Mother likely never used these recipes

Published 2:13 am Saturday, November 14, 2015

I have been moving a pretty, white ceramic recipe box with green lettering around in my kitchen for years. My mother started working with ceramics after my daddy died. When she was in her early 80s, she brought it and some of her other ceramics when she came to live with my husband and me. As long as that recipe box has been on display in my kitchen, I have never used any of the recipes. We searched it once in vain, hunting the recipe for a delicious uncooked fruitcake she always made for the holidays.

After I cleaned off the shelf where it was sitting recently, I took the top off to see what Mother had stored (maybe crammed is a better word) inside. Even more interesting than the recipes the box contains are the kind of papers they are recorded on. The first thing I pulled out was a torn piece of paper that was part of a recipe for a broccoli dish. Under the biscuits and breads category, she had tucked in a canned biscuit company card with a recipe for a Quick Caramel Coffee Ring. It did not ring a bell with me at all. I doubt she ever used it.

I knew right away that she had clipped the next two recipes from The Andalusia Star-News. On the back of a Sunshine Muffins recipe, I found a list of names of some people I knew who had attended some function. On the back of the other recipe, which was for Refrigerator Rolls, was an advertisement with a logo from a local grocery. I do not have a clue how old the clippings were, but they were tattered and turning yellow.

I was curious when I found a recipe in unfamiliar handwriting. The one in question on a pink index card was labeled “Fig and Strawberry Jell”. Another yellowing, frayed clipping surfaced. It was for “Sort-of-Homemade Beet Borscht.” Borscht, which I looked up, is a Ukrainian beet soup. I had an idea Mother never used that one either.

One of the cards in the middle of the box looked like a grocery list in Mother’s neat handwriting: water chestnuts, mushroom soup, salt, marshmallow crème, Lime Jell-O, tuna, Snowdrift (shortening), and vanilla pudding mix.

Written on the back of an old folded bank deposit slip was a recipe for a frozen punch. I discovered my favorite sauce recipe for broccoli or cauliflower on a notepad sheet in my handwriting. Mother had scribbled her Caramel Icing recipe on a page from an address book. Directions for a creamy deluxe frosting were torn from the can it came in. The last entry in Mother’s hand was for an egg custard. She wrote it on a sheet from a shorthand pad—probably from one I used in my high school shorthand class.

I will be turning to that recipe box often now—occasionally for a recipe I like, but mostly for entertainment and an amusing reminder of my mother.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.