When I use the term heirloom it extends far beyond a tangible thing. Quite literally it is defined as a person or a thing that carries on some tradition or circumstance. It could be a vintage piece of jewelry, a family recipe or even a skill, like learning to sew. To me, the heirloom quality is the storied past, full of meaning, memories and craftsmanship.
As I often mention, I have been fortunate to have been passed down a big stack of my Grandmother and Great Grandmother’s handwritten recipe cards. There are some I’ve never heard of and certainly never eaten, and some that are treasures I grew up enjoying around our table.
I love when someone says that they have “no recipe” because it means they cook from the heart, and from a learned skill that has been passed down to them. Terms like dash, pinch + splash give nod to the inclusion of an ingredient but hint at the secret fact that you must truly listen, learn and practice these family recipes to truly master them in your own kitchen one day.
To spend an entire day baking alongside your mother or grandmother, learning what they dough should feel like or how the cake should feel or when the sauce should boil, is the most invaluable time you will spend. Anyone who has ever tried to re-create their Grandmother’s biscuits will know this to be true. And I guarantee you’ll hear stories you’ve never heard before, as she recalls memories of making the same dish years ago, of when she learned to make it as a child.
Much like the stories that Native Americans pass down through their tribes, the details may change slightly over the years but at the heart of the tale, or recipe, is a storied past rich in history. It are these nuances that bring a well-loved, splattered, handwritten family recipe card to life.
To not take the time to celebrate and learn to make these treasured family recipes from scratch, the way they’ve always been made, marks the end of an heirloom. My challenge to you today is to pick one of your childhood favorites and learn to make it for yourself. It seems a simple challenge but it means this recipe will live on for another generation.
Love if you’d share your favorite handwritten recipe cards, your try at recreating a recipe or your time spent mastering this challenge with #heirloomed.
I’ll be sharing a special new project with you that was inspired by this very notion, so stay tuned!