Old recipes, old friends

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 8, 2022

When needing a new recipe, do you rush to the computer to find a dish you want to create for dinner? In the busyness of today’s world, the computer is the easy, rapid resource for finding a quick recipe, for researching a challenging topic, or for sending a short note bypassing the post office. But too often it has replaced friendships. Friendships take time that we often don’t have in today’s harried world.


Linda: But there was a time, when life was cozier, friendlier, a time when everyday needs and answers were often supplied by friends, neighbors, and family. When I look up on my pantry shelf, staring at the many cookbooks stacked against each other, I often turn to my old recipe box to find a forgotten recipe. But the best part about an old recipe box is the hidden treasure of memories that spring from the often faded, spattered cards and magazine cuttings, tucked away for all the years since I was a young mother and cook.

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Lucy: I know exactly what you’re talking about. We moved from city to city during my husband’s career changes. Wherever we lived, I made new friends. We always exchanged favorite recipes, usually printed on a colorful recipe card that carried the donor’s name. Over the many years I have lost touch with some of these friendly cooks, but I still have the cards to remind me of times we spent together. 


Linda: I have two from a high school friend, Mary Jo. She became my dental hygienist, married, and lived in a big old Victorian style house with an oversized kitchen. We would enjoy cookies and tea while our toddlers ran around finding toys and knocking down block towers. I no longer know of her whereabouts but she comes to mind when I dig out her carrot cake recipe and an unusual version for chocolate chip cookies. 


Lucy: I have a long ago recipe from a fellow nurse, Jane. After marrying, we lived in Glens Falls, NY. It was 1964 and Jane and I were RNs at the local hospital. We were both just learning to cook and needed easy recipes. Her Chicken Caliente is still a favorite and I always remember our days at the hospital when I serve this simple to prepare, tasty meal.


Linda: Since you and I were never living in the same place over the years, we often shared recipes by mail. Many of my quaint cards have your name on them and are written in your handwriting. Sometimes I find a letter from you mixed in with the recipe. Rereading the letter can be as sentimental as finding the recipe. I recently came across one called “Poorman’s Cake”. I don’t remember making it but it looks easy and delicious. And your Skillet Rice Salad was often the perfect accompaniment for grilled steak on a hot summer’s night.


Lucy: Living in Tampa, I had two friends named Pat. My neighbor, Pat, and I both enjoyed cooking and sharing recipes. She grew up in Alabama. Her delicious, southern cheese straws were always a favorite at our luncheons. I started making her Rice Krispie cookies when my children were in school. Now they’re a favorite of my grandchildren.


Linda: My oldest card is from another mother. We shared a hospital room when our first babies were born. We kept in touch and would often call upon each other for advice on caring for our babies. I remember Ellyn invited us to dinner and served stuffed baked potatoes. They were something new back in the early 60’s. Her card describes the recipe for what she called “The Potatoes”. 


Lucy: In Tampa, I was a master gardener. Another Pat and I shared gardening tips as well as recipes. We often gave gardening talks together, plus we were tennis partners. Sadly, I lost Pat a year ago when she suddenly became ill. Whenever I make her special blueberry pie, I remember all the good times we enjoyed together.


Linda: Hidden in my box is an old brochure from the Plainville Turkey Farm, located on Hwy 11 outside Syracuse. Our mother would take us to Syracuse to see the Ice Capades or Ice Follies. Stopping there for turkey dinner was a treat on the way home. Next I discover a scrap of paper with a recipe scrawled on it for Sangria. It brings to mind some long forgotten cronies, a warm, spring evening get together, and Sangria served with fondue. 


Lucy: Lets offer a couple of our recipes today for readers to add to their collections. Then in our next column, we could provide a few more of these treasures that we have saved over these many years. Maybe our readers will dig out their own battered recipe boxes and take a trip down memory lane.


Jane’s Chicken Caliente

Oven 350


2 lb Chicken

2  10 ¾ cans Cream of Chicken Soup

1 4oz can green chilis

4 TBS chopped pimento

4 TBS chopped onion

2 TBS chili powder

12 corn tortillas

1 ½ cup shredded cheddar



Boil chicken in salted water until tender. Cool; drain and reserve broth. Remove chicken from bones; cut into small pieces. Place soup plus one soup can of reserved broth, chilies, pimentos, onions, and chili powder in sauce pan. Simmer 15 minutes and add chicken. Mix well. Place layer of tortillas in casserole; add layer of chicken mixture; repeat layers. Top with grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes.


Mary Jo’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oven 350


1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening (Crisco)

1 tsp salt

1 ½ -3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup milk

4 cups sifted flour

1 cup chocolate chips (regular or mini size)



Cream sugar and shortening. Add vanilla, eggs, and milk. Combine dry 

ingredients and add to mixture. Add chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful on cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes. Frost with thin confectioners icing (dip top of cookie in icing)