Family recipes can be treasured heirlooms, a tangible link to the past that can be relived over and over again at family dinners and holiday celebrations.
The Kentucky Room at the Daviess County Public Library is collecting original family recipes through April to preserve the history they represent.
“It’s kind of a taste of Daviess County, a way to combine the different cultures and the different families that live here and to get to know other people in a different way through their food,” said Heather Ramsay, library staffer.
About eight prescriptions have been submitted so far. When someone submits a recipe, they are asked to answer a few questions about the provenance of the recipe, and the library will make a photocopy of the original recipe card. The original handwritten recipe does not have to be donated to the library to participate.
Ramsay said the recipes will be a great addition to the Kentucky Room’s archives.
“Everyone eats, and they pass the recipes down through the generations,” she said.
Copies of the recipes are available to library patrons, with current selections ranging from a classic meatloaf to baked banana cream pie and matzo ball soup.
While certain recipes are identifiable with a specific time period, like the Jell-O salads served on American dining tables in the 1960s, Ramsay has said the library does not yet have such a time-specific recipe.
“They were all pretty timeless,” she said. “As I searched and researched this program online, I saw many places that used lard then and don’t now.”
Ramsay said that while some people have been happy to contribute a recipe to the project, there are some who remain off-limits.
“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I’m going to give you this recipe, but this other one was my great-grandmother, so it has to stay in the family,'” Ramsay said. “I understand that, that’s perfectly fine.”
While the idea of publishing a cookbook of the compiled recipes was being discussed, Ramsay said no decision had been made.
“At this point, the idea is to share original family recipes to show what life is like here and what life was like here, and one way of doing that is through food,” she said.