12/1/2011 | Education


Pen-Fessional: The Value Of Handwritten Recipes

This post was written by Lydia from Understand Blue, a Pentel PEN-fessional. Lydia received no monetary compensation for this entry.

Remember when we used to write?

I don’t mean blog.

I mean WRITE, with a pen.

My grandfather filled a journal each year with daily, handwritten entries. Do people do that anymore? I keep telling myself I will, but then life gets in the way.

What is so amazing about the handwritten word is that the ink and the handwriting physically connect you to the writer. You can feel the writing process in the visual experience.

It’s a lost art we need to bring back.

What I’ve always found interesting in looking at little handwritten gems is that handwriting style appears to be genetic. Generations of my family on both sides seem to have writing styles and quirks that persist. Fascinating.

Also, my relatives appear to prefer blue ink. Or maybe blue ink used to be more common than black ink.

My mom let me scan this awesome combo of recipe and letter from her mom, and I hope it will change the way you give recipes to people.

Recipe Translation:

Bean Soup

I usually use the pinto beans – Ham bone or smoked butt or neck. Put meat or bone in large pan 3/4 full of water, cut up an onion, salt & pepper – bring to a boil & add beans & I usuall [sic] use a can of del monte stewed tomatoes, you can use just a regular can of tomatoes or a lot of ketsup [sic] – tomatoes are best. Boil until beans are done, takes about 4 or 5 hours. Gin [my mom’s name] get yourself a box of bay leaves – put just about 2 leaves in the soup – gives good flavor. If you like dice 1 or 2 potatoes & add when beans are about done (optional) – the smoked butt gives you good meat to eat along with it – Hope it all turns out.

Glad to get your letter, now tell me something – did Telghman’s or Stieff ever send your silver knife back to you? If not, I have to go on a tear looking for it – I took it at Thanksgiving time or there about – I don’t have time to write any more this AM but anxious to know how all this turns out – I will send you recipes later for a good lemon cheese pie & french bread. Love, Mama.

This has it all, doesn’t it? It’s not just a recipe – it’s a letter, a cooking lesson, a tradition, and last, but not least – intrigue about the missing silver knife! You probably had better check your drawers – who knows what some errant family member may have made off at Thanksgiving with while you were in a turkey stupor!

What a gem. You should write a recipe/letter with one of your favorite dishes and send it to a loved one, don’t you think? Who knows – fifty years later, some relative that hasn’t even been born yet will treasure it in her holographic, spaceshippy world full of seamonkeys and flying cars.

I think about my own love for pens and my preferences.

I’m one of those complete pen freaks – I have like 80 squillion pens and yet I can’t resist buying more. I prefer blue ink unless I’m drawing. I remember my first fountain pen I bought in college. Oh how I loved that thing.

Stamps: Established Elegance, Word Play Ink: Basic Black, Crumb Cake Paper: Very Vanilla, First Edition DSP


Amazing how a pen can be such a happy memory. So next time you go to share a recipe with someone, step away from the email, and pick up a pen.


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