And I found some wonderful things. We all have our tried-and-true recipes, and I know that I, for one, feel as if I cook the same dinners week after week. My Darlin Husband (DH) has the gout, so I am a chicken cooking fool, as beef and sometimes even pork are known to trigger an attack.
So I was looking through my recipes, and this is what I found.
These are not just recipes, y’all. They are historical documents. Beloved recipes are the ones that are hard to read, spattered and smeared. Cause that’s just how I roll.
But looking closely at this random pile I snapped a picture of, I see the recipe for Sausage Balls, which was emailed from Tiffany Chambers to Rae Charlton on December 18 of…. 1998. Tiffany is married and has four kids now, and I am no longer Rae Charlton. But still – it’s hard to beat a good sausage ball. The recipe on the lower right is my mother-in-law’s recipe for homemade lasagna (the secret is the cheese!). I made lasagna once for DH, right after we married, and upon seeing the look on his face, I learned pretty quickly that “Mama’s way is the only way” for this particular dish. And that’s a fact. Best lasagna I ever put in my mouth. Use Swiss instead of mozzerella and always make your own sauce. It’ll change your LIFE.
Above Mamoo’s lasagna is my late grandmother’s recipe for cornbread dressing, in my mother’s handwriting. You know, so many recipes are emailed or “Pinterested” or printed out these days, having a cherished family recipe in your Mama’s handwriting is like a taste of heaven right here on earth.
The recipe on the far left? That is Meg Schoonover’s recipe for the Stromboli she brought to Amy DeFew after Amy gave birth to her fourth (what the heck was SHE thinking?) child, John Silas. As I had been laid up on bed rest with Amy for this particular pregnancy, I felt entitled to a slab of stromboli. It was and is AWESOME, and it comes with good memories.
The bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin recipe in the middle is a GREAT dish to trot out when you’re having company and want to impress someone. My friend Keith gave me the recipe probably ten years ago or longer. Keith has been married a bunch of times, and he’s had several near misses. This was his go-to dish to prepare when a relationship would escalate to the “I’ll cook for you” stage. He called it “Panty-Dropping Pork Loin,” and while I’ve NEVER had this dish prepared by anyone but myself, and I have NEVER experienced that particular side effect, it’s really quite good.
Also in my recipe file is a page (top right) torn out of a magazine. I really don’t recall how long I’ve had it – years, for sure. But tucked there, in amongst the recipes and notes and grease stains, is a column written by Paula Spencer titled “Thank You For This Food.” It was a pre-Thanksgiving article, and in it Paula writes about the importance of praying before a meal and being thankful to God for our food, and being thankful for those with whom we share it. My mother in law ends the family prayer at every family gathering by hollering (yes, we are from the South, that is what we call it) “God bless the cook!” While I certainly agree that the cook should be thanked (and likely blessed as well!), this year I’m starting a new tradition, and adding on to her blessing of the cook a heartfelt “and God bless the farmers!” They certainly play a big part in the food traditions that we embrace, and I just can’t say enough how much I appreciate them.