One of my Christmas gifts this year was this recipe box, which belonged to my grandma and is full of her well-loved recipes. Many of these recipes are signature dishes for our family, iconic features of holiday meals and family gatherings. They represent more than just delicious culinary creations; these recipes represent memories, and the warmth, love and safety of home.
I’ve written before about my troubled childhood and growing up with an addict mom who suffered from mental illness. Because of this, my grandma was a significant maternal figure in my life. While we still lived with my mom, my dad had visitation every two weeks, and we would often spend those weekends with him at grandma’s house. Those weekends were always full of the best parts of family – laughter around a table, sweet aromas wafting from a much-used kitchen.
It was in her home that I learned many of the values that I hold dear now – the importance of faith, how a good meal made with love can cover a multitude of sins and that true wealth is not a big house with many possessions, but rather the small things of a warm embrace and a kind soul.
It was my grandma who taught me to cook. Having been raised on a farm, her culinary style was Southern to the core – comfort foods like homemade dumplings and dressing. To this day, the aroma of celery and onions cooking in chicken broth harkens memories of grandma’s kitchen at the holidays.
However, grandma’s recipe box shows that there was more to her than just the Southern farm girl. One of her best dishes was a cake based on a mixed drink – the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail. Just like her recipes, grandma was tall glass of sass and spirit – and she taught me to be the same.
So, back to the Christmas gift – it was given to me with a caveat: I get to have the original recipes, but only if I type them up to distribute among the family. This is achievable enough – typing up a box full of recipes is no big deal for someone who types 90+ wpm (expert typist is on my resume) (just kidding). However, to make the task more enjoyable, I’ve decided that one of my goals for 2017 is to not to just type through the recipe box, but bake through it as well. I want to make every single one of my grandma’s recipes. When I’m in the kitchen, making one of her beloved dishes, I feel close to her, and I want those memories of a warm home full of love and laughter to be the trademark of my home now.
As I work through the recipes – I plan to share them on the blog, and I hope you’ll come along on this journey with me through grandma’s recipe box. I’m definitely not a foodie, so there probably won’t be styled pictures of succulent sweets posed just right with the best lighting. There’ll be messes and probably some failures. But, there’ll be bittersweet joy and love as I honor the gift I’ve received and my grandma’s memory.