Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Recipe Box Collection

 Housekeeper Debbie and I spent two days cleaning and winterizing the Divine Cabin, now 85 years old with cracks in the foundation big enough to stick my hand in, and to fix them I emptied my cobwebbiest closet of boxes packed during my move here 12 years ago, unsealed the boxes to see what to throw out, and found, carefully wrapped in Taste of Home Magazine pages from 2001, my cherished recipe-box collection, mostly of tin and manufactured between 1950 and the 1970s, many of them by Ohio Art Company of Bryan, Ohio, maker also of tin toys.

If bought at yard sales or on eBay a box might yet be crammed with some homemaker's recipe cards, newspaper clippings and notes, telling an intimate story of her household and her kitchen, heart of the home. And the heart of the kitchen is--it must be--the recipe box! I have made some of their recipes, such as Orange Chiffon Pie. Many recipes, reflecting their era, require canned soups. My mother owned the same box as the red one pictured, and I laid out for you a sample of the unknown former owner's recipes: a clipping on how to make Arthur Treacher-style fish and chips; a handwritten recipe for 24-Hr. Salad, on its reverse a handwritten recipe for "Chicken Cha Cha," a dish credited to Della Reese, the singer; and a note saying "Calgon & water - mix to remove wallpaper." Just visible inside the box: "Potato Chip Cookies."

My brain's pleasure center lights up seeing their colors and imagining their stories, and I welcome the recipe boxes (the only items I have ever actively collected) back wholeheartedly into my daily life.

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