I’ve mentioned before that my love for baking comes from my Grandmother who lived directly across the street from us when I was younger. I spent so much time at her house watching and helping as she baked a million different things and I remember taking my Grandpa freshly-baked, right out of the oven toll house cookies so many times I can’t even count them. I remember how my Grandma would let me make my own little pies while she made her pies. I never wanted filling in mine, so she’d just let me put cinnamon and sugar on my pie crust, and I thought it was the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten.

I was flipping through my recipe binder yesterday and it was like taking a stroll down memory lane. I saw my Grandmother’s handwriting, stains made by ingredients used in recipes, emails with recipes that my husband sent to me long before we were a couple, recipes that were my grandmother’s in my daughter’s handwriting when she was much, much younger, and recipes given to me from close friends.

I use online recipes almost exclusively these days, but I really love getting a new cookbook and flipping through the pages. There’s something about seeing those gorgeous photos of food and feeling those pages. I feel like I’m being a bit of a sap with this post and I’m certainly not one of those people who thinks that computers are ruining our society – but I worry that memories like this may fade as we become more and more digital in our lives. When I pull up a recipe and take my iPhone with me into the kitchen, I have no doubt that the recipe on my iPhone is just as good as the recipe in that old cookbook, but somehow the experience is different. When I’m using a recipe card written in my grandmother’s handwriting, it’s as though I have her in the kitchen with me. I love my iPhone but it’s not quite the same. The same thing happens with a recipe I printed out from a website. Even though that recipe is printed and not in my grandmother’s handwriting, it’s a physical object that I’m taking into the kitchen with me and it can capture the experience of cooking that particular item – either by stains from the ingredients, wrinkles in the paper, or blurred text from liquid that may have splashed or been spilled onto it. It’s physical evidence of the experience of creating. I hope we don’t lose that moving into a more digital society.

This recipe is one that my husband emailed to me long before we were ever a couple. We met online and chatted online for over 4 years before we ended up together. We were great friends and sometimes we’d select a recipe and then cook “together” (me here in Pennsylvania and him in North Carolina). This particular recipe was emailed to me in 2001 and is stained with honey (or bourbon, who knows). The best part about this is that he comments “This one looks fairly easy”. For me, it was fairly easy. For him, however, this recipe included him shattering his pyrex baking dish, cleaning his entire kitchen, and having to run to the store which was out of salmon, and buying shrimp to salvage the recipe.

And now, a photo of me grilling with my Grandpa. A real photo. From an actual album.