Family recipes and family history

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By Erika Weisensee,
Milwaukie writing mom

Tucked inside our cookbooks and recipe boxes, maybe even stuffed in drawers or boxes, are precious pieces of our family history. The recipes of our mothers and grandmothers, of our aunts and other loved ones, provide much more than delicious homemade food. Old recipes tell us a bit about how people lived, ate and celebrated. We may not have known the generations that came before us.  Yet, when cooking their food, we connect to our roots in a unique way.

If you have the opportunity to look through old recipes that belong to your family, I highly recommend it.  Recently, I took the time to browse through my grandmother’s meticulously organized recipe box, which is now in my mother’s safekeeping. I found a few treasures, like her sugar cookie recipe and a “gum drop cake” recipe made by her mother, my great-grandmother. I saw dozens of others recipes for things I will never try to repeat, but looking at them was pure entertainment.

Here are some ideas for preserving and sharing your family recipes:

–  Ask members of your family (sisters and cousins for instance) to share favorite recipes they’ve inherited from family members.

– Make a book of those recipes and share them with your family.  A family recipe book would be a meaningful gift for numerous occasions, including bridal showers.

– Keep old recipes in a special place. You may want to put them in a good quality photo album or scrapbook with plastic sleeves that cover the original documents. Make photocopies of recipes and keep them in a separate location.

### Erika is a writing mom. She lives in Milwaukie and teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland.