Grandma’s Recipes

My sister and I were hanging out at her house Sunday evening, just gabbing, making fun, laughing and all that good kind of stuff that sisters do. She fed me a homemade ice cream sandwich, made with homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with not-so homemade ice cream and a good sprinkling of extra chocolate chips.

And I felt no guilt whatsoever eating all of that sugar and deliciousness, because it was delicious, and I had been to the gym two days in a row!

After I enjoyed my ice cream cookie sandwich, we sat at her table. Suddenly, she got up and walked away and just as quickly returned with a recipe box which she plopped in front of me. I opened it up and found…

Grandma’s recipes.

A big smile spread across my face and I dug in. And my grandma came flooding back in my mind. See, my grandma had a way with recipes. She didn’t just have recipes, she collected them. She clipped them and she copied them. She made notes on them where she made adjustments to the measurements or process. Many of the recipes had a handwritten note to remind Grandma that she’d made a particular dish or dessert for a birthday party or an open house.

Wherever possible, Grandma would make note of who the recipe had originated with and she would often write whether it was good, or VERY good. She was also sure to document if a recipe was similar to another recipe she already had in her possession, as I realized when I came across the recipe for Scotcheroos which included a note stating, “O’Henry Bars,” which were one of Grandma’s standards!

I remember the Sundays we’d spend at my grandparents’ house and I remember looking at her recipes back then too. Sometimes Grandma would ask me to copy a recipe or two for her. Obviously, she asked my cousins to do the same when they visited too. So many of the recipes were neatly printed in a child’s writing. I loved to look through Grandma’s recipes even when I was a kid. The cards held the names of people in my grandma’s life, people I didn’t know. I tried to picture them based on their names. What kind of cakes were made by a woman named Agnes? Just how good was Beulah’s white bread? Just how short was Shorty Neumann and where did he learn to make dill pickles?

My grandma was green before being green was the thing to be. She wrote her recipes on scraps of paper, recycled index cards that my aunt brought home from her office job, and even… bank deposit slips.

My sister had just one small box of Grandma’s recipes. It was just one of the many Grandma left behind when she died. By the time my grandma passed away, she had box upon box of recipes she’d transcribed and collected over the years. And when Grandma’s children divided her possessions among them, my mom was either lucky enough or smart enough to find herself in possession of the collection.

There wasn’t anything my grandma couldn’t cook or bake. We loved her stewed chicken and a particular salad she made just for us kids, with lettuce, apple slices and mandarin oranges. But if you take a look through all of those recipes, you’re not likely to find most of Grandma’s standards documented on an index card. And all of those boxes mostly contained recipes for desserts anyway!

Looking through Grandma’s recipes brought her back to me and brought me back to her kitchen, where I’d kneel on a chair and watch her knead bread dough or prepare her delectable cake doughnuts. Sometimes she’d be mixing up a batch of our favorite no-bake peanut butter balls, letting us kids help measure, mix and stir and then roll out the balls on a cookie sheet. Many times, she’d be cooking up a banana or chocolate pudding to pour in graham cracker pie crust. Grandma knew how much we loved her goodies and there was never a shortage when we went to visit; never a shortage of treats accompanying us on our ride back home again either. Grandma loved us well and in many ways, but we sure liked how she loved us up with her home-baked treats.

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20 thoughts on “Grandma’s Recipes

  1. Those old recipes tell a great story! How lucky that they are now in your sister’s possessions. They should be handed down for generations. It’s gonna be hard to hand down my recipe notes. They’re all done online. :)

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  2. Boy, that brings back memories. My Grandma Odie was a cooking fiend. Raised 8 kids in the Depression and could whip up enough food to feed a ship. Everything made from scratch and most of her cooking was done from memory. Meringue pies were her specialty. My mom was a fantastic cook as well and could cook circles around most people, I recall many of her recipes were “a dash of this and a smidgen of that” and she made good use of a double boiler all the time. Those are the kinds of memories you cannot buy anymore. Glad to see that your sister has held on to them.

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  3. What a coincidence. Wife and I are in CT with my Dad and we were looking through my Mother’s recipes too and talking about the history they represent and just a couple of weeks ago we were looking through our own recipe box and reminiscing.

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  4. And don’t you know that she’d be amazed to have her words “out there for the whole world to see?” My Grandma was a great baker, too, (I think many of them were in that time) and I treasure any of her hand-written notes.

    Beautiful!
    MJ

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  5. Those Fudge bars sound great and I’ve made those cherry cookies before -very good, I must agree! Don’t you just love going through recipes like this? I did have all my Mom and my Grandma’s recipes here -a couple recipe boxes plus 2 or 3 notebook type (essay notebooks) and 2 big recipe books of their but somehow, over the years, they’ve either somehow been pitched (obviously by someone other than me and someone who knows I NEVER toss books and such) but it’s a frustrating thing for me to suddenly realize they have all disappeared! I’ve been on a search and destroy mission online (at Your Old Cookbooks site, I think it’s called) where you can search for all different types of old cookbooks as well as a site for Lost recipes too! I’m looking for a cookbook put out by the church in Pittsburgh my Mom’s brother’s family belonged to as that church put out a great cookbook back in the 50s that I know has numerous recipes of my aunt’s plus a bunch too from two of my Mom’s cousins as well -both also very good cooks and bakers as was my aunt. I did locate a book from that church but it was an earlier publication and didn’t have the recipes from the family members I was seeking so the hunt goes on! Enjoy these recipes and transcribe them on your computer and then you and your sister can compile a family recipe cookbook!

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  6. What a treasure to have kept your grandma’s recipe box! Isn’t it wonderful how certain smells remind us of the past and those we loved who aren’t with us any more?

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  7. What a wonderful thing to have! I think, not so much for the recipes, but for the fact that they were Grandma’s and they have her little notes and comments. Thanks Terri, you made me think of my Grandma today!

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  8. A trip down nostalgia lane. Very nice for you! My mom collects cookbooks, so who knows where all her recipes come from!

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  9. My gramma from Sicily never used recipes. She used to ridicule people that used or depended upon them . Later I learned it was her memory, so atune as she could not read. She could write her name and that was it.

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  10. Very cool. My grandma was never much of a baker, but my mom is. This made me think back to all of the things my mom used to make for us when we were kids. :)

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  11. I can relate…my mom writes on her recipes and so do I; I got it from her. I like to know if I’ve made the recipe before and if I liked it or if it turned out tasteless or tough. I write the date on their too. Maybe someday my grandkids will be just as happy to have my collection.

    I love that your grandma used bank deposit slips. :) Awesome!!!

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