Recipe Box

A holiday poem by Sr. Kay McMullen

I reach to the shelf for the recipe box
and take down Christmas long ago.
take down a simpler time when cakes
came from bags of flour and sugar,
tiny bottles of vanilla, scoops of cocoa,
and recipes inked on white index cards.

I take down Christmas in an olive metal box
with the floured and honeyed scars of years.
A yellowed card decorated with an angel,
and with a hand-written message, “To Kathleen Ann,
what every good cook needs,” is taped to the lid.
This is the recipe box Grandpa gave me.
It holds most of the years of my life.

“Magic Chocolate Frosting” is in Mama’s hand.
It’s dated 7-7-40- could this be
the frosting on my first birthday cake?
There are her applesauce cake and scones,
Irene’s carrot cake from a 60’s cooking class,
and cream cheese frosting I printed from the internet.
Marie Shapro’s ‘”Hello Dollies” are a souvenir of the 50’s.
The 80’s live in Gussie’s ‘”Pizza Dough and Goup.”
Squeezed between Sally Lunn’s and berry cake
are Glenda’s directions for ‘”how to clean anything
with baking soda and vinegar” – not quite as scary
as finding a recipe for white fly spray stuck
to a magazine cut-out of oatmeal muffins.
Adobo is written on yellow legal pad and
Steamed Salmon and Asparagus in Parchment
is full-color torn from Gourmet Magazine,
folded, undripped, unstLick and unused.

I reach to the shelf for the small metal box
and take down Grandpa’s gift to a little girl,
that long ago Christmas in a simpler time
when cakes and muffins come from bags of flour
and recipes were inked on small white cards.


Learn about Sr. Kay here.


  1. Love Sr. Kay’s poetry. And what a wonderful reminder of all the recipes I have on index cards from my mom, aunt and grandmother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *