By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Preserving recipes of the past for the future
Program at library brings flavor, memories
W Recipes photo
The Statesboro Library is helping people preserve their past by preserving old recipes. - photo by Special

“Thoroughly whipped cream cheese.”
“Just like my grandmother’s.”
“Peach delight.”
“Mama’s Brunswick stew.”
Phrases like the above were tossed around by participants of the Statesboro Regional Public Library’s recent genealogy program Tuesday evening. The event blended handwritten recipes of the past with an atmosphere of mouth-watering delight and treasured memories of time spent in the kitchen with loved ones.
An inaugural program initiated by new Genealogy Librarian Lillian Wingate, “Original Recipes Made to Last,” encouraged attendees to bring original copies of favorite recipes to the event to be preserved digitally on a flash drive and physically with a longer-lasting binding to prevent discoloration and smudges.
Wingate hopes to continue meeting monthly to collect and preserve many recipes, possibly compiling the collection into a cookbook and maybe securing a kitchen to try out some of the culinary treats.
“It’s part of our heritage,” Wingate said. “Family recipes passed down through generations helps fill in the generation gap. You want to preserve that heritage, that ethnicity of families. It’s part of your history.”
Brenda Ham Messer, who attended with her husband Ken Messer, brought a recipe that is part of their history as a married couple.
“I married into the Messer family in 1969, and I can’t remember a Christmas or Thanksgiving without congealed cranberry salad,” Messer said. “It’s his mom’s recipe, who’s 87 now and has dementia, and she can no longer make it. But another family member does.”
Messer also treasures another familial recipe that her mother prepared, fig preserves. “Every year after my mama died in 2000, I would call Mrs. Lena Deal and say, ‘What was that recipe again?’ She finally handwrote it for me.”
These handwritten recipes and notes in the margins of cookbooks evoke special memories, too, Wingate said.
“Recipes passed down have a distinct handwriting. We recognize that script as being a loved family member.”
Another participant, Frieda Brown a former Georgia Southern University Nutrition and Dietetics professor, also wants to pass along favorite recipes to connect generations.
“My mom was an excellent cook,” said Brown. “Recipes are a way of transferring love.  I want my children to have these recipes.
“I can remember my mother sitting in the kitchen with a fork making meringue for a pie top. There was a particular flat platter-like dish she used….I don’t even know how she kept it all in there.
“And my grandmother and aunt made biscuits right on the countertop. They put flour straight on the counter, made a well and put the milk in and mixed it with their hands. 
“You say fresh coconut cake to me and that’s my mom; that’s my dad. It takes you back.”
That’s just what Genealogy Librarian Lillian Wingate hopes to do by preserving original, handwritten recipes: reach back into the past to use a delectable recipe to conjure sweet memories, create new ones and share love from one generation to another.
Call Wingate at the Statesboro Regional Public Library at (912) 764-1340 for more information on preserving your family’s history through recipes and kitchen memories.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter