Creativity Burst: Old Recipes

Old Recipes Box

Old Recipes? What’s the difference between them and any other recipe? A great deal in fact.

I was reminded of this when my brother reached out to me asking for my Grandmother’s old recipes as he wanted to try a few. Years ago, my Mother gave me all of my Grandparents’ recipes, which are truly a walk back in time. How so?

First off, many of their recipes are typed up – with a typewriter and all. Can you imagine a time when people would put an index card into their typewriter and type up a recipe? How novel. So, many of these recipes are easy to read.

Second, the types of recipes give me some insight into what they enjoyed eating during their own hey day. For my Grandparents, they loved Texas Chili, Dill Pickles, Buttered Noodles, Tomato Pudding, and other old fashioned recipes that people used to make and not just buy for convenience as they do now.

Third, these recipes, in addition to being typed up, are written on all sorts of slips of papers that give some insight into their lives and how they spent their time. One of my favorites is the Holiday Inn hotel bill that had them spend one night for $15. On the back of the receipt is my Grandmother’s handwriting scribbling down some recipe she heard from whomever she was visiting.

What does all of this have to do with creativity? For me, it gives me a burst to see how others who have gone before me enjoyed their food. Back in those days, people made it from scratch and that feels important to this time. People are back to baking bread and making their own delicious recipes, those that will mark this time as part of our own personal history.

If you have a collection of recipes somewhere in your family it may be the perfect time to give them a review. You may learn what they enjoyed, how they recorded it, as well as some history along the way depending on where they wrote down their recipes. One’s mind can wander back to that time and find reassurance that older generations made their way through, through both good and challenging times, and what they were eating as they did so.

The continuity of care provided by these recipes gives me a creative burst of energy to try one of their recipes or even one of my own. It also inspires me to write my own recipes down on sheets of paper that feel so modern now, but in 50 years will seem vintage, like scraps of paper.

Given this time when people are cooking up a storm as they did many years ago, use it as a space to learn more about people and how they cooked before you and find ways to record your own experience as it is sure to be treasured by the future people who read you and your recipes.