I love a good book, but there’s one book I love above all others – my Grandma’s cookbook.
It’s a snapshot of her life through food, from the simplest of recipes to the most creative culinary concoctions, spanning 70 years of Grandma’s cooking life.
It’s a window into her world unlike any other.
The black leather cover is stained and smudged with decades of use. The pages are yellowed and worn. The binding is falling apart. And between every page there’s an added extra – a few centimetres snipped from the pages of a newspaper, a recipe scrawled on the back of a Dunlop proxy form and letters from her friends sharing their own cookery hints and kitchen successes.
It seems every member of the family has contributed in some way at some stage. Their names are included along with the date of their own offering. And even the recipes that have no name still bare the unique handwriting of their owner.
There might have been some order to it once, but these recipes have been referenced so often – probably in the thick of baking, bottling or brewing – that reading this book is now more of a journey than a destination.
Every page evokes strong memories of my Grandma’s kitchen from the wood fired stove where she could bake the perfect sponge to the linoleum covered kitchen table where preparation was done and every meal was shared.
As a child, I knew there was always something on the boil in Grandma’s kitchen and a magical, mystery tin on top of the cupboard protecting her latest sweet treat from hungry grandkids.
And while the cake tin is long gone, Grandma’s cookbook continues to serve up the treats.
The only question remaining is – has it made me a better cook? Ask my kids and they will tell you. I prefer to think the jury is out.