what would you take?
But the one thing I would definitely take is my recipe book.
You see, my life is contained in the small photograph album stuffed to overflowing with paper.
My mom made me my recipe book as a leaving home present. She got one of those photo albums that hold a picture on the top page and bottom page in a clear plastic sleeve. She went through her recipe book (made for her by her mom, my nanna) and copied out some of the favorite family recipes: Nanna's peanut butter crinkle cookies, the Koyl chocolate cake (eaten at countless family gatherings and my brother's favorite birthday cake), a bread recipe I'd given her back when I was learning to bake. She filled the empty slots with more recipe cards. I quickly filled a number of those cards in an excited frenzy, delighted to be cooking for my newly launched self and the friends that came to share my table.
Years later, the book is stuffed with bits and pieces of paper holding various recipes. But the recipes are really incidental; these papers hold my memories. The recipe for corned beef hash, very carefully set out in my dad's notoriously unreadable handwriting. We have had corned beef hash, made by my dad, as Christmas breakfast for as far back as I can remember. My handwriting setting out how to make hot roast beef sandwiches, scribbled on a bit of a telephone pad as I jotted down the instructions from a long distance telelphone call made to my mom. A recipe for scones in the hand of an old boyfriend. My recipe for brownies, brought home from a year spent living in New Zealand. The recipe for Wendy Anthony's famous cookies (secret ingredient: almond essence). Arising out of a discussion about drinks held in the university student lounge, a recipe for Chai scratched on the back of a bank receipt by a friend who had recently returned from spending a year in India (she included the hindi script for chai at the top of the recipe). My best friend's recipe for carrot cake. I've never made that recipe, but it reminds me of her wedding where I was her maid of honour at an outdoor wedding in the freezing cold of early March - they had carrot cake as their wedding cake. A sheet of paper in my mom's handwriting describing how to can peaches. My sister in law's recipe for granola, given to me the summer after she married my brother and requested because of a lovely breakfast spent out on their garden deck eating granola, yoghurt and blueberries harvested from their bushes.
The recipes help me cook the food,but they are far more than mere tools. The handwriting, the memories the recipes invoke: they are the pictures of my soul.