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A perfect recipe for remembering

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”.


Raisin cookies in a plastic container
Auntie Pitt's Perfect Raisin Cookies.

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.


A handwritten recipe card for Perfect Raisin Cookies.
Alice (Grassie) Pitt's raisin cookie recipe, writing in Auntie Grace's handwriting.

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