Remember the days when cookbooks weren't so readily available, and you or your mother relied on only one or two different cookbooks for cooking all of your family's meals? I still have my mother's old cookbooks, as well as my grandmother's. Each one is worn from age and use--if you flip through the tattered pages it is obvious which recipes were turned to time and time again. These cookbooks will always number among my most precious treasures.
When our mothers wanted to try new recipes, they most likely didn't run out and buy new cookbooks. They often didn't have the extra money to spend, and often there weren't very many to choose from. So where did they get new recipes? From each other.
When I was a child I remember my mother exchanging recipe cards with friends and relatives and bringing them home and filing them away in her recipe box. I always loved going through her recipes (although she often got mad at me for getting them all out of order!)
All the years while I was learning how to cook I went through her recipe box time and time again, pulling out my favorite recipes and preparing them again and again.
Seeing who the recipes were from made them all the more special.I also love looking back at all the recipe cards I prepared myself while I was in 4-H and spent much of my time learning how to cook. I still prepare many of the recipes I used back then. To this day, all I have to do is open my recipe card box, and I am instantly transported back in time.
My mother hasn't exchanged recipe cards with anyone in more than 20 years. I have very few of my own (although I hope to inherit hers someday!) But even to this day there is no better place to find favorite family recipes than in my mother's recipe box.
Twenty years from now, I look forward to going through my recipe box with my own daughter, telling her stories about where all of my different recipes came from.