Old recipes are like family treasure

As some of you know I recently came across a collection of hand written recipes belonging to my mother and am in the process of transcribing them from the various scribbles on paper or inserts in cooks books. Some of these recipes I don’t actually recall her making. However she loved writing them in the hope that she would get around to it. Or would have a particular occasion where she could pull one out. But the process has stirred so many emotions and memories of the wonderful cooking my mother did. As well as the many happy afternoons I spent snuggled beside her watching Live at Three or Ready Steady Cook engrossed by the hints and tips the chefs would give. There would always be a pen to hand just incase. And I can honestly say Ready Steady Cook was where I learnt to cook things out of very little.

As I was working through the recipes, trying to figure out possible ingredients. I came across a wonderful story from The Vintage Kitchen about a lost recipe for Date Accordians. And how the online community of foodies was able to find the exact recipe for a lovely elderly lady whose family treasure was accidently thrown out. You can find the full story by clicking the link here https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/33267014/posts/150634.

As I read the tale of the accidental loss of the recipe to its return. I was struck, by how devastated I would be, if anything happened to this collection of papers I have belonging to my mother. When I look upon them I feel her presence in the hand writing and her whispers in my ear as I contemplate what she might have been trying to say. I have laughed out loud at some of her descriptions speed writing and longed to ask her how some of them turned out. If she has any hints or tips. I have been excited when I come upon one that I know I have tasted, that I may have helped make or seen on a family table for a party or huge gathering she was so brilliant at throwing.

Recipes don’t just create beautiful dishes, they are part of creating memories. Our brains not only registers the taste and sensations as we spoon cake into our mouths. They register all the details of why we are eating, who we are with; where we are enjoying this moment; how we feel as we are doing it? And so a memory is created for every sense in the body. That memory stays, those tastes get logged into your food memory bank. So when an old recipe is discovered it is filled with history, of special times and a hidden story of when it might have been cooked, by whom and why?

A family recipe has an added value. It has that love factor. Maybe your granny made a certain drink for you to help you sleep. Maybe your dad’s gravy was the thing of legends. There are so many possibilities. Then some day the secret recipe is handed down or discovered and you are brought straight back to those moments. If only we could time travel, I know. You’ll revel in the memory while considering giving the dish a try yourself. It wont taste the same because theirs was made with 1000 grams of love. Their love. Its one of the reasons I never cook anything my mother in law cooks for my husband. Mammy’s is always the original, and mine will never be the same to him as it doesn’t have the emotional memory connection from hers. A mothers love. Just as its supposed to be. I have so many of those moments in my memory bank and this journey through my mothers cook books and scribbles has churned up endless good food moments and family events. I wonder am I half the cook she was? Quiet accidently I have discovered that both my mother and I are the same when it comes to writing recipes. I too am a nightmare for scribbling things on the closest bit of paper along with forgetting to write a heading and a title. Despite having a perfectly good notebook for this very purpose.

I came upon such a case yesterday when looking through a huge cookbook belonging to my mother. A scrap of paper fell out with various ingredients scribbled onto it. No heading, no method, nothing. I set it aside trying to figure it out while browsing through the book in question. When low and behold a second piece of paper fell out. But this time it was my writing. As I looked at it I realized that both my mother and I had written out pretty much identical ingredients. I too left out the title, heading and written on a scrap of paper. Then put the recipe in the same book years later. I could have cried. It was quiet over whelming. I kept staring at the recipes trying to figure out what it was for. After making the essential cup of tea to help contemplate, talking at my mothers picture that sits here on my desk, something struck me. I just felt whatever it was, it screamed desert and possibly ice-cream. Then all the cupboards in my brain opened and I new exactly what I was looking at. Chocolate Flambé Ice Cream Pudding. And not just any ice-cream, pudding. But one she had made as part of a huge ice cream cake for my 21st birthday. It was all different types of ice-cream covered in a spun sugar caramel. It was stunning and took her ages to create all the individual parts. Having found the actual recipe in the said book my instincts were confirmed. The memories flooded back, along with the story and requests for making this cake. Which I will do at some point. The scraps of paper are now together safely wrapped up for old times sake. My heart skipped a beat and I spent the day smiling at the whole thing. I am my mothers daughter no doubt about it.

Of course, now I am aware of it. I am trying to at least put a reference to my scribbles in case my son, like me, stumbles upon these kitchen treasures after I’m long gone. I hope if he does he will remember so many happy moments we have had around a table. That he will give them a go thus creating another memory with someone else. And so the legacy of great food lives on as we cook, eat, laugh and create memories over a plate of food. The Vintage Kitchen tale, was one of such a family treasure. I was so thrilled when it had a happy ending. I have made note of the recipe for these Date Accordians. For once taking time to write it properly in my notebook, fully labeled with a brief history as to how it came to be in our family from the cooking treasure trove of another’s.


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