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Grandma’s Recipe Box

Earlier this summer when I visited my family in Oregon, I took the time to look through my grandma’s recipe box, and I am so glad that I did.

My mom has had this box of recipes in her cupboard for years. I knew it was there. I have even glanced through it on occasion, but this time I really went through the recipes. I looked at them, laughed at a few of them, and decided that I even needed to try some of them.

This recipe box brought back memories of my grandmother and the food she used to make.

It brought back memories of her and of a different time. She may have passed away almost 20 years ago, but I felt like I was in her kitchen once again.

It was her handwriting. The handwriting I had seen so many times on the  letters, cards, and notes she used to give us.

It was her famous “Rocks” cookies that were made from sour cream, back in the day when sour cream was actually soured cream.

This box not only showed me what my grandma used to cook, it gave me a peek into what many of my relatives used to cook.

It reminded me of simple times when recipes did not need directions, because everyone knew how to cook doughnuts, no instructions were needed.

It was the fun and laughs and stories of explaining to my kids what an “old” fashioned type writer was.

It was the reminder that nothing is really new. Baked rice in a modern cookbook is basically the same as it was 40 or more years ago.

So much has changed, yet so little has changed. It is amazing to see how many stories can be told by the story of food. A family history, a family culture, and the places they lived, can all be seen in a recipe box.

My grandma was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900’s. She spent her life living in Oregon and Idaho. Her recipes reflect all of this.

Her recipes are filled with fruits, berries, nuts, and fish. She calls a  filbert, a filbert, which definitively reflects her NW heritage, because only a true north westerner would call a hazelnut a filbert. Yes, this recipe box shows so much of who my grandmother was.

This box reflects a time that was so different than our current time, and yet so much the same.

This recipe box tells a story and although my modern recipe box may look a little different, I hope that someday it will also have a story to tell.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I have my grandma’s recipes too. I have been typing them out to make everyone else a cookbook out of them…because I am keeping the orginals. They are treasured memories for me. I spent a lot of time in with her baking…more than my other siblings and cousins did.

    • @Jodie, It is such a treasure to have the originals isn’t it! I am sure your siblings and cousins will really appreciate you making a cookbook for them out of the recipes. That is time consuming, but so worth it!

    • When my MIL passed away, her daughter, my SIL took her recipe box and had them photocopied on to recipe cards and gave each of her 3 nieces a recipe box with Gramma’s recipes in her own hand writing! Gramma’s penmanship, her recipes, great memories! The girls love their treasured memories of Grammas recipe box!

  2. Lynette W. says

    What a lovely post. With a Grandma who has Alzheimers, so much of who she was and used to be has already been lost. I have no idea what my Mom’s sisters did with something like Grandma’s recipe box. She might have not even had one, just cooking from her head anyway. Glad that you are enjoying your treasure.

    • @Lynette W., I am sorry about your grandmother. The last few years of my grandmother’s life were very difficult as she was not herself either. Those years are very difficult to watch. We must cherish the memories and things we can, while we can.

  3. My Grandmother and I discussed recipes a lot. If I needed help or advice she was always a call a way. Even after Grandma passed, I found myself wanting to go to the phone to call her about a recipe :). My Mom inherited all her recipes and cookbooks with Grandma’s notes, and hand written recipes. My Mom, made copies of all our favorites and every grandkid recieved their own copy. Like you, when we looked at the recipes, we revisited our family’s history and different events that were surrounded by her food and lots of love.

  4. What a special treasure! I wonder if our grandchildren will look back over our recipe blogs with fondness….

    And I just have to say that my grandparents call hazelnuts filberts and they are from New Jersey. I think it might just be a name from another time.

    • @Catherine, That is interesting because I have never hear anyone outside of the NW call them filberts. Maybe it is a generation thing or a northern vs southern thing.

      And I hope future generations will look over our modern day recipe boxes, blogs, online recipes, etc with fondness. But I wonder if it will be quite the same. Nothing is quite like something hand written.

  5. I have seen my grandmother’s receipes too which also have some that were done on a typewritter. I wish that she was still alive so that I could ask about that. I find it so interesting that she would have taken the time to type it out. I wonder if it was the lastest “fad” of the time and that’s what everyone was doing :-).

  6. That’s the one thing that I wish was different about my family. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) recently passed away and I’ll often hear my mom and aunt talking about how they can’t make something like my grandmother did but there’s no recipes.

    My grandmother (on my dad’s side) also didn’t pass down anything. And neither of my parents cook/cooked. It’s frustrating because I feel a bit disassociated from my family. So when they ask me why I’m making “such and such” dish they’re not really understanding that I’m trying to reconnect with my roots.

