What’s your best recipe that has been lost?
It could be like my banana/walnut/spice cake that I found on the internet and was promptly proclaimed by my family as the best goddamn cake ever but I lost the recipe and now can’t find it online again.
Or it could be an old family recipe that no one has a copy of. Like my grandmother’s coffee cake that everyone made from memory and now cannot remember. I’m afraid my mom’s triple chocolate bundt cake will soon follow suit.
Or it could be something you created by experimentation, didn’t write down, turned out awesome but every attempt to recreate it doesn’t quite turn out the same.
I used to have a recipe for something called colorado ice cream. All I can remember is it had coca cola and creme de cacao as flavorings.
My mom used to make a pork loin with this amazing sauce that was so good you wanted to lick the plate. It was reddish-brown and tangy and had worcestershire sauce in it – that’s all I remember. She got the recipe from the parents of her childhood best friend. A few years ago, my brother threw out all of the recipes she had saved (we’re talking hundreds, dozens of which were passed down through her family), and two years ago my mother died, so that pork loin is lost to the ages.
I made a dish of creamed chip beef that my husband absolutely loved, and I didn’t write it down. 30 years later, he still remembers that dinner, and drools about it. I think that chipped beef has changed, I remember that it was little dried slices of beef, but now it’s been chopped and formed.
My parents used to make homemade ice cream with chopped up Milky Way bars in them. I never got the recipe for it. Probably just as well.
My brother is a chef and whenever he cooks at home he just wings it. He makes the most delicious dishes but never remembers exactly what went into them. I can still remember this fabulous salad dressing - I actually licked the bowl clean. Alas, that was the one and only time I’ve had it.
I’ve been experimenting for years with jams, jellies, and the like but I make sure to write the recipes down so I can make them again. Or the good ones anyway.
I had a pull recipe booklet from a 1990’s Women’s weekly with the best /richest most enormous cheesecake recipes ever. Sadly I lost it during my mad years. never found a cheesecake recipe to match since.
I once improvised an apricot risotto from the few remaining things in the cupboard. It was delicious, but I can’t remember what I used and I’ve had no success trying to replicate it.
I am the one that has managed to keep the family recipes - including the childhood favorite apple kuchen that is not like the original german one, Marie modified it during WW2 and the family liked the changes she made so that is now the family recipe.
I also scored my Mom’s cookbook collection and the box of handwritten recipe cards, and the file folder of magazine clippings. She turned them all over to me when she realized she would never be able to cook again.
When we go visit I make the old family recipes.
My mom had a slice of peanut butter pie at a diner in the Adirondacks years and years ago. I’ve made her a dozen peanut butter pies over the years, and none of them were even close, except one. I have no idea what the recipe was for that one! She should have told me at the time, ‘this is IT!’ but didn’t say so. Only in looking back do I learn I’d hit a home run that one time.
My stepmother (the first one, back in the 1970’s) made the best spaghetti that I ever had. None since then has been as good.
Sloppy Jo recipe.
It was called barbeque and I remember it had ground beef, celery, onion, chili sauce, mustard, catsup and brown sugar.
My mom once made these turtle cookies that were incredibly labor-intensive but ridiculously delicious. They were shortbreads wrapped around one of those cube caramels, with pecans pressed into the bottom, baked, then topped with chocolate icing. I have never been able to find it, and she long since lost the recipe, probably because she got sick of making cookies that took forever.
My mother made a soup - just a sort of midwestern minestrone - that she got from her mother. We have the recipe card but it’s one of those that’s more notes-to-oneself than anything another person could follow. Even though we all saw her make it a hundred times, we haven’t been able to figure out or reconstruct the recipe.
My aunt made date cookies. Basically two shortbread cookies with date filling. I have read dozens of recipes but the thing is, I’m pretty sure she never cooked the filling and all the recipes I see have the filling cooked first. Also they all sound like a lot of trouble and I don’t feel like trying a dozen or so to find the right one. Finally, I cannot imagine that my aunt made these cookies all the time if they were a lot of trouble. And she did make them all the time. I can’t remember ever going to her house that they weren’t in the cookie jar. They were around 3" in diameter and the shortbread part was cut with one of those scalloped cookie cutters. Sigh. When I found out my cousin’s wife had my aunt’s recipe cards I got really excited but guess what? Nothing. She made them so often she didn’t write it down, I guess.
My dad pulled a collection of biscotti recipes out of a magazine twenty years ago, and made them every Christmas for a few years until he got tired of doing it. He has photocopied the recipes for me* four times *and I lose the photocopy every damned time. I guess I’m not cut out to make biscotti.
My mom makes an amazing zucchini cake/bread. I love to cook but loath baking so there was little chance the recipe would survive. Fortunately she taught my daughter how to make it and I’ll be damned if I could tell them apart. So it skipped a generation, I guess. But more importantly, I continue to enjoy it even though I don’t get to visit my mom as often as her zucchini cake deserves.
Years and years ago, I slaved over this homemade cake. Then someone didn’t bring it inside during a storm. I haven’t had access to the recipe since.
My standard method of making barbecue sauce is to combine a bunch of stuff and see what clicks. I made a great mahogany sauce once and have no idea how.
I used to have a cookbook for kids with a recipe for frosted brownies that were always a big hit at Boy Scout pot lucks.
On my first trip to Ireland a Great-Aunt taught me how to make almod shortbread cookies. These are not the true butter shortbread we think of now, more a combination of several different treatments of almonds (almond-butter, -meal, -flour, -paste, etc.) each of which brings a different flavor profile to the dish. You add just a touch of binder and sweeter and voila! The world’s best almond shortbread cookies.
I can still make them, but I’m what my friends call a “Jazz cook.”. Never write anything down and nothing comes out the same way twice.
Many years later I was reading up on Medaeval cookery and realized that recipe may well have been very old indeed. Wish to goodness I had reduced her version to writing for posterity. Alas, on my next visit I learned it was too late.
Had green icing, too, didn’t it?
My grandmother made the most amazing molasses cookies using Brer Rabbit molasses (“the GREEN label, NOT the red!!!”). She used the recipe on the bottle as a guideline, but she must have changed some of it, since my sister and I have made that recipe and the resulting cookies, while delicious, are not the same as my grandma’s. The only thing I can remember is that she omitted the ginger, since she didn’t like it.