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The Legacy Of Recipe Cards

Old fashioned, handwritten recipe cards can give us memories that go beyond flour, sugar and instructions.

For my wedding shower, over 25 years ago, my mom did something unique. When she mailed out the invitations, she included a blank recipe card. The idea was for each girl to come to the shower and, in addition to bringing a gift, she would bring a favorite recipe written down on the card.

Even the color of these cards gives us a glimpse into that period in life. They’re mauve and country blue, which was the popular color of the day.

At the time, I thought it was a sweet idea, but I didn’t realize how well it would age. Several of the girls have passed away already, living only into their 50’s. At the time of my shower I thought I would know and have these friends in my life forever. But if death hadn’t taken some of them, time, distance and circumstances would have separated us. Of all the recipe cards I received, I only keep in touch regularly with one girl.

But that’s just the beauty of these cards. Even though I don’t or can’t see them, I have a favorite recipe of theirs, in their own handwriting, as a precious reminder of my time with them so long ago.

But it’s not just these shower cards that are so special. My Aunt mailed me a couple of recipes shortly after a visit to her home (pictured below). For years I heard that when she made pies she always made rugelach out of the leftover crusts. She enclosed a recipe for that, as well as a handwritten one for her wonderful sugar cookies when she mailed me a sweet card. It’s something that I cherish to this day.

I love how she addressed me as “Mrs. Barbara Finnical,” customary of her generation.
Two more recipe cards from my collection that take me back to special places and times in my life.

Handwritten recipe cards not only help us remember people, but moments. Above are examples of that. One is from a neighbor when we had a get-together years ago. Her peach dessert was so good that I asked her for the recipe. Little did I realize at the time that each time I looked at this it would take me back to that summer all those years ago when we enjoyed the company of her and her family. And the recipe for the Cheese Pie is from a time when our kids were in elementary school and we participated in a small group Bible study at the home of a wonderful couple. The person who wrote it didn’t put her name on it, and I can’t remember it now, but I do remember those wonderful times of fellowship together.

Lastly, this one is one of the few samples of my mother-in-law’s handwriting that I have. I thought she would be with us for so much longer.

In the internet age it’s easy to forget about the humble recipe card or a handwritten note with a recipe tucked inside a paper envelope. But there’s something irreplaceable about writing a favorite recipe down on a card and giving it to someone. Like me, it may not mean a lot to them at the time, but it’s quite likely that it will in the future.

You just can’t get that online.

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