Tag Archives: recipe file

Starting with A

My grandmother organized her recipes and newspaper clippings alphabetically. It seems appropriate to start with the A’s in my quest to sort through and cook from her file.

Today I made labels for the sections in the new folder I got last week. Then I went through the papers that had fallen out of the old folder. Most of them came from the A,B, and C sections but a few were difficult to categorize (an obituary in a recipe file?).

There are some really, really old handwritten recipes in the B’s and C’s. Bread, cake, and cookies were ever popular with my grandparents and great grandparents! I think looking at these old recipes will always take my breath away and leave me more than a little awestruck at what I’m holding. I promise, those slips of paper, ingredient lists, and vague instructions will be on here soon.

Until then Lee and I are off on a weekend visit to my aunt’s house. I can’t wait to relax by the pool and catch up with my aunt. I also have the urge to do come canning before the summer is over so hopefully I can pick up some jars on our travels.

Next week I’ll be making something using this lovely kitchen inheritance.


Does anyone want to guess what I’ll be making?


Filed under inspiration and musings

Peanut Butter Cookies (From the File)


I don’t think I’ve ever made peanut butter cookies before. How said is that? Sure, I’ve made cookies and various other treats with peanut butter in them but I’ve never made a straight-up peanut butter cookie. That’s right, I’ve never had the pleasure of smooshing fork marks into the top of thick, rich, peanutty dough balls. Truthfully, I’ve always been a little put off my recipes calling for peanut butter and butter in PB cookies. Why do they need both?

It’s only fair to give this standard recipe a try before declaring it ridiculous. it just so happens that my grandmother’s recipe file (let’s just call it The File) contains such a peanut butter cookie recipe. It’s on a leaf of notepaper that fell out of The File’s torn bottom back at my dad’s house. Peanut butter cookies are at the top of the page and below is a recipe for Icebox Cookies, followed by Coconut Haystacks on the back. There are little notes in the margins next to each recipe, one noting that the PB cookies are a nice, small recipe. The icebox cookies are also described as a small recipe and a note says “better double it”. I love these little voices from past kitchens. I don’t know whose they are, since the handwriting doesn’t really look like my grandmother’s. I’m guessing that my great-grandmother (G.B.) wrote these lines. She was the queen in the sweets department. I can picture her planning a day of cookie baking for some special occasion.

Here they are, plain-old peanut butter cookies. They’re far from a secret family recipe but as my first peanut butter cookies, I’m quite proud of them. I’m also proud of myself for hustling them out of the house as soon as I baked them. I took these cookies (along with some lovely chocolate chip cherry cookies I made yesterday) to Lee’s work this morning. Giving away baked goods is always more satisfying than eating all of them yourself. I assure you, though, I tested these cookies and they are good!


Peanut Butter Cookies
From The File

1/2 cup room-temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten

Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re buff like me), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the peanut butter and blend thoroughly.
Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract
Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, to the wet ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth dough.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as you can wait to make your cookies (not part of the original recipe).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (a “medium oven”, as the recipe says).
Spoon dough onto parchment, Silpat, or oil-coated cookie sheets (I ended up with 22 cookies).
Smoosh the tops of the balls with the bottom of a fork in perpendicular directions.
Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies smell yummy and you can’t wait to eat one!


Filed under desserts, inspiration and musings

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