The journey of cooking

This journey, like many journeys, begins in the closet.

This closet, like many closets, is filled with personal detritus. Storage, memorabilia, things forgotten, holiday decorations, crafting supplies, objects… I pick my way through the relics of my past and present. Ah ha, I think triumphantly. There we are.

Two boxes, battered and utterly unassuming in appearance. At rough visual estimate, they contain several hundred recipes collected from my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, and me. Hand-written, typed on note cards, carefully clipped from newspapers, printed out from the Internet: these are my legacy. And, of course, there are the recipes that have never been transcribed. I must find a way to document and share the oral tradition as well.

I have been trying to decide what to do with these recipes for several years. At first, I thought that I would simply copy them by hand into a large binder, but the task proved overwhelming. Later, I considered sorting them and preserving the original copies in photo albums. After all, the process of cooking is tactile, sensory, and aromatic. Some of the older note cards still hold the scent of my great-grandmother’s house. I can hold them to my face and, with eyes closed, wander the halls of her home in memory. I may still pursue the photo-album route, as time and money allow.

However, this is the twenty-first century, the “future”. While these large albums will be wonderful to hand down to my yet-unborn children, they will not be terribly practical to use in the kitchen. It is simpler for me to pull up a recipe on my Android tablet for reference than to spend time digging through the physical archive. Therefore, I feel that some form of electronic indexing would be valuable. I have tried many recipe storage programs, and been dissatisfied with all of them. I find the interfaces clunky, and the recipe scaling occasionally disastrous. Worse, to my mind, there is no feel of the recipe. No place to put a picture, or to describe a specific point of cooking. I am glad that these programs fulfill the needs of other people, but I value the emotional content of the recipes equally with their instructional value. I must find an alternate format, and this blog will provide me the freedom to do so.

My goal in this blog is to share with you my family legacy. Many of these recipes are ones that I have never tested: this will give me the opportunity to do so. I am certain that some of them will be utter duds (I am particularly dreading a cookie recipe from my grandmother titled “Christmas Rocks”). By the same token, I am sure that I will discover hidden gems in these boxes. When I am able to cite a source — for example, a recipe that my mother culled from Better Homes and Gardens — I will do so. Similarly, if I adapt or test a recipe from another site, I will include a link to the place where I originally found the recipe and cite the author if one is given. My intent is to share the joy and love of cooking, not to steal the words and efforts of others. It may take me some time to find my voice; therefore, please, bear with me during this process.

My mother taught me a concept that remains at the heart of my philosophy: food is love. Food is intimate, and personal, and something that loses its flavor when it is not shared with others. Come with me on this journey, and let there be love. Delicious, savory, smoky, cheesy, sweet sweet love. :)

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