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A Recipe Collection’s Journey

Corner cupboard recipe collection

Recipe collection’s original home

This is where the journey of my mother’s recipe collection begins. The top shelf of this corner kitchen cupboard housed my mother’s recipes, including all of her cookbooks. Over the years, the recipe shelf became pretty full. They remained there long after my mother had any use for them, until my father had to clear the cupboard out in preparation of selling the house in 2008.

I can just picture my father staring at this sea of newspaper clippings; the colourful recipe index cards they hand out to shoppers as promotions on Saturdays in grocery stores; cooking books with aging spines and spattered covers; and (my personal favourite) handwritten recipes scrawled for posterity on bits and pieces of scrap paper. His solution was to parcel everything up (unsorted) and mail it me in Vancouver.

My mother's cookbooks

From in a corner cupboard in Winnipeg to on top of my kitchen cabinets

As I unpacked the contents they came in, the cookbooks, envelopes of recipes, loose recipe index cards and clippings seemed endless. I found unused magazine file boxes and stuffed them with anything that wouldn’t stand up on its own. The cookbooks were double their original size because of my mother’s additions – loose recipes, household tips snipped from newspapers and magazines, even the actual packaging with recipes printed on the flattened cardboard box or the cellophane wrapper. I removed the loose recipes and household tips, adding them to the file boxes. Then I parked the whole lot in the space above the kitchen cabinets. Where they remained for several year. (Well, okay, since they were mailed to me in 2008). After deciding to organize my kitchen last summer, I was forced to rethink the recipe collection.

I bought a black plastic legal organizer with 5 different coloured file folders (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, Appetizers/Soups/Dips) at Staples. I cleared off the bookshelves of the small bookcase underneath the Jazz Portrait. It’s going slowly and I still have a lot of fine sorting and paper recycling to do (so far I have counted 22 pickle recipes).

My mother's recipes finally organized

Transformed into a manageable system of file boxes and a portable hanging file

Now I can just turn the corner to grab a cookbook or the appropriate recipe folder rather than get the step-stool and haul it down from the top shelf.

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