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  • Betty Girardeau

I Am A Hoarder


Yes, I will have to admit it. I hoard recipes. I have loved finding new recipes and trying many of them out since before I was a teenager. The first year I was married I spent a lot of time typing copies of my Mother's recipes onto 3x5 cards and putting them in a well organized file box. That file box became too small as I continued to find and be given recipes from friends. So I got a second file box. My first cook book was a gift from my sister for Christmas the year I was eleven. Since then I have collected many more, some were fund raisers for various church and social groups. Others were entire multi-volume sets like the wonderful Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking that was sold at my local grocery store with a new volume available each week for twelve weeks. Then there are also the more specialized ones dealing with recipes for things like pizza, bread, and ones that came with various kitchen appliances or accessories. Over the years I have also subscribed to magazines like "Bon Appetit," "Cuisine," and "Food and Wine." Now I get several emails a days with recipes for specific foods or occasions. And, of course, my collection includes the "Fanny Farmer Cook Book" and the "Joy of Cooking, Volume 2," which is signed by the author. From time to time I have cleaned off my shelves of cook books and gotten rid of some of them. I have reluctantly thrown away copies of magazines and printed out recipes. I have even told myself that I cannot buy any more cook books. But the space on my shelves or my print folders seem to get refilled. There are only a few recipes that I go back and prepare again and again. For the most part I like to try new ones. I have gotten a little better about the ones that I print out before trying, however. Now, if they pass the taste test, I will write notes like "good" on them and file them away, and others that were just so-so, I make myself throw out immediately. It is also helpful that I keep a year-long menu calendar, and if I tried something and liked it enough to remember it, though not by name, I go back and look it up on my calendar so I can find the recipe and make it again. But the reality is that even if I cooked a different meal that also included a dessert two times a day, everyday for the rest of my life, I could never make even a small portion of the dishes for which I have recipes. I was recently looking for an old family recipe in one of those early 3x5 files boxes and had to go through each one of those cards. I have so many recipes that sounded good to me at the time or which I also saved for special occasions when I might want to make a cheese ball or special appetizer, or very time-consuming dessert that now, living alone and with fewer social outlets, I know I will never make. But I just can't part with them...yet, because they still sound like they would be good and "someday" I might want to make them. So I will continue to hoard recipes. And when I am no longer here maybe my children will go through my recipes and pick out ones that they remember or that think they might want to try, remembering me as they add them to their own hoards. I know that is what I did after my Grandmother died and I was able to make her loose leaf and handwritten collections of recipes my own. I doubt seriously that I will ever need her recipe for Beef Tangine Salad made with beef tongue, or Molasses Taffy that needs several helpers so that it can be finished by pulling, but having her recipes means that I am still connected to her in some small way. It is a window into a part of her that I, too, share, a love of food and cooking.

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