There were touches of Anne all over the house - from her clothes in the closet to her well-worn serving pieces in the kitchen. I was immediately drawn to her cookbook shelf and down on the very bottom amongst store-bought books, I found her handmade cookbooks. And then her recipe cards that another shopper had cast off to buy her recipe box, bound tightly with old rubber bands. And now, I keep them in my studio in their very own box.
They are incredibly fascinating to me. I love seeing Anne's delicate, perfect handwriting and the photos of dishes that she cut out of magazines and carefully pasted into notebooks. And the pages accidentally splattered with ingredients. And sometimes, she'd write little notes next to the recipes after she made them to rate them. It's funny but when I see "very good" written in her pert little script, I have no doubt that she was right. The collection starts in the early 50's when she most likely set up housekeeping and goes into the late 1980's.
There is also a whole binder full of clippings from a regular newspaper column about local Nashville women and how they cooked and entertained. I LOVE these to pieces:
This clipping tells of how ladies from the neighborhood have this lady cook meals for them and then pretend that they made them with their own two hands. No wonder she looks so tired! (I'm still trying to come to terms with the Early American gas can on the table..)
I learned that this lady loves hat making and won a ribbon at the Tennessee State Fair for the sport coat that she made for her husband. On her table is Southern Fried Rabbit, Spanish Corn and Congealed Strawberry Salad (that Anne marked as "very good")
From her clipping, I learned that she has a small dining room and was once in a sorority. And that she never sees her husband because he works a lot. She is serving Open Faced Tomato Finger Sandwiches and Bing Cherry Congealed Salad.
Sometimes, I'll just take the box down and look through these things and think about how Anne took the time to plan out how she would feed her family and entertain. How she probably had "everyday dishes" and then "the good dishes" and nicely pressed linens at the ready. And she probably knew her way around a good hostess gift too.
And I think about how she'd probably laugh at how I make the same three easy recipes over and over and then kindly encourage me to try something more exciting like "Red Curry Delight" or the "Harvey Wallbanger Cake".
I think it's interesting how some people look at this stuff as "junk" - like 90% of the people at that estate sale - but how people like me (and maybe you) latch onto it and want to buy it and preserve it. In fact, I've thought up a little project surrounding Anne's collection and if things go well, it'll be on tap for this year.
Until next time,
x's and o's,