The Recipe Files

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When old recipes aren't just about foodI interrupt my regularly scheduled food posts to talk about cleaning out my recipe files. Don’t click away – it’s more entertaining than you think. No, this will not be a top ten list of why you should de-clutter your desk or the best way to organize your electronic and printed recipes in a snap. What it will be is a brief walk down Silicon Valley memory lane through the lens of an article written in 1986 discovered on the back side of a 26-year-old article on breakfast recipes.

As I rifled through my files of handwritten and torn-out recipes, I tried to stick to the task-at-hand – sorting the clippings by category or tossing them in the recycle bin. But occasionally I allowed myself to turn the sheet over and by chance I found a 26-year-old gem of an article.

The page was torn out of the January 12, 1986 issue of WEST magazine – the Sunday supplement to my local paper – the San Jose Mercury News. It was entitled: Sunday, Yummy Sunday (really – this is a true story). It was written by Cynthia Scheer and included several intriguing breakfast recipes such as Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes and Avocado, Cheddar, and Salsa Omelets. It had grown dog-eared and yellow, not from overuse, but from old age.

When old recipes aren't just about food

The “b-side” was an article written by Joel Kotkin, who is now a Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, California and a well know demographer, authority on trends, and frequent contributor to Inc. Magazine. His article, as near as I can tell from the half page I kept, was about predictions for the future of Silicon Valley, starting in 1986. I found #5 and #7 to be the most entertaining:

When old recipes aren't just about food

5. The valley’s lone rangers will fade away. Adam Osborne, Nolan Bushnell, Steve Jobs – the great arrogant geniuses of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s – will still be out there pushing their schemes, but to ever-smaller audiences.” He goes on to say that “smart teams” of seasoned managers such as the team at Quantum, Cypress Semiconductor, and Pyramid Technologies would be the plodding, predictable successes the valley would now consider the standard.

Well, if at first you don’t succeed, guess, guess again…

When old recipes aren't just about food

#7:  But in a garage nearby… Things are happening that could soon rid the valley of its plague of MBAs. Microcomputer industry pioneer George Morrow, for one, predicts that new chip technology – creating unprecedented storage and software power at low cost – will create a new generation of personal computers, within two to three years, that will be cheap – perhaps less than $400 – and so powerful that they’ll create another, perhaps an even more spectacular, entrepreneurial wave. The more things change…”

He was on the right track here – though the $400 price tag was not possible until just recently when tablets became mainstream thanks to the “fading lone ranger” Steve Jobs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The Recipe Files.

What treasures have you found in your old recipe files? And your answer can be about anything INCLUDING food. 🙂

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13 Responses to The Recipe Files

  1. Lisa Rae @ smacksy September 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    That is very cool. I still have recipes that I pulled out of Mademoiselle magazine in the 80’s. The advertising on the other side is fabulous.

  2. Lizthechef September 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Wonderful post – what drives me crazy is when my sweet husband offers to put all my recipes in my computer..As if I could part with my dog-eared favorites, especially those from my mom and grandmas!

    • Beth September 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Yes, there really is something about the hard copies that is just so nostalgic and full of life history. But he is really sweet to offer 🙂

  3. Hannah September 6, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Oh my, this is a gem indeed! I have a huge folder of torn out recipes to sort…you’re inspiring me to flip the folder over and read what’s on the backside of each instead! Who knows what entertainment I’ll discover. 🙂

    • Beth September 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Let me know what you find — maybe we can start a regular series called The Recipe Files!

  4. sandy corman September 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Wish I had the recipies of grandmas baking and cooking gems. Sadly I do not. I do have many cookbooks which I do not use very often. Guess i am getting old.

    • Beth September 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      I wish you had Grandma’s recipes too, believe me! You are getting old but that’s a good thing!

  5. @gregorytlee September 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    This is fantastic! Loving the reference to “fading lone ranger” Steve Jobs. Have you ever made the recipes on the reverse?

    • Beth September 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      I did not make any of the recipes specifically but it occurred to me looking at them that I have made many similar dishes over the years. And yes – don’t you love that description of Steve?

  6. Georgia Bibeau September 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    OMG – my whole house is full of these fun little surprises! As you previously remarked, I don’t own many cookbooks (I came to my marriage with 3, I think). However, my husband’s grandmother, whose house we live in, had a few more. And definitely much older. And now and again we’ll find something either stuck in a cookbook or in a wall, or under floorboards . . . you get the idea. We have a special little space for that kind of thing. Someday we’ll do something with it (in our copious spare time). I also have a pile of clipped recipes and a few years ago I organized them into folders. It took much longer than expected to organize them as I revisited old familiar recipes and a few odd/interesting “b” sides.

    • Beth September 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

      Oh I must visit your house the next time I’m in NYC to hear your walls talk :-). And the “b” sides are a little extra surprise aren’t they?

  7. Carol Sacks September 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Fun post, Beth! Need to work up the courage to look through my recipe file, now!

    • Beth September 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Do it – at our age (did I just say that?), it’s like a scrapbook of how our tastes have changed over time and you never know what other gems you might find!

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