    Moral of the story: Keep your recipes and hand them down, it’s worth it.

    • @FoodJaunts, I think this is the case with many families, but hopefully you have a few other treasures of your grandmothers to remember her by. And look at the recipe box you will have for your future generations because you have learned what a treasure or lost treasure they can be.

    • My grandmother on my mom’s side passed away too and she didn’t have anything that she passed down. It makes me sad too, because I feel disconnected from my family too. I know there was a lot of stuff that my grandmother made that I would have loved to have had the recipes to. I think we should do our best to have as many recipes we make written out on paper or recipe cards so we can pass them on to our children/grandchildren. I get all of my recipes from online places, like here and other places, plus stuff that I have made on my own and what I remember from my mom and I print them out off of my computer and I plan on making recipe cards with them and passing them down to my daughter and future daughter-in-laws and possibly grandchildren!!

  7. awww, how fun. on my dad’s side, my grandma is still alive yet has altzheimers so that’s difficult, but i have a lot of her kitchen equipment that my grandparents didn’t need anymore when they moved into assisted living. my other cousins and my sister were either living at home or old enough to have a fully stocked kitchen so i was the fortunate one in that case. it’s fun to have her crepe pan (complete with a note that says don’t use for anything other than crepes), her bundt pan (in an orignal box, no less), an old kitchenaid mixer that’s still going strong, and many other fun things that i couldn’t have afforded as a 22 year old. i also have some cookbooks from both my grandmas…but my mom has alot more. the kitchen is such a fun way to connect with family!

  8. What a treasure, Lynn!! I love browsing through my grandma’s recipe box… and I have found too that many of them don’t have instructions either 🙂

  9. Barefeet In The Kitchen says

    Definitely a treasure. I love all of my recipe cards in my grandmother’s handwriting.

  10. Karen Evens says

    I have my Granny’s recipe box and some of her cookbooks. Brings back a lot of special memories of her.

  11. What a neat post. A couple weeks ago my neighbor gave me her grandma’s recipe box as well as her great aunt’s to look through. I am waiting for my mom to get up here to do this because she is supposed to be bringing my grandma’s as well.

    hahaha I’ve lived in AZ for the last 5 years but am now back in the NW and yes I know what a filbert is

  12. What a sweet post, Lynn! Recipe boxes from loved ones are treasures and a rare thing these days. I loved your comment about the recipes not needing instructions because everyone knew how to make the item in question, like doughnuts. How true! My mom still can walk me through most any cooking endeavor, but for most of her non-baked items, she doesn’t often have actual recipes. She “eyeballs” ingredients and just knows the steps for turning them into the final product. 😉


  13. I loved this article Lynn! I too remember my Grandma, and Mum and I often talk about and until this day, use her recipes. My elder daughter is interested in baking, and some of my Grandma’s recipes are now copied into my daughter’s recipe book.
    I would love you to share some of your Grandma’s lovely recipes with us!

  14. Hello Lynn-
    I found out that my uncle has my Grandmothers recipe box and so I purchased a portable scanner a couple of years ago when I knew we were going to his house for Thanksgiving and I took my laptop and the scanner -went about 30 min early and scanned them all into my laptop, Now I am going to try to srrange them into a cookbook along with the recipes I have for my children. I have wanted to do this for years and sonething always gets in my way and I have gotten it started but not completed.
    One of the things I noticed alot was butter being call oleo- Kids today would have no clue what oleo is….

    • @Cheryl, I wish I had the box of newspaper clippings that she used to use as it were a cook book- It was funny to me as a child to see her ruffle through there and know about where a recipe was that she was looking for. I would also love to have her old cookbooks – for she always wrote notes along the sides of the recipes she tried and if there were changes she would want to try next time or some times just the word “Keeper”.

  15. What a fun post.

  16. hey! i grew up calling hazelnuts filberts too. in my neck of PA. now my dad has filbert trees that we pick hazelnuts from…if we’re lucky enough to get to them before the animals. his dogs are even smart enough to pick out the good ones. they pass over the empties.

  17. I am in the process of creating a scrapbook from my grandmother’s recipes from the 1920s to 1970s. I’m including only the recipes remember her cooking or were passed down in the family. Each page features an image of the recipe in her handwriting, a photo of the dish or an event where it might have been served. A few photos of Grandma are included, but she hated being photographed, so there were few of her available. I’m also including tidbits of information about some of the dishes, especially those named after the friends who shared their recipes. It’s sort of a food biography.

  18. I love this. I am one of 15 grandchildren on my mom’s side, but I hope I can inherit my grandmother’s hand-written recipes. I celebrated many of them in my Family Recipe Friday series a few years ago. There is nothing that feels so “home” to me as making a family recipe.

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