Grandma’s Recipe Box

Do you have a recipe box?  I don’t.  I used to have one but haven’t seen it in years.  All my recipes are on the computer these days.  Mom gave me my grandma’s recipe box.  She got it from my grandma probably 15 years ago.

I love that she has the pecan pie recipe taped onto the front of the box.

This recipe was given to my grandma by a friend in 1948.  I so wish all the recipes were dated.  They wrote them on notebook paper, on the backs of envelopes, some are copied onto the tiniest bits of paper!  There are many recipes torn from newspapers.

This is what I’ve been telling you for years!  🙂   “Bake your own bread — it’s better and costs half as much as buying it!”  This isn’t the recipe I use for rolls but I’m going to try it.

My grandparents lived near Zwolle, Louisiana where they make and sell the best tamales.  Those are some of the things I miss most about Louisiana and I finally figured out how to make them.  My grandma had this newspaper article in the recipe box and it mentions the Tamale Festival and gives a recipe for making tamales.  I’ll have to compare that to my recipe but we had Zwolle tamales one night while I was in Louisiana and I think mine are pretty comparable to those.

This recipe for Chocolate Sheet Cake is in my writing.  There’s no telling when I wrote that but it was years ago because my handwriting is horrible and has been since I learned shorthand.

Somebody even typed out a recipe for my grandma and notice there’s a Simplicity dress pattern number on there.  Guess my grandma had intentions of getting that pattern and making herself a new dress.

My grandpa’s mom always had tea cakes in her kitchen.  I know I don’t remember things exactly as they were but I never remember going to her house when there wasn’t a big platter of tea cakes . . and I went to her house often!  Mom said she doesn’t remember a single time she went to Maw’s house when there weren’t tea cakes.  One of the things I’ve wished over and over again was that I had her tea cake recipe.  One of her daughters (my grandpa’s sister) is still alive and I called her to ask her if she has the recipe. She doesn’t but she told me that her mom made biscuits every morning and then in the same bowl, she made tea cakes . . every day!  I’ve tried dozens of tea cake recipes hoping to get one similar to what I remember my great grandmother’s tea cakes tasting like.  In my grandma’s recipe box was this tea cake recipe.

This will be the first of her recipes that I make and I’m so hoping they’ll be the same as how I remember Maw’s tea cakes.

No doubt, my grandma never thought her recipe box was anything special but I’m so thrilled to have it, along with all these old recipes!


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    pat says

    I love recipes too.

    When you mention shorthand it brings back memories I took it and it ruined my hand writing too. I actually had a writing certificate for very excellent writing but now they would revoke it from me. The shorthand really ruined my writing.

    I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year for 2011.

    I really enjoy reading your daily messages you write here too.

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    Judy Wolf says

    I always loved it when my grandmother made tea cakes. I think I ate as much of the dough as the cookies. It is a recipe I have cherished and when I want to have something around to remember my Nanny, I make her tea cakes. It was a favorite of my Dad’s too.

    Judy in MO

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    My recipe box is from the early 80’s, blue with little white geese..very “country”. My goal for 2011 is to make some tamales…wish me luck..

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    Linda (Petey) Fritchen says

    What a treasure! Special memories of loved ones at this time of year are priceless. Don’s think I know for sure what a ‘tea cake’ is. Hoping you will share your results from the recipe with us.
    I have a hunger for my great-grandma’s sugar cookies. They were very thick and soft and floury (?). She baked them in her cookstove oven. Wish I had her recipe!
    My daughter makes good sugar cookies, but not quite like ggma’s. Merry Christmas…

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    Kathie L in MD says

    I have some of my mom’s old recipes in a box. She has been gone over 3 years now and for the first time my daughter and I are going to try one of her receipes this Christmas. It is for Carmel Burnt Butter cookies and I remember having them every year at Christmas. Hope mine will turn out as well as hers.

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    pdudgeon says

    yep, i have an old wooden double recipe box with recipies from my mom and my grandmothers and their friends as well. the box is cramed full with recipies and memories.

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    Bizzybess says

    I have my mother-in-laws recipe box and I had hoped her tea cake recipe was in it but alas it wasn’t. I guess she made them from memory. If it not asking too much I would love to have your Grandmother’s. I have tried other people’s but have not found the right taste and texture yet. I’m have a sickening feeling it’s because they used lard as their shortening.

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    What a treasure you have! I have my Great Granny’s recipe box and I have my own that I started when I was in Home Ec way back in high school. In fact it’s right here by me now as I had to get out a recipe for DD2.
    I should get Granny’s out and see what is in there…….it’s been put away for a long time.

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    Wonderful memories – and I have mom’s and my aunt’s boxes.

