Monday, June 8, 2015


My mother got them at a yard sale. Two complete sets of recipe cards in pristine condition. The "McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection" from 1974 and "Betty Crocker's Step By Step Recipes" from 1975.
The McCall's collection was housed in a box with a clear, hinged top which allowed me to peer inside and get a good look at the brightly colored divider cards emblazoned with names like "New England", "Creole Country" and "The Old South". I found these titles so intriguing and authoritative that I implicitly trusted that the recipes chosen for each category were, in fact, the quintessential recipes that embodied these geographic locales. Yes, the rich cultural and culinary heritages of these regions could be boiled down to twenty or so carefully chosen recipes. Surely no others would ever be needed…or wanted.
The Betty Crocker collection was encased in a solid mold of thick, orange plastic that gave no hint of the treasures it held within. And, when I say orange, I mean that special shade of orange that, along with mustard yellow and dirt brown made up the holy trinity of the 70's color palette. It was more orange than orange, if that's possible.  This set offered not just one picture of the final product, but several step-by- step color photos of how to create it. I was fascinated.
I spent hours looking through the recipes, marveling at the colorful photos. I had never seen or tasted dishes like these. These offerings were oh-so fancy, and oh-so cosmopolitan to a young girl of five. In my imagination, these recipes were served at lavish dinner parties where elegant, worldly women wearing Windsong perfume and dashing men wearing Old Spice cologne sipped endless snifters of Harvey's Bristol Cream. After all, those were the most grown up things I knew.

For years these boxes occupied a place of prominence in our kitchen. An odd place for a collection of recipe cards that, as far as I could remember, my mother never used. She claims that she did, but the only evidence that I have ever found of my mother's presence is the word "good" written in her hand in green ink on one of the stray cards stuck in front of the box. A card that belonged to neither set.
The years passed and I forgot about the cards. Then, about five years ago, my mother called to ask me if I wanted any of her cookbooks since she didn't use most of them anymore. Suddenly, the cards flashed in my mind. "Do you still have those boxes of recipes I used to love..."
So, at last, my beloved cards and I are reunited after more than three decades.  As I began to go through the boxes with the eye and palate of an adult, however, I realized that some of the recipes were not only dated, but horrific. Undaunted, I pressed on and managed to sort the cards into three basic categories:
  1. Recipes that I would make.
  2. Oh. My. God. No...Seriously? Eww.
  3. I bet you I could get so and so to try this. They'll eat anything.
So, my plan is to make some of the recipes from these collections and post about my cooking adventures. Some will be easily assimilated into a weeknight menu. Others...not so much. And, who knows? I may even serve Harvey's Bristol Crème…


  1. I am so excited for you. I can't wait to read all about your cooking exploits. This will be so much fun.

  2. Thanks so much for being my first follower! I will try to make it an interesting read and to do justice to my beloved collection.