I love how cookbooks, unlike other books, get written in. It somehow always felt a little naughty to use even a highlighter in my college textbooks, as I’d always been taught to take care of my possessions and definitely not mark up my books. But cookbooks are a different story. They are only enhanced and made richer by the notations in the sidelines. The more you write in them, the more you end up sharing part of your family history. What we eat together as a family contains so many memories of laughter and love with some sadness and heartache too. What a beautiful thing to have our eating histories chronicled in the haphazard way they were created and now remembered in the yellowed pages of well-used cookbooks.
Reading old cookbooks, especially the ones that were my grandmother’s, is a way for me to feel connected to her even though she’s no longer here to make the dishes herself. As I linger over the pages in her books or the handwritten cards in her recipe boxes, I have the same feeling that I get when I’m looking at family pictures. That happy-sad-misty-eyed-big-sigh quiet comes over me and I’m back in her kitchen as a little girl helping her can tomatoes or jam or smelling the pot roast she’s making for dinner.
I hope that the time my girls spend with me or my mom in the kitchen forms the same sort of rich memories and stories to draw from when they reach adulthood. It seems one of the loveliest gifts that I could give them (and they to me).
This photo is of my cookbook, At Home, At Sea, five years old and still alive, stains, notes, stories and all.
Spending time with my grandma and mom through their recipes