Gratitude Day 343

Tues., Oct. 22, 2019

Matthew 4:44: But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

There are different ways we can discover something about a person. We can look at their Facebook or Linked In account, Google them or ask other people about them. We can even do the old-fashioned thing and talk with them.

What happens when we are no longer able to talk to that person?

We find clues in different ways.

This happened recently while I was going through a recipe box. This was Grandma Sowers, my maternal grandmother’s recipe box. Suddenly, I was transported back to a time and place I had not visited in a long, long time.

The recipe box took me back to her kitchen. When a person entered her house through the side entrance, you were immediately in Grandma’s kitchen. It had a distinctive smell that I always associated with my grandmother. The west wall was filled with dark oak cabinets with a window and sink in the middle. The refrigerator was built into this wall of cabinets on the far north side. I remember where the silverware drawer was and how there was a bread board that could be pulled out right above it. I know where she kept the plates as well as the Triscuit crackers; one of her favorite foods.

Across from the refrigerator was a white porcelain stove. A small metal cabinet was next to the stove. On top of this cabinet, Grandma kept certain things, including a small metal container where grease from the bacon was poured into and kept for future cooking.

All the sights and smells from this kitchen came rushing back while I went through Grandma’s recipe box. Some of the recipes I remembered well. Others, I saw for the first time.

Every 3×5” card had something written on it or a recipe taped to it. Some recipes were slid into plastic covers. These were used to keep the card from being damaged while outside of the box. She had little index cards throughout the box which sectioned off various recipes.

The largest section? Cookies, which also included the bars.

I could tell what foods Grandma loved to make the most. There were lots of rhubarb and apple recipes. I didn’t know there were that many ways to cook carrots until I saw all 15 or so of them in her box.

If she received the recipe from someone she knew, this was written on the card. Or if the recipe had won a baking contest, this was noted as well. Some recipes were ones she clipped out of a magazine or flyer or newsletter. She often wrote the source next to these.

I found some of my mom’s recipes in there, as well as ones Grandma got from my Aunt Beverly, her other daughter. I had been looking for her aebleskiver recipe … and FINALLY found it. These are little donut-type breads made in a special skillet; a nod towards Grandma’s Danish heritage.

As I sorted like recipes together on my dining room table, I thought of how these recipes were part of Grandma’s recipe for life. They not only included some of her favorite foods. They express the ways she loving cooked and baked and fed her family, extended family and friends. As well as a few other things.

The “Catfish Bait” recipe threw me for a loop. Grandma loved to fish but I don’t remember catfish. She wanted to keep this recipe, as it was in the box twice! There were also recipes for moth balls, how to clean and refinish furniture, remove paint and other household tips. Right next to recipes for lasagna and meatballs and homemade peach ice cream.

Grandma did not have many “valuables” per society’s definition. Her jewelry was of the costume kind. Her clothes purchased at reasonable stores like JC Penny’s. Her pots and pans were ones she used her entire life.

If she had to identify something that she treasured and valued, I’m thinking this recipe box would have been appeared on the list and not too far down. Yes, these recipes are how she physically fed her family. She also knew that spiritual food is just as important as pancakes and ham and rice casserole. Kindness and gentleness, patience and honesty, faithfulness and peace are the ingredients needed for life’s recipe.

And a relationship with God.

Before returning the recipes to the box, I’ll make copies of some and add to my own recipe box. Every time I pull them out of my recipe box, I’ll see her distinctive handwriting and be thankful for this little opportunity to rediscover who my grandmother was. Thanks be to God.

For a chance to remember Grandma’s recipe of life, I am grateful. 

Holy God – Thank you for this gentle reminder that life’s recipe is more than Chex mix and raised doughnuts and banana bread. It’s substance that comes only from You. Thank you for feeding us over and over. Amen.

Blessings –


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