    If the tea cakes don’t taste as exactly as you remember them, I wonder if you’ll have to first make the biscuits and not clean the bowl? There might be something in the biscuit recipe that lends a special flavor twist to the tea cakes, especially if the bowl was set aside for a bit, while the biscuits were being rolled out, cut, baked.

    After all, sourdough recipes rely on a starter.

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    I have my mother’s recipe box and it is full of clippings from the newspaper and lots of recipes in her handwriting. I love looking at it but she wasn’t a very good cook so I haven’t made many things from it. My favorite is my Uncle Clark’s Apple Bread/Cake.

    I would love to have your tea cake recipe after you try it out.

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    I saw a neat display in a home I visited. The woman had framed one of her grandmother’s hand-written recipe cards, complete with stains, along with a black and white photograph of her grandmother in her kitchen. I thought that was so cool.

    I assume Grandma had a recipe box, but I never saw her use a recipe. Most of the stuff she did was from memory and was not written down. My mother’s box, however, is overflowing.

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    I have the recipe box from both of my great-aunts and my great grandma. Then I have the recipe book from my grandmother. And the one from my mother. Plus the recipe box from my aunt. I need to sort and organize them, don’t I? Several are so old that they call for things like ‘butter the size of a walnut’. I had to look up ‘Snow Drift’: it’s shortening from the 1920s. *smile*

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    I think my aunt has grandma’s recipes. I remember looking through them at one time, she had a hand written journal of recipes and a box. Would be nice to see them sometime but she lives in WI and I live in AR and rarely see each other.

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    Penny says

    I’m not sure what an American tea cake is. Here in the UK it would be a yeasted and fruited bun usually served lightly toasted and well buttered. Yummy!
    I have an old cook book which belonged to my great aunt, inside it was stuffed with recipes on backs of envelopes, newspaper cuttings etc just as you described but unfortunately I don’t have my grandmother’s. I have a journal my mother bought me in the US some years ago (she lived for a while in Ohio and then Mississippi) its title is “I’m Writing My Own Cookbook”, its full now of my own favourite recipes and I hope my girls will treasure it and the memories those recipes invoke in later years.

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    Toni in TN says

    The last time I was at my Mother’s she gave me my great grandmother’s White House cookbook. There are notes written in her handwriting. She died 20 years before I was born so this is a real treasure to me.

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    QuilterB says

    I did get my Grandmother’s teacake recipe. Or. rather, wrote it down as she made the cookies. Doesn’t taste the same when I make it. I wonder if it is that the modern ingredients are different or that my memory makes it different. I still keep trying to duplicate hers. Hope someday I get the trick.

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    Diann Smith says

    We xeroxed and assembled “cookbooks” from my mother’s recipes for family members. Much appreciated but somehow everything tasted better when mother made it.

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    Marilyn W says

    Hi Judy,

    I LOVE coming to your blog EVERY day! Even loaded it in Google Reader on my android phone. Can’t miss a Judy blog!

    I have a recipe box, but like you I have mine online or in a spiral binder.

    I use my recipe box on the counter to catch Boxtops for Education and Campbells Soup Labels to collect for our local schools. I think EVERY school in the nation is probably enrolled in these programs and if they aren’t they should be. Easy money…My little one (almost 4) isn’t in school yet, but we support them however we can. There is a drop box in the office and I just bag them up and drop them off 2 or 3 times a year.

    I hope I can get everyone else on this bandwagon with me. It only takes a few minutes of your time to tear off a label.


    Marilyn W
    [email protected]

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    What Fun, to have the old recipes from your past. The trick will be to make yours taste as good as your Grandmother did, at least in your memories…
    We use the computer for recipes, but my recipe box gets good use, too.

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    Doe in Mi says

    How wonderful to have that priceless recipe box from your Gramma.
    I know you will enjoy it over and over for many years. I have enjoyed it myself this morning. :=)

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    I have a couple of cookbooks that belonged to my Grandmother and in those books she wrote notes next to recipes as to whether she liked it or not, and where she took the dish. These books are a treasure to me. I love being able to see her handwriting.

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    Rose says

    A fun read about the recipes. I still have a recipe box and use it frequently. I have several recipes written on notepaper just like yours that were my Mom’s recipes. Any chance there might be a church cookbook down in LA so you could find the tea cake recipe. So many churches here in MN and WI used to publish cookbooks of recipes provided by the members that are tried and true old-time recipes. Or you might try researching Taste-of-Home magazine recipe archives. They seem to come up with old recipes from-time-to-time that orginate from all over the country.

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    Margie says

    My recipe box was made by beloved father-in-law and I will never get rid of it. I am a cookbookaholic. Love the buy them. I also have a spiral notebook and have made one for my kids with my favorites. My mom never cooked with a recipe so I don’t have anything of hers.

