Recipe for Remembering

Written by Jane Brooks

Almost everyone loves watching the Food Network and looking up fun recipes on the internet, but you can also have fun looking up recipes from your past.  Favorite recipes can transport you back to special people and times.

Most people consider photo albums the repository of memories. But the key to my past is tucked in a 3-by-5 plastic index file box perched on my kitchen shelf. Inside, stained and worn recipe cards comprise an anthology of friendship.

Alison's Best Ever Brownie Recipe:
Do this first step in a glass baking pan and you can make the brownies right in the pan, and avoid cleaning any mixing bowls.
Melt and stir together:
2 sq. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter or margarine
1 C flour
1 C sugar
2 eggs
Handful of chocolate chips
Raisins, nuts or both (optional)
Mix well.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. For fudge-like brownies, underbake slightly, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in pan.

Defying convention, my cards are filed not by recipe titles but by the names of the people who gave me the recipes. Pesto is filed under "s" for Susan, who first introduced me to the delights of basil and marinated string cheese is tucked behind the "r" tab because it came from former boyfriend Rick (who got the recipe from Glenn, his landlord).

I've named my favorite brownie recipe "Alison's best ever brownies" because Alison was able to spout the recipe by heart, which I soon discovered wasn't hard to do, these are the most wickedly fudgy brownies you can imagine.

Many of the recipes have been in my box for decades. Just the other day I cooked up a batch of ratatouille. I pulled the card for "Evvie's Veggies." Instantly, I was transported to July 1973 when a woman I had known less than 48 hours organized a party in her Jerusalem apartment to celebrate my 27th birthday. That night, Evvie (my Scottish hostess), Itzhak, and her handsome Russian boyfriend toasted me. And later Michael, a soft-spoken South African engineer, showed me the most exquisite starry sky I've ever seen.

One day last winter, I transferred my favorite recipes to my computer. But electronic files can't replace recipe cards. How could I get rid of the tomato sauce-stained card on which my mother wrote her wonderful recipe for chicken cacciatore? Ditto for my father's favorite peach pie.  The first time I baked it, he took the issue of Bon Appetit where I found the recipe, and in his engineer's precision printing, copied the recipe onto an index card for me to be certain I wouldn't lose it. And sure enough, each summer, he got his peach pie.

That card is now covered with peach stains and the frayed edges have been taped many times, but it remains in my file box with so many other recipes, each laden with delectable memories. No matter how diet-conscious you may be, sometimes you just have to splurge. Trust me, memory lane is well worth the calories.

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