“The front cover, tattered and torn, still shows the original writer’s faded signature,” writes Alice Duckett of her beloved family cookbook pictured above. “Kate Hammond Gilreath, Grassdale Road, Cartersville, GA, 1940.”
The collection of recipes — compiled just before World War II by Alice’s grandmother, “Ma-Ma Kate” — became staples of family dinners and special occasions over the years.
Because of her interest in family history, the cookbook was eventually passed down to Alice.
“Looking through I find Ma-Ma’s recipes for tomato aspic, which as a child I hated, but today find the flavors intriguing,” Alice recalls. “She said, ‘You can’t have a ladies luncheon without tomato aspic!’
“There’s also my grandfather’s recipe for homemade sausage he made every fall after the hogs were slaughtered, and my grandmother’s delicious baked ham recipe and her famous biscuits made fresh every morning.”
More than 60 years old, the cookbook is held together today with a large rubber band. “Inside the yellowed pages I discover names of my grandmother’s friends who swapped recipes with her,” says Alice. “I recognize names from my childhood … and waves of nostalgia flow over me as I remember these ladies as shadows of the past.”
With so many memories attached, Alice says she is grateful to be the guardian of “this treasured family collection” — for now.
“I’ve shared some of the recipes with my sisters and plan to safeguard the book for future generations to come.”
“For over 20 years, I have thumbed through newspapers, magazines and electronic sources to search for the perfect recipes,” writes Melissa.
But it’s when she’s not even looking that she finds herself having to stop and “break out the scissors,” she says. “I have to carefully tear with the skills of a surgeon so I may not lose a single word.”
None of the recipes in the floral three-ring binder are attached, although “every one of them could be neatly organized and alphabetized,” Melissa admits.
“Maybe it’s the excitement of finding a new recipe that gets me so scatter-brained; I just cut and toss it in to try next.”
Over the years, some of those recipes have become family favorites, but only after receiving the “Husband Seal of Approval.”
Melissa believes her “secret recipe stash” housed in the “plastic, orange, hideous binder” has helped instill in her three grown sons a passion for cooking.
“So even though cleanliness is next to godliness, I feel that … messiness is no matter when it comes to a good meal.”
Sheila Johnson received her best-loved cookbook 40 years ago as a wedding gift.
“I have fed my husband, children and grandchildren many of these treasured recipes,” she writes. “A lot of love goes into cooking: selecting the freshest ingredients, stirring so it will not stick, burn or get too thick, and serving it at the perfect temperature on the perfect dishes.”
Sheila loves to find new recipes that will become family favorites and spends hours scouring cookbooks for new recipes to try. “It is a wonderfully tasty hobby,” she says.
Donna Courtney, submitted by Gerald Courtney
Donna Courtney has used this cookbook as far back as her son, Gerald, can remember “to show me and my dad how much she loves us,” Gerald writes.
In fact, it has been so well-loved, “the entire book has fallen apart,” he says. But that wasn’t enough to get Donna to retire her beloved cookbook. She just keeps taping it back together and pays no mind to all the spills and stains.
As Gerald explained: “My mom said, ‘I do my best cooking on food-stained pages from my old cookbook.’”