For those of you who have been following my last few blogs you will recognize the theme of "getting rid of stuff". My family was here for Thanksgiving weekend and my oldest daughter, the list-maker, labeller, super-organized one suggested that my next purge should be my cookbooks. My initial reaction was one of shock. But really, as I looked at the collection through her eyes there did seem to be an abundance of them. So, this past week I started going through them and culling the ones that had no dirty pages, the ones I had bought with the best of intentions but had never actually opened up, never pressed open on the kitchen counter and splattered with the ingredients of those special recipes that had caught my eye in the first place but had never materialized.
It really wasn't that hard to get rid of those ones because there were no memories attached to large family events around a table full of food from their pages. I loaded them into a few boxes and bags and set them in the laundry room to take to the thrift store. Another of my daughters was home the next day and I offered her the chance to look through them before I tossed them. She politely declined stating, "Really mom, if I need a recipe I just go online." I thought for a minute and was actually surprised to realize that many of the recipes I am currently using have come from the same place. As carefully as I might look, I'm pretty sure there are no quinoa recipes in my Gramma Dot's copy of the original Five Roses Flour cookbook. In some ways this makes me sad. In the back of my Gramma Dot's cookbooks are all of her favourite recipes and the notes that go with them. They are all written in her no-nonsense, firm hand-writing. There is always, always a picture of Gramma Dot in my head when I am using one of her cookbooks. It makes me think of her, not always fondly, but mostly. She was a hard task-master when she supervised: wash your hands, measure correctly, follow the steps, clean as you go, don't sass me. My children will tell you that she didn't soften with age.
I know my own cookbooks would reveal my own favourite recipes in a snap. Some of the pages are spotless. Those would be the ones I never used. Then there are the others. The pages are worn, covered in ingredients, have their own notes (I used one tonight that had the word, YUMMY, written at the top) and I'm sure if my own children inherited them, those particular recipes would also conjure up pictures of me in the kitchen. I know that in my lifetime those cookbooks full of recipes and stories and memories will continue to be an important part of my kitchen.
I can't dispute the move to technology in my own life though. My i-pad is a staple in the kitchen. I often read books on it and had it by my side as I followed You-Tube instructions for the diaper tricycle we made this week and for a sewing project earlier this month. Still it makes me sad that one day my own cookbooks, along with Gramma Dot's may not find a place in the home of my children. I will just hope, that like Gramma Dot's old school bell that sits on our bookcase, they may get a spot simply for the sake of the memories.