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    In his retirement Jerry’s dad used to write out recipes on index cards – recipes Jerry’s mother made routinely, recipes someone told him about, recipes from the newspaper, wherever he found one! We have the box (a rough old wooden box he made!) and cherish it. blessings, marlene

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    Rita says

    I was fortunate enough to inherit my grandmother’s recipe box and it’s very similar to your grandmothers. I just treasure it. I also have my own recipe box and hope someone will enjoy it in years to come.

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    Mary Jo says

    Nothing is as special as using an old recipe hand written by a loved one! I have several that came from my grandmother and from my mother-in-law. (My mom still has all of hers because at 83 she still cooks enough to use them!) Loved seeing the chocolate sheet cake recipe. The kids in our family call that cake “Beach Cake” and no occassion is complete without it. The reason for the name “Beach Cake” is that every summer my sister and myself took all of the kids (and their friends) to the beach for a couple of weeks and the cake was so easy & popular that we made one almost everyday we were at the beach house.
    Now even the grandchildren expect the “Beach Cake” at every family function.

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    I have my Mother’s recipe box. She passed away 19 years ago. It is reassuring to see her handwriting and her collection of recipes. Many of them she never made. She just enjoyed cutting them out of the newspaper or magazines. Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory with us!

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    It’s nice you have these…I scanned my Grammy’s recipes into a file since I couldn’t keep them. I would like to do some scrapbook pages someday with them.

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    Becky I. says

    What a treasure! There are a few of my Granny’s reciepes I would almost give my right arm for. Her “white mice”cookies, the fruit salad that she (we) always made together at Christmas and her bananna pudding. Oh the memories I have in the kitchen with her before family gatherings making those things. I have tried to make each of the above and they just don’t turn out like hers. She used to say that when a person cooks with her hands that her body chemistry gave the food a distinct flavor. After all these years of trying to cook some of the things she cooked I’m beginning to believe her! Enjoy your treasure!!!!

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    I actually have a recipe box that seems to be about the same size as that one, that belonged to my great grandmother. It holds a lot of treasures, that’s for sure. I love seeing her handwriting on the recipes. Isn’t that silly? But it’s a comfort to me, and makes me feel connected to her still, even though she’s been gone for many years.

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    Linda H says

    I’ve so enjoyed reading all these stories about mom’s/g’mom’s recipe boxes. The woman-to-woman connection of the recipe box is akin to that of quilting as it reaches back through the generations. That connection is a treasure to be held close and carefully guarded and passed on to our daughters. And sons, too!

    My brothers and I have passed back and forth our mother’s box and now I am the designated box keeper. I recently sorted through it again and was delighted to find recipes from 2 grandmothers written in their own hands. Now that I have a granddaughter, I’m thinking that I need to put together a small book with photocopies of those recipes and others in my mother’s writing, some of mine , too, and photos. And some of DGD’s momma’s, too. Maybe short bios of each woman; family traditions, etc.

    Judy, I am not familiar with tea cakes. Is this a southern dish? Would like to try them. If you care to put up your grandmother’s recipe for us to try, that would be great. I could Google tea cakes, but I like the idea of the connection with you, rather like an internet cousin’s grandmother’s tea cake recipe. Yeah, that’s better than the impersonal Google’d recipe.

    Although, I must say that I use Google for recipes almost daily. I dispensed with all but 2 of my books. Browsing the internet is much faster. My favorites are dated along with comments and stored in plastic sleeves in a very large notebook. Only the reallllly good recipes make it into that book.

    The internet has even changed my way of cooking. What would grandma say!

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    Darlene S says

    Judy, this post brought back memories of my mother’s recipe collection. She had a metal box with 3×5 cards to start, then she cut newspapers clippings, handwritten notes just like yours and when that box got too stuffed, she started putting papers and pages in a 3 ring binder. She wanted to publish a cookbook one day with all the recipes that she had tried. She never did, but I still have all these pages and some have notes in the margins of how she changed them, or what she substituted for something she didn’t have. Some are dated and have references to who gave it to her too. I would like to put them in some order, but alas, I do not have any children to pass them on to, so they will end up in the trash one day. Thanks for spurring on the good memories. Dar in MO

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    I remember my Grandmother making tea cakes. Problem was she had a stroke and couldn’t speak for the last 20 years of her life. And she never used a recipe. She had a big wooden bowl that she used for making biscuits, tea cakes, etc. She just put this in and that and mixed it up and made them. If yours come out good could you post the recipe? Thanks. Love your site.

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    carol c says

    i was not close at all to my deceased MIL, I have her receipe box, it is in a huge
    VCR box, full. I opened it when we cleaned out her home. I never opened it
    again. But I still have it. One day I will get the courage to open it and try something, i never have been a cook. But I am trying to begin to make something
    new each week, since DH retired and we dont eat out as much if any. SHe baked for a living so I doubt that I will find goodies I can eat, being a brittle diabetic.