but made good fudge between coiffing the hair of white headed ladies.
The treasure card was for Oatmeal Cake. My Granny Griffith wrote that recipe on a decorated card and gave it to my Ma Stuart. I remember Granny, Mom, and Ma baking oatmeal cake. It was yummy. I found recipes in my Ma's collection that were written in my Mom's handwriting. Ma even had recipes written in my handwriting! I gave her recipes for cookies.
Some clown gave my Ma Stuart a recipe for spinach casserole. I do not recognize the handwriting and am quite certain my Ma never made it; at least not when I was at the dinner table. My Ma loved me.
My Mom has a huge collection of recipes written on cards. She wrote some when she attended the University of Arkansas but she wrote most of them after she married Dad in 1956. Like my Granny and my Ma she collected recipes from church potlucks, friends and neighbors. She clipped some recipes from newspapers and magazines and tucked those away in her card file. Mom's card file looks like an old library Dewey decimal card drawer. Remember those? I loved library card drawers almost as much as recipe card boxes.
I am afraid these golden years are forever past. Granny, Ma, and Mom preserved their family treasures on carefully written and filed 3x5 cards. My generation scribbled incomplete recipes on the backs of torn envelopes. My children? They never write recipes. They Google dinner and ask Mom (me) to bake their desserts.
I miss cards and old envelopes.