Last week my mom and I went down to my grandma’s house to go through some of her things. We went through many boxes and looked through so many things. Often the things that are valuable when someone’s gone aren’t tangible and often are not worth anything to anyone else, but they’re priceless to the family.

I’ve been wanting to collect some of the family heirloom recipes for quite a while to make a special cookbook. While we were visiting my uncle & cousin, I spent some time looking through my grandma’s recipe boxes. They were small metal boxes stuffed full of index cards and clippings from the newspaper and magazines. I was able to get some photos of some of my grandma’s favorite recipes, some of them in her writing. My cousin also had my great grandmother’s recipes book, which was a collection of recipes in an old railroad ledger book.

Throughout the rest of the year I’m going to collecting more of these family recipes. I’ll make the recipes and take photos of the finished products. I’ll try to find some photos of my grandma cooking or of her kitchen the way it used to be. For Christmas I’ll make a nice printed cookbook at Lulu and give it to family members. What a lovely reminder of what is really important; things that can’t be bought or sold. Most often the simplest things in life mean the most to us.

I can’t wait to try my great grandma’s tomato butter (which was most likely their version of ketchup) and my grandma’s pickle recipe.

Do you have any family heirloom recipes? What are you doing to preserve them?

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31 Responses to Heirloom Recipes

  1. what a family treasure especially if you can locate some pictures of your grandma cooking. I made Christmas puddings last year using a recipe from my husbands nan (she died 10 years ago). She kept her recipe a secret and everyone thought it had died with her. Until last year when I remembered she’d given it to my brother for inclusion in a folder of recipes from family and friends presented to us on our wedding day.
    It was a lovely surprise for my father-in-law when I presented him with a pudding on Christmas Day. I don’t know what it tasted like though as he insisted on keeping it for next year because that’s what his mum had always done! So only 9 more months until I get to try it (fingers crossed the cup of brandy does the job with preserving it)
    .-= nic @ nip it in the bud´s last blog ..the ‘Ministry of Food’ exhibition part 3: thrifty wartime ways to feed your family =-.

  2. pam says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I have it on my list of things to do. My husband’s mother died before I met him, and I would love to gather up all of her recipes and give them to his sister.

  3. Julia says:

    That’s wonderful! You will have a great memento! I remember my aunties did something like that… alas, the recipes they had didn’t adapt well to modern availability of ingredients and cooking equipment –though, it may have been their ability to adapt 😉
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Super Fresh =-.

  4. Mrs. Mac says:

    When my husbands grandmother (lived to 102) died in 2001, I couldn’t believe someone set out her recipe box at the garage sale … so I asked to have it. A few years later the family had a big reunion and I presented copies of all the recipes to a cousin that made a family recipe collection in book and cd form. I love reading old recipe cards in handwriting with little splotches of something spilled on them. I’m afraid, in our computer age, that a lot of info will be lost once we die unless we take time to print out hard copies to leave behind.
    .-= Mrs. Mac´s last blog ..Yard Clean-Up Day =-.

  5. Kelly says:

    I have a few recipes of my Gram’s, and an old local publication of the Women’s Society that has my Grandmother’s pickle recipe in it. Years ago my Aunt collected and printed up recipes and gave them to all the younger generation in a photo album as a Christmas present. I love that book.

    I’ve worried, before, about the computer age and how we lose something that’s valued, in part, by it’s tangibility. I cook a lot, and get much of my recipes from online. Their testing phase is marked by first getting a txt file on the computer, then printed out and test cooked at least twice. If they “make the cut” to become one of our regular items, they get a recipe card and are filed in either the constant rotation/easiest access cards (in a magnetic box stuck to the fridge) or the longer term/less frequent cards in a recipe card box on the counter.

    I have plans, in the back of my mind, to make copies of the favourites when my boys move out on their own. Among them will be recipes of people they’ve never met (relatives that have passed). Even though they’ve never met them, they’ll still get to enjoy a piece of them through the recipes.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Garden Update 2.8 =-.

    • Susy says:

      I keep thinking about making a personal cookbook of all of my recipes that I have tucked away that I make so often. So many of them are in my head. It’s good that people ask me for the recipe because it forces me to write them down.

      I do have a small cookbook that you write recipes in, and I have it filled with a few family favorites I’ve copied in there.

  6. […] 24, 2010 by chiotsrun Last night I was writing my blog post for my blog and trying to decide what to write about today that would fit in with the Real Food Challenge. Then […]

  7. Tree says:

    So wonderful
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..Weekend Washout and Wipe Out =-.

  8. What a great idea. I visit my grandma every Sunday, this next time I will ask her if she has any recipes written down that she used over the years. I know she has made Kuchen many times in her life, I want to go make that with her this spring, she is 95 so there won’t be many more chances to record how she does it.
    .-= Sense of Home´s last blog ..When to Buy Organic =-.

