My mom and I are chatting on Facebook as is our daily routine (what, you thought the Navy paid me to work? Psshh...). I am asking her for recipes that I have loved growing up--recipes that she got from my dad's mom who died when I was a baby.
Mom told me recently that when Virginia died, she used her weight as the oldest daughter-in-law to obtain the little box of recipes that was apparently coveted by the other wives. She said that Virginia was an amazing cook and a tireless hostess, and Mom wanted this piece of her.
That little wooden box sits in the cupboard above my mom's oven. It's filled with yellowed index cards that bear the scars of years of love and use. Their edges curl and the favorite recipes are stained in grease and chocolate and flour. Some recipes are written in Virginia's neat, spidery handwriting, using archaic words like oleo. Others are printed recipes torn from soup can labels and shoved in between the note cards. Still others have been added by my mom, written in her own soft, curling handwriting on recipe cards decorated in pink and blue.
Mom has offered to type up the recipes so I can add them to my own collection. Obviously, I am excited! But at the same time, I feel a twinge of sadness. A computer printout on stark white paper seems so sterile to me. I've just realized that the handwriting, the ancient stains, the yellowed paper were as much a part of the recipes as the eggs and the sugar.
This isn't worth feeling sad over, but maybe someday I'll use my weight as the oldest daughter to get that little box of history for myself.