The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Christmas Gift Idea - Memory Recipe Box

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1989

Issue: December, 1989

A few days ago I got out my old recipe box to hunt a favorite recipe to share with a friend. I quickly found the recipe I was looking for, but couldn't resist thumbing through the whole box. It was like a trip down memory lane.

To begin with, the box itself is a memory. It is old and rusting now, but my mother bought it for me when I began taking 9th grade Home Economics and showed my first real interest in cooking.

Over the years, each recipe has become a treasure. Glancing through that box is like looking at a friendship scrapbook. There's JoAnn's Onion Pickle Recipe. She's moved to Florida and I haven't seen her for years. There's Phoebe's Pound Cake. Phoebe was once a next door neighbor and my children loved to visit her. There's the Potato Chowder Recipe another friend's Swedish grandmother brought with her from "the old country." There's the Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Recipe that was my children's favorite. There is my grandmother's recipe for Persimmon Pudding, written in my mother's handwriting. I really began to notice how many of the recipes were in the handwriting of the person who gave it to me.

The best loved and most used recipes have oil stains and are dog-eared and dirty. They tell their own story and are more precious to me than new recopied cards would be.

I suddenly realized that all those years when I thought I was only collecting recipes, I was collecting a part of everyone who shared them with me. What I was really collecting was memories.

This Christmas would be a good time to start a memory treasure recipe box for a special friend or young person. It would especially make a nice present for a bride.

Buy an index card file box at a local variety or office supply store. If you get a plain box, you might like to paint decorative designs on it. On the inside of the lid you could paint the name of the person you are giving it to.

Cut cards from poster board that fit into the box but are taller than the index cards that will be used for recipes. On the top of these, print headings such as: Bread, Beverages, Deserts, Meat, Vegetables, Soups, etc. Include some extra bland cards so the person can make some new categories of their own. Buy index cards to fit in box. They can be plain white or in a variety of colors. Copy your favorite recipes to get the box started.

Wrap the box with gift wrap and use a file card for a name tag with a "Recipe For A Happy Home" on it.

Recipe For A Happy Home

1 cup love
1 cup patience
1 cup understanding

Mix with generous helping of compassion and humor. Stir gently as too much agitation tends to make it tough. Bake fresh daily, sample often and it will never go stale.