I am fortunate to have a number of heirlooms that had belonged to my Mom and my Grandmothers, but none more precious to me than recipes, written in their own hand. Many are stained from years of use, parts somewhat illegible from age. The memories that are packed into those notecards, onto the slips of paper are full of sound, sight and the aroma that filled their kitchens. If I close my eyes for just a moment I’m transported back to those joyous times.
These strong women in my life taught me to cook, to love food and understand how to bring it up from the earth with their bountiful gardens.
I began sharing this passion with my daughter Emily, starting at a very young age just as my Mom had done for me. Cooking binds us together in family, in community and in spirit long after we’ve lost those we love.
Emily also learned the joy of cooking from my Mom, spending years in the kitchen together. In doing so, these handwritten recipes passed down through generations mean a great deal to her as well. This past Christmas she gave me a gift, literally bringing me to tears.
Emily borrowed a number of these recipes and to my surprise turned them into wonderful treasures. I opened the gift box and saw my Mom’s handwritten recipe for her hot rolls, now printed on a delightful kitchen tea towel. In all, she had fashioned two recipes from my Mom and two belonging to her Mother into tea towels. (I don’t cook without a tea towel on my shoulder!) I’ve had so many people ask me how and where Emily had these made, so I asked her to fill me in on the details.
Emily discovered Spoonflower, a company based in Durham, North Carolina. It’s a wonderful online marketplace supporting the design of custom fabric. Using the resources offered by Spoonflower here is how Emily created these treasures:
She started by using the “how-to video” Spoonflower has posted on their website: https://blog.spoonflower.com/2012/07/turn-recipes-into-tea-towels/
Then she spent some time cleaning up the scan of each recipe in Photoshop, which she said made a big difference in the quality and clarity. Emily kept the prints in color (where the recipe cards had color) playing off those tones for the borders. She notes they’d also look great in black/neutral/gray tones too and would translate well in a neutral kitchen. To finish the edges of the towels, she took them to the tailor to have the edges sewn.
Other ideas she shared…It would be fun with letters, ticket stubs (do people still have those?) or kids’ art too… She also thinks you could do a more terry cloth/Turkish material and use them for a guest bath, not necessarily with recipes there! The ideas are endless and the hearts touched will be many.
Thanks Emily for a beautiful and thoughtful gift!