What a luxury, today I spent all afternoon organizing my recipes. These would be the ones I tear out of the paper, various magazines and get from the Country Woman subscription Grandma gives me for my birthday. I purchased a binder, made some tabs and stapled recipes to sheets of paper. To deal with the magazine ones that took up a whole page, I simply used my punch to make three holes along one side. It would take too much time to copy them all out, and they might not be any good anyway, so this way I can rip them out and toss them if we don‘t like them.

I found some really sturdy plastic Post-It tabs that were tough enough to flip through. Now I don’t have to mess with cramming teeny pieces of paper into slots. I first used the tabs to make dividers for my recipe box several years ago. The dividers that came with the box were woefully lacking. If I wanted to find a breakfast casserole I never knew if I should look under “casserole” or “egg and cheese dishes.” Now I file it under “breakfast.” I never used the “lamb” tab, so now I have a “snack tab.” It works very well for me.

Why do I save so many recipes, when it is mathematically impossible to use them all in a single lifetime? I come by my recipe problem honestly, and from both sides of the family tree. My step-dad accused Mom of having too many recipe books and claimed that she had never used some of them. That was a mistake, because she is now working her way through them making a meal from each one to prove him wrong. She said he’ll be surprised some day because she has a book of just cookie recipes.

My father’s mother, the one who blesses me with Country Woman, has an archive of stuff she’s clipped out of the paper for over 70 years. It must rival the Library of Congress’s recipe collection. I need to remember to ask for a tour next time I am home, or she will surely think nobody will want to deal with it when she is gone, and she will toss the whole collection. God forbid! My dad gave my great grandmother’s original Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I use it occasionally. It has her notes in it, and she was quite a cook. On my wish list is a Fanny Farmer cookbook. I think that was one of the first cookbooks widely published.

I heard an essay on National Public Radio by a woman who made every dish in her Julia Child cookbook over the course of a year. She must not live in Grand Island. Even though I shop in a town of over 40,000, I am unable to find “exotic” ingredients such as bean sprouts in my regular store. I do have the option of several stores, but hunting through ethnic Mom and Pop groceries, or unfamiliar supermarket floor plans for obscure ingredients with three pre-schoolers is not my idea of fun, especially since none of the other stores have carryout. Recipes with ingredients such as prosciutto and gruyere strike fear in my heart because I know I will never find the right stuff. I know that ham or Swiss cheese would work, but surely these others are better, or the recipe would call for ham and Swiss cheese. I long to get my hands on some fresh mozzarella. Until then, I will just hang on to my recipes and wait 50 years until I can bequeath my recipe collection to an unsuspecting grandchild.

 

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