Now is the time for some old recipe box research. I have looked forward to this for a long time. You might be thinking, “What have you been waiting for?”

Actually it is not “what” but who.” Since acquiring four old recipe boxes in the last year, I could hardly wait until my niece, Marcy Adams, and her husband, Roger, could come for a visit so she and I could enjoy the recipe boxes together.

When Huey and I visited Marcy and her family in Arkansas about 25 years ago, she and I would spent countless hours going through the old recipe boxes that our husbands found at antique shops, thrift stores, yard sales, etc.

When I say that we laughed when we read some of them, I certainly don’t mean this to be critical of the cook or her culinary abilities. It is important to realize that these recipes (some more than 100 years old) were not written to be shared. They were personal notes meant for the cook. You seldom find pan sizes or oven temperatures, and sometimes even some of the ingredients are left out. That’s because the cook knew all these facts.

There was a recipe for codfish cakes listing a large cup of “picked-up” fish, and later in the recipe it says to “freshen” the fish. I have no idea what this means. It also calls for a pint of buttered potatoes that have been mashed. The fish is stirred into the potatoes, “but don’t use any flour.” That’s it as far as instructions are concerned.

One of the funniest recipes we found was called California Chicken. Sounded pretty good (almost like a chicken and vegetable casserole) until it said to add a can of tuna fish (no chicken). Another unusual one is for baked beans. Doesn’t say what kind of beans or how much. It just lists other ingredients as 3 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 lb. salt pork, 2 tablespoons molasses, dessert spoon of mustard and salt.

How about a Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese and Nuts Sandwich? I could not imagine this being good, even though it was tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Reading further in the recipe, I noticed that this “filling” is spread onto crisp, hot waffles, which actually sounds tasty. Another Good Housekeeping Institute tested recipe is Tuna Fish, Banana and Pineapple Salad. Don’t think my family would like this one, no matter how I tried to change it.

I don’t advise you to try any of the above recipes. I guess this is enough time spent reading those “fun” recipes. though there are hundreds more. It’s now time to head to the kitchen for some “real” food preparation.

Marcy left some of her favorite recipes that she thought you might like. How about this Fritos Corn Salad? Sounds delicious to me.


2 cans (14.5 oz each) whole kernel corn, drained

5 green onions, diced

1/2 purple onion diced

1 bell pepper diced

2 fresh tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 avocado, peeled and diced

Bag of Fritos corn chips

In a large mixing bowl, combine corn, green onions, purple onions, bell pepper and tomatoes. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and softened cream cheese until smooth. Add Cheddar cheese and gently fold this mixture into the vegetable mixture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Just before serving, toss in the avocado and corn chips.

NOTE: This also is good with cooked diced chicken.

Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including, “Simply Southern and More.” Write her at or visit