Rescued Recipes

Apple Fluff
The other day, I spotted a handwritten recipe on someone's blog. I loved the way it looked. It was wrinkled, and used and real. It occurred to me that what the web needs is more handwriting, less type.

And so, in search of more handwriting and less type, I turned to what we all turn to when we don't know where else to look — ebay. I typed in "handwritten recipes." And then I came across something astonishing.

You can buy entire boxes of laboriously written recipes — things that represent the labors of a lifetime — — on Ebay. That means sons and daughters, maybe grandsons and granddaughters, must have found these labors of love, and for some reason decided to get rid of them — at yard sales, and garage sales and estate sales. And then an enterprising Ebayer scooped them up and listed them on Ebay.

Then and there, I decided to buy every single recipe box on Ebay.

Except I can't afford them all. So, I'm just buying what I can. This photo represents the very first one. It came in the mail from some people in Oregon. But the woman who created this box is from Iowa. How do I know that? Well, some of the recipes are written on the back of what look like county farm records — and they're from Iowa.

This week, I'm going to try Apple Fluff. I chose it completely at random. It sounds interesting. Sort of like a trifle, except without whipped cream — more a meringue, but with applesauce. I have no idea what that would be like. I woke up this morning, wondering why it has no sweetener and no spices. There are other things in this blue box — jams (strawberry, chokeberry jelly) and salad dressings, a rice pudding for Christmas. A vanilla ice cream recipe from the 1930s.

My guess is that life was good in Iowa back when these recipes were written and cooked. At least in this woman's house, where dessert was a common occurrence.

Her recipes have a home now. I'm going to cook some of them, and tell you about it. A friend suggested I call this effort SaveOurRecipes (yes, that sort of spells out Savor.) That seems the least I can do.


14 thoughts on “Rescued Recipes

  1. What a neat idea! My recipe cards I have handwritten and added the name of the person who either I or my mom got the recipe from. These are precious heirlooms! How can people just get rid of them?!

  2. I don’t think it’s because they hated the way their mother cooked. It seems very American to me — to move on without thinking about where you’ve been, to throw perfectly good things away, to forget to stop and pay attention to what happened before you got here.

    And Shuana — I really enjoyed reading your writing!

    Best, BL

  3. Wow, I had no idea people would be selling such things online. But then, why not? How did you stumble across them?

  4. Hi RS — I’m always blown away by the stuff people sell on Ebay. As i’ve said somewhere else on this site, Ebay is like a yard sale with a search engine invented by your geeky cousin. And there they are, once you type in the right search words! I’m looking forward to writing about these.

  5. Bloglily, I love that you’re rescuing these recipes! Thanks for stopping by my site, hope you come back 🙂 Either way, I’ll be stopping here often!

  6. Hi! What a great idea. I stumbled across your blog because I am looking for a recipe for chokeberry jelly (or as we call them chokecherry jelly). Any chance you could send me the recipe or a picture of the recipe card? Thanks, Heather (Saskatoon, SK, Canada)

  7. Nicole, I’m thrilled that you’re here — as a huge fan of your site, it’s nice to have your company.

    Welcome Heather — I don’t know how to make chokeberry jelly, but if I come across anything like that, I’ll be sure to email you.

  8. Dear BlogLily–I just discovered your site while googling for ‘rescued recipes’. I’m excited to know someone else shares my obsession for finding discarded recipe collections! I’ve not tried the eBay route as I tend to stick to thrift stores, estate and yard sales. I came across my first recipe collection at a Virginia estate sale in the home of a recently deceased women. I went around and asked each of the family members present if they really wanted to sell them–noone cared. I felt a bit like a thief buying the woman’s life in food (for a total of $2.50). It broke my heart a bit to think that one of those family members must really have loved rice pudding; I found over 8 recipes for the dish.

    I’ve since found 4-5 additional sets. All are from the Virginia tidewater area and paint an interesting picture of local foods (crab, fish, oysters, clams) and the families/women who collected them. So, I’m glad to know someone else is rescuing these collections as well! Cheers! Kate (Ware Neck, VA)

  9. Hi Kate — That’s so interesting. I love it when I find out I’m not the only person who finds something fascinating about those recipe tins. I haven’t had a chance to revisit the recipes lately, but I’m hoping over the holidays to do some desserts. Best, Lily

  10. Hi — “rescued recipes”…. I have 2 boxes of these from my Grandmother. I stumbled onto this Blog while trying to locate a source of Chokecherry Jelly (grandma used to make it).

    Anyway, the handwriting on that card looked exactly like my Grandmothers and I plan to compare it to mine. Are there any notes of where in Iowa this person might have been? you can email me directly wjdreamin at the yaho place if you care to share more information…

    also — I’m fairly certain that I have the recipe for Apple Fluff tooo…..

  11. Hello Smilinheart, I’d be happy to take a look and email you, although it might take me a week or so to do that. speaking of apple fluff, I think it’s time for us to make some! Best, BL

  12. I was thrilled to find your site and see firt thing a recipe from the 1800’s which is what I collect and try to incorporate into my homemade homecooked meals. I can’t wait to try the teacakes. IF you find any more of the really old recipes, I’d be interested in seeing them.

    Thanks so much!!! junestar

  13. I am looking for a recipe that my grandmother made. She made very thin tea type cakes and stacked them. She then made a brown sugar type icing that was thin and poured over them. This was back during the depression. Does anyone have an old recipe like this?

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