The recipe box I remember looked like a small house, the body blue, with little window painted on. The pink roof doubled as a music box (I don't remember the song, but I want to say it was "Over the Rainbow") and opened to reveal well work corners of many different types of recipe cards. Each family member had a different card, and if I couldn't tell by the handwriting who wrote the card, I could tell by the card choice. Every recipe in there was used. It was not a food-porn collection of things that might be good for a dinner party if you ever have time to throw the dinner party you seem to never have time to plan. There wasn't much that made it into the recipe box that didn't really earn its place. Although she would sometimes thumb through and throw out recipes given by well-meaning family members but never made it into the rotation, most of the recipes were in there, copied from friends or from a recipe book.
My mom wouldn't so much follow the recipes once the food was in our house, but I imagine it was an easy way to remind herself of what things she liked, what we all liked, when she was too exhausted to answer that sometimes benign, sometimes painful question: "What should we eat?"
As I gear up for another school year, I am saying goodbye to last minute trips to the store for the fixings for a never before tried double dipped seitan recipe or a much needed egg to make zucchini fritters for breakfast. Instead, I will start making shopping lists and meal plans and prepping for an easier week by making a big pot of soup on Sundays.
But finding recipes is a big fucking deal. Not only do I have a cookbooks (few, all well loved), I also have a rotating selection of library cookbooks and Pinterest and emails of things to try and pictures of recipes I found in magazines while waiting at the doctor's office. I start flipping through these and get overwhelmed and forget that I have old standbys. If it was a particularly hard day, we just order pizza. I need a place to go, not to feel inspired, but when I don't feel like thinking about food at all.
Like my mom, once the food is in the house, the cooking part is relativity second nature. I am finally turning into into what I've always thought a real cook was: someone who knows that lemon is an acid and so is vinegar and that they bring brightness and depth to a recipe; someone who can tell the difference between herbs because she can smell them on her fingers, ready to by dropped into a curry or marinara; someone who feels food, someone who has a recipe box.
My recipe box, that pretty teal number in the picture above that hardly has a scratch on it, is a little neglected, but just yesterday I added a recipe for cashew cheese that Beckett can't seem to get enough of.
Also, have you seen the Macklemore video "Downtown"? How awesome does our little city of Spokane look?