From Mildred’s Kitchen

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The Lester family in 1942 – my dad is in the middle with the dark hat
Little recipe bundle from Aunt Kay

I’ve always been fascinated by my grandmother Mildred Lester and her vintage farm house kitchen. How can I ever forget that two-inch thick dining table, her china teacup collection and Grandma serving little milk cakes with hot semi-dark chocolate sauce for dessert, each baked in individual tins?

Imagine my delight one Christmas when each household in our family received a small bundle of white index recipe cards tied with a fat red ribbon of yarn. How exciting to receive a personal culinary collection that would take us back in time to our grandmother’s kitchen!  What fun to recreate what she loved to cook for her family, menu items to be savored for a lifetime!IMG_0586

The gift was from our Aunt Katherine, our dad’s sister and Mildred’s daughter.  ‘From The Kitchen of Mildred Lester’ the top card said, decorated with an artfully drawn teapot.  The remaining cards were recipes penned in black ink with Mildred’s distinctive handwriting. I assume the recipes that made it into the collection were her favorites and many of them we knew well. The known contributors included Mildred herself, June Lester (our aunt, mother to our cousins Dean and Darrin Lester), friends Jennie Monroe and Belle Tuttle and the Boston Globe. 

The other day I pulled out the little bundle from the cupboard again. It seemed a shame to keep such a treasure hidden away. Like it always has, my grandmother’s unique cursive spoke to me of its own art form. Her n’s and u’s and m’s and w’s all look the same, like the little waves of a simple lace trim that would go well around a Peter Pan collar.

All of a sudden the creative urge to make wall paper out of her recipes hit me! But of course that would be over-the-top labor intensive. Then it occurred to me to frame a few of the cards for my kitchen wall. So I picked out a few to hang in 2 frames I already had, one black and one white.  I spray painted the white one to go with the other because black would make the handwriting really pop. I printed the cards on an off-white paper for a subtle vintage look and then created the illusion of a mat by adhering the prints to an oatmeal colored construction paper.

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The finished product
The back side of the Baked Beans recipe
The back side of the Baked Beans recipe

Before framing I cut out a wooden spoon and a whisk from a culinary themed sticker made by The Rifle Paper Co. and added them to the bottom of the recipes.FTVC4155I hung my new framed prints by the kitchen window next to the cupboard where the little recipe bundle lives. IMG_2448 (2)I like the new look as well as the constant reminder of Grandmother’s recipes waiting for me in the cupboard. What’s more, I will think of her more often as I see her handwriting every day out in the open. APZO9568Now with my constant reminder, I hope to make that milk cake with warm chocolate sauce more often and then tackle her Never Fail Meringue.  (I plan to enlist my mother’s help for that one because I remember her meringue has always been perfect!) Grandma’s card promises “This meringue acts beautifully and never gets sticky. Enjoy.”

What special family keepsake do you have tucked away in your cupboard or attic?  My friend Sharon framed a delicate lace square hand-sewn by her mother and hung it on her wall which made a sweet impression on me. Hope my little creative project inspires you in the same way. Just think of the possibilities!