The Recipe File Project

Ever since Lee and I moved into our San Francisco apartment a few weeks ago, I’ve been sitting next to a very important presence in our home. A paper shopping bag against the wall next to my seat at the kitchen table holds my grandmothers recipe file. A cardboard box next to it holds some of her cookbooks.


When I first came across the file, bursting at the seams from all the paper crammed into it, I realized that my grandmother and I had more in common than I thought. It is clear from her collection that Helen maniacally clipped articles and recipes from any newspaper food section or food magazine she got her hands on. I remember my bringing her the entire Los Angeles Times food section when we visited my grandparents in Colorado. Helen devoured food writing as nourishment for her gourmet brain.

I like to think that I’m developing a similar habit in the vast world of online food discourse. I spend more hours a week than is healthy reading blogs, commenting, saving recipes, and clipping restaurant reviews or food-related articles from the Chronicle on my Kindle (yes, you can do that!). The cookbook section in bookstores is a deadly trap that often waylays me for much too long.

If my grandmother was alive now would she be a food blogger? Would she read blogs on her computer and email me recipes that she wanted to try? I think so.


The recipe file has not gone untouched. I have glanced at letters A-D and thumbed through most of the cookbooks in the box. What I have seen so far has inspired me to do a thorough sort and inspection of my grandmother’s recipes. The mix of newspaper clippings and ingredients scrawled on the backs of envelopes begs to be curated. Of course I’ll have to cook from the file as I sort through it! I will be posting recipes I test and telling whatever stories go along with them.

Step 1: A new file! (The bottom is ripping off of the old one and clippings are spilling out all over the place!)


Filed under inspiration and musings

5 Responses to The Recipe File Project

  1. Come to think of it, my grandmother would have LOVED food blogging. Too bad she was born in the wrong decade.

    Sounds like a great project you’re taking on!

  2. How amazing are handwritten recipes, especially when they’ve lasted for decades and you know, for a fact, that no one ever bothered to write them down for years… before some nincompoop (how did THAT not get spell-checked?) needed a written copy? I love that you are turning this into a project. Your peanut butter cookies turned out great! So simple and delicious, plus it is an ample opportunity to eat that PB right out of the jar! Please photograph some of her original recipes, if you can! I’d love to see them 🙂

  3. I love this post, Rachel. That is a great big box of love your grandmother has passed down to you. I think you are right, she probably would have been a food blogger. Lovely post!

  4. Old fashioned PB cookies! yes yes yes please. I haven’t made any PB cookies in too long. I’m gonna have to try this! maybe as sandwiches for ice cream!

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