Like many libraries, mine has a Book Sale Room where donations and old library books go to find a new home. Every so often a donation will come in that is outside the boundaries of what we normally accept. Unable to sell them, they’re marked free with hopes someone will want them.

When I walked into the Book Sale Room in mid-July 2016, I found the above box. Inside were three accordion files and one large strawberry-covered file folder. Sure–I have a recipe box that I keep some recipes I’ve ripped out of magazines or newspapers and tossed in there to be forgotten about. But the difference with these was that they had perfect edges from scissors, handwritten notes with underlines and stars, and stains.

Someone used these.

I read through a couple in the smaller accordion file. Turning it over revealed that it came from a section of the newspaper that had the TV guide listings on the back. I hadn’t heard of many of the shows (not surprising since I don’t watch much TV), but did see the 1986 NFL Draft. And I was born in ’86… both I and the recipes turned 30 this year.


So I thought about it… trying to envision a middle-working class family. Reading the newspaper. Saving inserts. Cutting recipes. And living life.

I decided I wanted to cook through someone else’s life. See what they ate. How much they spent and just… write through food again.  I’ll share any substitutions I make, and show you any recipes I end up finding through sources that aren’t just those binders (after all, we do get a LOT of donations).

I’m excited to make recipes from donations!