Recipes pile up in my books

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 16, 2010

I lifted a battered cookbook from a shelf in the kitchen and flipped through it. Unlike most people who use cookbooks, I wasn’t hunting a certain page. Instead, I started searching through all those papers crammed in the cookbook.

Ah, there it was; the recipe I wanted, scribbled on the back of an envelope. “One of these days,” I told myself, “I’ve got to transfer these recipes to cards or I won’t be able to read them.”

When I replaced the cookbook on the shelf, I noticed that it looked more like a file folder than a cookbook. Cream cheese icing, easy fruit cobbler and meringue cookie recipes were taped to the inside cover. Two more recipes were written on the first page: quick egg custard and instructions for using all-purpose flour when a recipe calls for self-rising flour.

One torn from a newspaper and another from a box of coconut were also taped to that page. The other side of the page was even worse. At the very top was a strip of cardboard with a printed recipe for chocolate frosting. Glued neatly under that was a pie crust recipe. I lifted it and found a recipe for coconut cake and filling and one for peach pound cake on newspaper clippings, plus a folded piece of paper with a handwritten recipe for cream cheese pound cake.

That recipe I’d been searching for, lime congealed salad, stuck out between the first page back and the second page. I had to laugh. My mother and I had shared that cookbook after she came to live with us. She had taped all those recipes to the inside cover and the first page and written the recipes on that first page. She had also written the page number for our favorite beet recipe on it. At least she had secured them. I noticed that I had paper-clipped a card with her pecan pie recipe on the second page over two more recipes she cut from a newspaper.

A typewritten sheet with two recipes completely filled the inside of the back cover. One was for fudge, another for chocolate covered cherry candy. Mother often dated things. She had transferred these recipes that she scribbled on an Andalusia Star-News wrapper addressed to my parents in Graysville, Ala., dated May 1, 1973. I found one other recipe she wrote in the cookbook. It was for walnut mocha cake. It was on a page labeled additional recipes.

The rest of the book was jammed with more loose recipes, like on old envelopes and paper scraps. Among them were copies of my sister-in-law’s grand prize winning Southern Living 2001 Holiday Recipe Contest (for chicken pie) and some favorite microwave recipes from a class I attended.

While I had the cookbook in hand, I tossed some of the loose recipes I knew I’d never use. Maybe I will get around to organizing the rest in 2010.