My Mom’s and Dad’s 1915 Five Roses Cookbooks:
They each brought a copy into their marriage.

Do you have a collection of old family recipes or cookbooks? Many of us are fortunate enough to have such treasures, lovingly passed down to us. They’re worth hanging on to.

The recipes might be contained in a cookbook, or written down on index cards and filed in a plastic or wooden box. They may be handwritten and neatly organized in a binder, or simply clipped from the newspaper and stuffed haphazardly into the pages of an old cookbook.

But no matter how the recipes are filed, there’s an easy way to tell which ones are the best:

The pages they’re on are a bit of a mess.

The best recipes probably have food stains on them, from when a cook referred to the recipe and absentmindedly pressed a finger, still wet with sauce or melted chocolate, on the page. Or the page got splattered when the cook was stirring the batter with a bit too much gusto.

There are probably adjustments or annotations written on favourite recipes to benefit cooks who would come across it later: “Needs more cinnamon” or “Use walnuts instead.” A cook might have written down where the recipe came from (“Aunt Linda’s Amazing Brownies”), or the occasion on which it was used (“Made for Grandpa and Grandma’s Fiftieth Anniversary!”).

Favourite recipes might be covered with food stains and scribbles, and might look the worse for wear, but they’re precious. Their stained and worn pages tell a sort of history of your family.

Old family recipes are treasured for a reason. They’ve stood test of time and have come through for your family time and time again. If you follow the recipes faithfully, you know you can count on them to produce good results.

An old family Bible, circa 1897
Photo by Gregg and Karin Gordon on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s the same with your old family Bible: it might be a bit worse for wear, too. The corners of the pages might be dog-eared, and the spine might be starting to crack. Some of the pages probably have tear stains on them, maybe in Psalms from when a relative was going through a hard time and was looking for hope.

An old family Bible is also likely to also have things written in it. There are probably underlined verses and notes scribbled in the margins. An ancestor might have recorded family births and deaths in the front. Another relative may have jotted down how God answered a prayer or kept a promise, knowing this would benefit descendants who’d read it later.

But no matter how worn an old family Bible is, it’s exceptionally precious. It contains a history of how God came through for members of your family, over and over again. Its promises have stood the test of time. Your Bible tells you the best way to proceed: if you follow it faithfully, you know things will work out for your good.

Old family recipes and old family Bibles are both cherished possessions. If you’ve got them, treasure them, and use them well.

Then pass them on to the next generation. They’ll thank you for it.

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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