Recipes conjure images of food, fellowship

Published 12:53 am Saturday, November 29, 2014

Is this a recipe book or a portable filing cabinet, I asked myself as I slipped a bulky yellow book from a kitchen shelf. It was a cookbook, published years ago, with favorite recipes by members and friends of Lillian United Methodist Church. I found numerous loose recipes stuffed between the pages and glued to the inside covers. I did not realize that opening the book would take me on a walk to the past.

This cookbook actually belonged to my mother. Since she brought her copy when she came to live with us in the Lillian parsonage, I gave mine to her former neighbor in Florida. As the years passed, both of us kept adding new recipes and others we had accumulated over the years. Many were scribbled on little scraps of paper. I even found some I scratched on the backs of envelopes. Others were newspaper and magazine clippings. I also came across the worn original sheets of recipes I received at a microwave cooking class soon after I bought my first microwave oven. I used the back of those sheets to add tips from the teacher on microwave cooking.

I searched the recipe book, hoping to locate my mother’s pimento cheese recipe. I remembered watching her make some one day. I thought she used evaporated milk in it. Not a one of the pimento cheese recipes I pulled up on the Internet mentioned milk as an ingredient. Every person I asked said he/she had never heard of using milk in pimento cheese spread. I was hoping if that recipe existed, it was buried somewhere in the Lillian cookbook. It was not. Maybe I just dreamed it.

While my search for the pimento cheese recipe was unsuccessful, I still had a good time turning cookbook pages. I could not help smiling when I saw some of those “added” recipes. Mother had torn out a recipe for coconut frosting from a box or can of Baker’s sweetened coconut and taped it to a page. I found a Hershey’s Cocoa label with a recipe for chocolate frosting mounted the same way. Sprinkled throughout the book were newspaper recipe clippings from Hints from Heloise. Nestled near the halfway point was a printout of a Chicken Pot Pie recipe by the Southern Living 2001 Holiday Recipe Contest Grand Prize winner, my sister-in-law Mary Cale. Mother had glued a Mary Ball Fudge recipe to the inside back cover. She noted that it came from one of the Mary Ball Candy Stores in Birmingham. She always had a batch of it waiting on us when my family arrived to spend Christmas with her and Daddy.

When I finally plowed through the pile of additions and got down to the names of the contributors of the printed recipes, I was touched. So many of those dear men and women, like my husband, are gone now, but their names brought back memories of delicious covered dish dinners and wonderful Christian fellowship.