The best recipes are those that are passed from person to person on little cards stained with peanut butter and cooking oil and loving fingerprints. Sometimes they can be found in glossy, beautifully photographed cookbooks, but more often they have been tweaked and adapted by various someones and bear only a passing resemblance to their original incarnation.
A few years ago, my grandmother-in-law moved out of her house and into an assisted living facility and I was handed her recipe boxes on the grounds that I like to cook. Those three sturdy boxes full of yellowing handwritten recipe cards and fragile newspaper clippings held the treasure of a lifetime spent cooking for a family and I poured over them with delight, trying out more than a few of them over the ensuing months and wondering at the archaeological feel of the process given how tastes have changed over the last 90 years.
A few days ago, a friend gifted me with several cookbooks from her collection, including that most marvelous of cookbook treasures: a church cookbook filled with favourite recipes collected from all across the country. This specific cookbook is a particular delight, for intermingled with recipes titled “Laura’s Pancakes” and “Sourdough Bread (A Real Treat)” you can find “A Happy Home Recipe” and “Happiness Cake” and “Recipe for a Wonderful Day.” My current favourite recipe is “Preserving Choice Children.”
Preserving Choice Children
Take 1 large grassy field, 1/2 dozen children, 2 or 3 small dogs, a pinch of brooks and some pebbles. Mix children and dogs together well and put them in the field, stirring constantly. Pour the brook over the pebbles, sprinkle the field with flowers, spread over all a deep blue sky and bake in the hot sun. When thoroughly grown, remove and set away to cool in a bathtub!
Crystal City United Church
Crystal City, Manitoba