A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook


Black Recipe Box

For the weekend coffee share this week I thought I would share a picture of our magic black box and my long standing project.

Ten plus years since her passing and she is affectionately known as Grannie. Not the box, the lady who gifted this to us.  Often spoken about as we go about our lives.  We wonder what she would think of us now, and how she would have enriched our lives if she were still here.    My wife’s mother and the first of our parents to go.   Sorely missed for many spoken reasons and many unspoken.  A bond between mother and daughter that had it’s moments.  Mostly though something that was rich and full of love.  A piece of music or a mother daughter scene in a film will take my wife right back to the sorrow and longing of hoping for another conversation or a moment together. 

I’m not sure she saw herself as a cook, but in my eyes definitely so.  Coming from a humble background with a missionary for a father who took his family and his teachings to China.  Circumstance and timing led to the family being interned as prisoners of war.  My thinking is that from these beginnings my mother in-law grew to appreciate simple food and simple cooking as a way of life. 

She left us a black box, full of recipes, index cards that had grown over time.  Not sure many go back past the 80’s, and some might not even have been used at all.  Just a recipe passed on from a friend at the church, these are the ones in the hand writing my wife doesn’t recognise.  The scrawl of Grannie very distinct on hers and at times very un-readable!  Some of the cards have my wife’s writing on, a period of her life when calligraphy was the rage.  These are the ones that bring her memories back as a child and has also made with our boys.

My hope when we first received the box was that it would hold the secrets to an alchemy that had been passed on from generation to generation.  That the hidden texts would be revealed to the person who believed in the sacred box, only the worthy would truly become a great cook.

Having now scanned the great works using my printer I plan to work through them.   Deciphering the sacred text without a Rosetta stone, typing them up, tweaking as I go, modernising the measurements and the ingredients.  An interpretation for the way we cook and food shop as a family now.

…..it’s a work in progress, with more to follow

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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  1. Thistles and Kiwis

    How lovely to have such a treasure to work through!

    • akeerie

      There always seems other nicer recipes to do, but I’m determined now!

  2. Gary A Wilson

    Aw – Alex, this sounds like so much family memory mining fun. I bet you do find some gems and interesting lines that require some creative extrapolations.
    Good hunting.

    • akeerie

      Thanks Gary, it is about the hunt and the alchemy generated by sharing the food.

  3. rawsonjl

    What a fun project! I did something similar for my mother combining old family recipes and made sure to keep a copy of some my favorites for myself.

  4. Maria

    What a wonderful legacy! This post made me really happy to read.

  5. Deborah Drucker

    Lovely tribute to your mother-in-law. Enjoy the adventure of discovery with her recipes.

  6. Jo

    I love this in more ways than I can say. It’s a project that’s right up my alley and I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  7. Janet Alcorn

    What a precious gift! I have some of my mom’s old recipes, but she threw a lot of stuff out without telling me, so a lot are gone for good. Enjoy the project!

    • akeerie

      That’s a real shame. I’m sure the same for my Gran, who is my real food hero although I never saw her with a recipe.

  8. Natalie

    What a great project! It’s practical and sentimental and can be shared with your children. Thank you for your #weekendcoffeeshare.

    • akeerie

      Thanks Natalie, and thanks for hosting the share

  9. Kirstin

    What a fun project. I love handwritten recipes. I have a few from my mom and grandma. So fun to look through, even if I never recreate the recipes.

  10. Steven

    We have a similar box from my grandmother, but hers was green and kind of looked like a tiny greenhouse. Family recipes are just the best.

    • akeerie

      I wish I’d paid more attention to my Grans cooking, although I’m not sure she had anything written down.

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