    • Susy says:

      Yes, I wish I had done this back when she was still around so I could have taken some photos of her making a few of these recipes.

  9. Michelle says:

    These are absolute treasures! And I can’t wait to see the book you create…it will be so special. My grandmother passed away a year ago…and do you know she didn’t write down her recipes? She kept them all in her head! Luckily I was able to learn a few of them in her last years…we spent quite a bit of time together as I helped her a few days a week. So she coached me in a few of the family favorites…good food and good memories. Thank you for posting this…it reminded me of sweet memories. I’ve been missing my “Noni” a lot lately…
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..waiting. =-.

  10. Morgan G says:

    Oh, Susy. Seeing that handwriting…it’s amazing how stirring that can be – even to a stranger. My granny and I still swap recipes and seeds; I am very lucky to share common interests with her.

    For me, it’s people’s voices that I find I miss so much after they are gone. For my mom’s birthday this year, I recorded an “interview” between my granny and I. I asked her questions about my mom as a kid, about my grandfather who passed before I was born, about when my parents first started dating… That recording is so, so precious to me and my mom, even though granny is still around. I used the Mac program GarageBand to do it – so easy. I highly recommend others do the same.
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..Guest Bloggin’: Operation Who You Callin’ a Lady? =-.

    • Susy says:

      Very true, that’s a great idea! It would be wonderful to get a recording of grandma explaining how to make a specific recipe, or telling stories from their childhood.

  11. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for a wonderful reminder about those precious little things in life. I must say, I’m very excited to have found your blog (through a link on the SGF website). I am also in NE Ohio (Lake Milton) and was just thinking how nice it would be to know another SFGer in the area. Last year was my first year and my garden is very small – as is the amount of time I have to invest in learning about “the best ways” for our area. It’ll be nice to share your joys, challenges, and successes along the way. (PS – I tried to send you a message but the “contact me” button lead to a blank page).
    .-= Bonnie´s last blog ..Ginger Ale =-.

    • Susy says:

      Great to meet a fellow Ohio gardener. I know where lake Milton is, Mr Chiots is from Youngstown so he used to fish & water ski on Lake Milton.

  12. melissa says:

    I think you owe it to yourself as well as all of us to make those rolls and let us know how they turn out. Yuuum.
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..like you imagined when you were young =-.

    • Susy says:

      They were always SOOOOO good when grandma made them. I have a similar recipe that’s “my famous rolls”. I’ll have to give hers a try.

  13. Will says:

    I too have a big box of old recipes. They came to me since I’m the only living member of the family that ventures beyond frozen pizza and boxed Mac and Cheese and I’m happy to have them. My mothers small family was filled with fantastic cooks! Some of the recipes will simply state ‘start with a good side of beef’.
    Before my Grandmother passed away I spent a few days in the kitchen with her. We made some big meals all for the sake of the recipes. Many of the best ones were all memory, and no paper. I would suggest that anyone with the opportunity take some time and collect the special recipes from the source.
    Just be prepared, once you have them the family will expect you to make them 😉
    Thanks for this post, and for reminding us to take note of what might otherwise be lost!

    -Will

  14. Pampered Mom says:

    I love how food has the power to bring to mind so many different people and places. I imagine the cookbook will be a well received gift.
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Another Year for This One =-.

  15. Jan says:

    We are currently typing my late mother -in-law’s recipes into a cookbook website. Other family members can add to it and then order a printed cookbook. There is a lot of lard involved.

  16. Carol says:

    My favorite is in my head – my grandma’s homemade egg noodles. Here it is:

    2 eggs
    2 half shells of milk
    as much flour as you need

    Is that a great recipe or what?
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..Such a Reader =-.

  17. MAYBELLINE says:

    My Scottish grannies beetroot chutney in her handwriting has been scanned. My mother has her grandmothers “house book” with recipes not only for food but for cleaners and housekeeping tips. She wrote this in pencil.

    Any suggestions for preservation?
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Citrus Blight? =-.

  18. Sarah says:

    Hi there – just found your blog and had to comment –
    This is such a good idea. My family doesn’t have too many of these, but my partner’s father (who used to be a baker) passed away recently and somehow snuck a diary full of his bakery’s prize (secret) recipes into a box of baseball cards for his sons to inherit. It is such a treasure!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Spirits rising up from out of the ground =-.

  19. Robbyn says:

    I tried your family roll recipe shown in the picture, and my husband keeps asking me to make more. Thanks so much for sharing! They are simply delicious 🙂
    .-= Robbyn´s last blog ..The State of the Refrigerator and other bulletpoints of the week =-.

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