COUSIN KAROLYN, ONE OF THE guardians of our family's female past, has an old, wide-ruled school exercise book that is held together by black tape. On the cover is written simply “Old Recipes”.
Karolyn’s mother, my Great-Auntie Grace, transcribed in her vintage handwriting the precious recipes of her life that included: her Mother’s Pumpkin Pie, her sister Margaret’s Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, Mrs. Codnille’s pastry, and Mar Evan’s Tutti Frutti.
Reading each recipe title is a memory stamped in dough: mix, roll, bake and remember laughter and cake shared over tea, a plate full of cookies at the church bazaar, a festive Christmas table adorned with homemade pie. Decades have passed, but each recipe is forever connected with the woman who shared it.
As I stumble across the images on my computer, I am tugged towards the homemade past, my female ancestors and their friends, who shared joy, tears and sisterhood through food.
And so, in spite of pending deadlines, I drag out the flour canister, brown sugar, raisins and butter. I stir in chopped nuts, drop the dough by teaspoonful and bake in a “moderate oven”. My effort to recreate great-great Auntie Pitt’s Perfect Raisin Cookies is a Perfect Recipe for Remembering.