Bright ideas

The perfect recipe

If you've been reading this blog with any regularity this year, you know that right about every two weeks I post a picture that corresponds with a letter in the alphabet and that I often gush about how much I have enjoyed, am enjoying, will continue to enjoy -- and it's getting near the time when I'll likely start to pine about how much I will miss and how I will cope without -- participating in the ABC-Along -- and the genius of its mastermind, Anne.  I have enjoyed the posts of others quite a lot, too; they are often very thoughtful, personal, whimsical, heartfelt (or -wrenching), delightful.  Celia and Carole seem to regularly strike a chord with their posts -- Celia with her beautiful children, her family and friends, her nose, and the occasional yodel; Carole with the embroidery, the ocean, quilts, and... well, yesterday, she took the cake -- and had the recipe for it, too.

There was instant recognition yesterday, the second Carole's "R" post came up on my screen -- I knew what she had, how it looked, how it felt, how it smelled -- and the tears sprung to my eyes.  They still do when I think of it.  Oh, what treasure she has, such irreplaceable treasure for herself and to share with Hannah.  I asked my grandma years ago if she could find recipes written in her hand, my great grandmothers' hands -- even my great great grandmother's -- so I could see them, copy them, hold them, hug them, have them... even for a moment.  She was very vague in her reply and never did come up with anything and I wonder, now, if perhaps one or more of those women were illiterate and there was nothing to be had.  Whenever Grandma asked, and she always did those last few years at home, what we "wanted," I'd always tell her the box of pictures, the recipes.  My uncle has the pictures, an aunt has the recipes.  I did find a couple of stray recipe cards in drawers when I helped clean out the house and I kept them.  I love how the ink is blurred where the butter or Crisco -- or, more likely, lard -- left its mark; how soft and fuzzy they are, like the flour will never, ever be brushed completely away.

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I kept a few other things that I came across that weekend.  Mine was the bittersweet task of cleaning out the drawers of the built-in buffet in the dining room.  Nearly every drawer could have been described as a junk drawer, but everyone knows that one woman's junk is another woman's treasure.

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There was some fancy handwork -- a large embroidered and pulled-thread doily, a lace runner -- mostly in need of repair.  Tiny crocheted baskets -- one larger one with five smaller ones tucked inside.  These are such a curiosity to me, mainly because my grandma had six children, and the smaller baskets might hold a dozen jelly beans each -- on a good day.  I realized this morning that my youngest uncle is far younger than the rest -- he was only 10 when I was born -- so it is quite possible that these were made for a family once thought complete.

Thank you, Carole, for such a beautiful post.  I am so happy for you -- that you have those recipes and a little piece of your mom to treasure forever.

* * * * *

Random Thing #1:  I have not re-started any of the knitting I frogged.  I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to start something else.  My mom inquired about her shrug -- that would be "Shirley Shrugs," supposed to be her Christmas present last year.  I think that's weighing on my knit-psyche and thwarting attempts at anything new.  I think I'm going to have to pay attention and resume/finish knitting the shrug.

Random Thing #2:  I had occasion to see a Roberta Electronic Spinning Wheel yesterday.  Ashford makes one, too, and probably others.  I never knew that such a thing existed.  I was completely blown away at the price... and the fact that it can be had with dual power.  Not that I'd ever want such a thing, but blown away nonetheless.

Random Thing #3:  While at Yellow Dog Knitting on Sunday, I noticed an announcement on the bulletin board for an exhibition at the Design Gallery, School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison -- details here (scroll down a bit).  New School Knitting: The Influence of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Schoolhouse Press, October 27 to December 17, opening reception on October 29th.  It sounds so interesting!

Random Thing #4:  My youngest daughter has a job, Saturday mornings only, at this point, cleaning... at a coffee shop.  She is not a barista, but I can see the writing on the wall... it is only a matter of time.  I ask you, what are the chances that all three of my daughters would be doing this type of work???  None of them really even like coffee, unless you consider cappuccino to be coffee (I don't).

Have a great day (the sun is shining here!).



That's right. Rub it in that you have sun. ;-)


I was lucky enough that my grandma took me and my sisters into her kitchen and taught us how to make some of her special recipies... I know exactly how you feel about the recipe cards.


Oh Vicki. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. The connection we made over this is just another thread to bring us together. It's wonderful to have a friend that "gets" it.


Oh I love those little baskets! How precious..


Treasures passed down to the women of the family are always something special. It's wonderful that you cherish them as so few people do today.


Those recipies sure do tug at ones heartstrings... I sure would've liked to have had my grandma's recipies and her cast iron fry pan. Too bad my aunts didn't see their value and threw it all away. I do have her bridal dress & veil, not properly cared for ever it is practically crumbling in the box, and the wax flowers from the veil are practically ruined, but I have it.


I was a barista when I was 16. It was a fun job, but it led to me drinking far too much espresso.

Dixie Grilley, Yellow Dog

I collect any old handwriten recipe cards, my favorite is for a recipe that had nuts in it and the note on the side said "If Uncle Bill is coming leave out the nuts, he doesn't like them" (I would have to leave out my entire family tee hee)


Oh, Vicki - what wistfulness and memories your post evoked! My grandmother had a collection of demitasse china teacups - all different, collected on walking excursions in the French Quarter here in New Orleans. As a child, I played (carefully!) with them, and as an adult I asked her: "Maman, a hundred years from now, when you go to heaven, I don't want your money - I just want your demitasse, so I can remember the good times I spent with you. Please make a note of that somewhere!" She showed up on my doorstep a week later with the entire collection lovingly boxed up. She said she hadn't looked at them in years, and that she knew they would bring me joy, whereas they were only bringing her dust. ;-) I don't have her any more - she went to heaven ahead of schedule - but her demitasse does indeed bring me joy, and fond memories.


While I don't have my grandmother's recipe box -- I am not sure who got that but with only my mother and sister I imagine one of them has it if she had held on to it -- I do have composition books with every dinner party menu she ever threw -- from kids birthdays to the neighbors over for dinner to my grandfather's coleagues (he was a high muckedy muck in the FDA). It is a little piece of her and it is fascinating to realize how trendy food is and how the trends change.


I feel exactly the same way about the ABC-along . . . I'm already starting to miss it, and we've got three months to go!

And I know exactly what you mean about the recipes . . . I so wish I had a copy of my grandmother's pound cake recipe . . . but I DO, at least, have the all-important, family-favorite, yellow layer cake with Grandma's chocolate frosting recipe. Life would NOT be the same without it!


you really struck a chord with this one Vicki. I have often thought of framing the recipe cards I have .....


Oh those wee little baskets!!! To die for. I might have to try and copy one from the pics.
I know I have crochet hooks that small...somewhere!

And I think that working as a barista is today's teen/young adult equivalent of working at a fast-food place. My 22 y/o stepson is a non-coffee drinking barista as well.


Love all the photos of the handwork... those little bits of our ancestors sure add up to a strong connection. I was so there about the recipes too; lucky to have a few tucked away in my own recipe box.


Lovely little baskets. I absolutely love my china--destined to be mine anyway--that was my grandmas. Sure it isn't especially glamorous or beautiful--but I love it!!


Those baskets are amazing and lovely - hard to imagine making something so tiny!

That Elizabeth Zimmermann event sounds really cool - I hope you attend and take lots of pictures for us. :)

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