Around this time each year, as the heat starts to subside and we start to emerge from our air conditioned homes and imagine all the gorgeous fall foliage that is probably showing up in another state somewhere, I get the bug. The fall cleaning bug, that is.
I have a huge list, and am dying to dig in. C has grown like a foot, and I need to clear out all the t-shirts that now hit him around his belly button. (No easy task - this boy doesn't like change. I will have to pry them out of his cold, iron grip. Or sneak them out while he's at school.) O has been "cleaning" her room on her own, which means piles of stuff in every corner to clear the middle so it's "clean". Wondering how many socks and half-eaten granola bars I'm going to find when we start excavation.
G actually sorted through his entire room on his own last weekend - I think because there is the possibility of hosting girls on the horizon, which meant a hasty exit for all the Legos and toy pirate ships. Which I've been instructed not to sell, but to store safely in the attic. Ah, the gray area between being a boy and being a man, right?
Anyway, also high on the list is organizing my recipes. Rather than a neatly organized recipe book, I have like a recipe corner, piled high with printouts, random checkout line crock pot and casserole paperbacks, ripped out magazine pages, and, at the bottom of the pile, my actual recipe book. I have very little counter space in my 80's era mauve kitchen, and need to consolidate the culinary mess.
Blech, boring. No fun at all. And what if one of these emerges as a family favorite? Which a couple of them have, by the way.
Imagine me, 40 years from now, passing down family heirlooms to the kids. Oh here, honey, it's our family recipe from Aunt Marci, the guacamole recipe that we had every Christmas Eve, and at all our tailgates...printed out from when she emailed it to me 50 years ago. Look! It's my old email address.
These are two of the recipes in my recipe book right now. On the top is my mom's Neopolitan Spaghetti. Want to win over a man? Make this. Her son and sons in law beg for it. It's a family classic. And I have the recipe, in her handwriting, with grease stains from the ground beef. Do you have any idea how much this means to me?
Below that is a recipe my mother gave me that belonged to her mother, my Nana. I've never used it. My memories of my Nana are few, and very fuzzy. She passed when I was very young - but I do have vivid memories of running out with her into hailstorms and catching hail in our mouths. I think it was at her home in Texas. And here I have her Pumpkin Cake recipe, in her handwriting, in my recipe book. A way to keep those memories alive, every time I flip through to find my Christmas cookie recipes.
So daunting as the task may be, I'm going to organize all those printouts, and as the family faves emerge, I'm going to write them down on recipe cards and keep them in my book. And pull them out when I want to use them. Get my doughy fingerprints and greasy spots all over them.
I worry about this in so many areas of our life these days. We went 100% digital with our photos when Olivia was born, and our computer crashed and we lost them. Everything, for the first three years of her life. We keep that drive in a baggie, in hopes that one day we can send it off to the Apple Gods and spend a fortune having them restored. Thank god I printed out the photos of her birth - but it's easily been 8 years since I printed out a full set of photos. Just the odd one here and there, for a frame or a head shot. I pulled out all my old photos the other day (more fall cleaning), and the kids have had more fun pouring through them, looking at when Mom and Dad were first married and when Griffin and Connor were babies. There's just something about the physical photograph, as opposed to flipping through them on your iPhone or iPad.
Our digital age is so fantastic in so many ways. Look at me, sitting here blogging, and loving having this medium as a way to express myself. So many things about technology that we appreciate and value. But it's so hard not to leave the old technology in the dust. And with it, some precious memories.
I can assure you - a scan of my mom's Neopolitan Spaghetti recipe would never mean nearly as much to me as the real recipe, sitting in my recipe book, getting lovingly pulled out and used on Larry's birthday every year. You can't scan that.
Neopolitan Spaghetti (go ahead and put this one on a card...your fam will love it instantly.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can mushrooms
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 T. chili powder
1 package spaghetti
Fry bacon in two pans until crisp. Drain and keep grease in the pan (hence the reason this recipe is so good). In one pan, cook the beef with salt, pepper, chili powder and mushrooms. Cook until done. In the other pan, cook onion and pepper until soft. Cook spaghetti separately and drain. Mix skillets, add tomatoes, and let simmer for 30 minutes. At serving time, add spaghetti and crumble in all the bacon.