Dawson-area resident Denise Ray only had to search as far as the local library to find culinary curios. During a trip to the Dawson County Library’s main campus several months ago, she found two free, weathered recipe binders that would lead her on a quaint culinary adventure.
For Ray, she had developed a natural curiosity for these kinds of collections.
“Being a reporter [for Smoke Signals], I have this innate curiosity, and I had to act on this,” she said.
The two bound photo albums had film pages under which there were adhesive parts to stick on pictures of food. That told her the assemblages weren’t recent, that they had come from someone older.
And her curiosity kept compelling her to periodically take another look and then another at the various contents.
She found scrumptious-looking recipes, such as a tomato-based casserole or jelly omelet.
Some of the old printed and handwritten recipes bore dates from the 1950s or 1960s.
Based on the amount of handwritten instructions, Ray estimated that friends, church members, relatives and others could have contributed recipes to the binders’ prior owner.
Many of the printed pages appeared to come ripped out of magazines and even newspapers, like ones from Atlanta. It wasn’t unusual for those recipe pages to have vintage ads for cigars, furniture or cheap dresses.
She said her family members were “guinea pigs” for her culinary experiments, some which went better than others. The tomato-based casserole sounded delectable, with its title ingredients as well as spinach, mushrooms and cheese. After that attempt, Ray said the recipe would likely turn out better with fresh tomatoes in the summer.
She’s also enjoyed looking at ingredients and “seeing how far we’ve come with being health-conscious.”
“Back in the 1960s, they certainly used a lot more sugar and flour,” she said.