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Recipe Cards

by Ted Weinstein

When I was growing up, my mom was the best cook in the neighborhood. She came from a family that loved to cook, but she said she got really good as an adult because she felt the freedom to experiment:  my father would eat anything that was put in front of him at dinner. Afterward he might say "let's not have that again," but the plate would be clean.

She collected cookbooks, tore recipes out of newspapers and magazines, traded recipes with friends and family, and copied ideas off the cans and boxes of packaged foods. Combined with her decorating, table-setting and other homemaking enthusiasms she was almost a proto-Martha Stewart.

We were living in California when the first personal computers hit the market in the late 1970s. Surrounded in the kitchen by file boxes of recipe cards and shelves groaning under the weight of cookbooks, my mom decided she wanted a computer to hold all her recipes. In her imagination, if she had "a half a cup of buttermilk in the fridge" she would be able to look up all her recipes that could use it up. I was a budding computer nerd during those high school years and was all ready to write a recipe program in BASIC. It was dad, though, who brought us back to reality when he pointed out "How are you going to get all those recipes into the computer — hold the cards up against the screen?"

So her recipe collection continued to grow, but only on paper and index cards. Decades later and other Web sites have digitized and data-based their own archives, so in theory my mom now could look up ideas for what to do with that half a cup of buttermilk. But to this day she still doesn't use a computer, and of course none of those sites have her full collection of recipes nor the handwritten notes and adjustments they accumulated over the years.

Now living alone in her '70s, my mom cooks a limited repertoire of dishes, most of which she knows by memory. When I asked if she would send some of her old recipe cards for this issue of Lost, her first comment was how hard it would be to reach to the top of her kitchen cabinets, where those file boxes are languishing and gathering dust. She pulled out the step stool, though, and sent a few recipes along. Maybe you'll bring them back to life and make your own notes and adjustments.

Oriental Chicken Salad

3 ½ cups chicken, shredded
1 ½ cups finely sliced lettuce
1 bunch cilantro, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup peanuts or almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons soya
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons salad oil (peanut or corn)

Bake chicken with:

2 tablespoons soya
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon white wine
1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon ginger

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Can add saifun noodles.

Delmarva Baked Chicken Royal

2 cut-up broiler-fryers
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons white wine
3 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
1 can mushrooms

Arrange chicken in roasting pan. Let butter melt, add wine, honey, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix and brush over chicken pieces - use all. Spread one can cut-up mushrooms over chicken and bake in preheated 350 degree oven one hour. Baste occasionally, garnish with paprika and more parsley.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 pound chopped lamb meat
50 vine leaves
½ cup rice
2 chopped onions
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped parsley and anise (or dill)
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Lemon sauce:

3 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper

Combine meat, rice, parsley and anise, pepper, salt and onions. Stuff leaves shiny side out. Allow rice to puff — roll loosely. Place leaf balls side-by-side in layers in covered pot. Add two cups water or broth, butter and salt. Press down with plate and simmer 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve hot with lemon sauce:

Beat eggs, add cornstarch diluted with a little water. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook sauce separately in small saucepan, stirring constantly for a few minutes until sauce thickens. Carefully serve grape leaves on platter and pour sauce on top.

Butterfly (Leg of) Lamb


¾ cup vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
3 peppercorns
Salt and pepper
Small can tomato sauce
¾ cup water
1 bay leaf, crumbled

Combine all ingredients and marinate lamb overnight. Remove from marinade, reserving extra. Wrap lamb in foil. Barbeque 20 minutes, brush with sauce, rewrap and turn over — cook 20 minutes more.



Ted Weinstein is a literary agent and photographer who lives and cooks in San Francisco.

Articles in this Issue

Introduction, by the Editors
Monkey Head Soup, by Charles Lindsay
Barbarians at the Hotel Bar, by Edward Chupack
Desert Survival, by Craig Childs
A La Recherché du Cheese Perdu, by Brenda Peterson
Heaven on the Half Shell, by Andrew Beahrs
A Hog Butchering, by Thorpe Moeckel
Lamb Shanks Roasted in Paper, by One Ring Zero
Lemon Meringue Pie, by Alan Huffman
Making Sajur Lodeh, by Julie Lauterbach-Colby
Lost Meals, by Phil Buehler
It's Seaweed Weather!, by Wendy Noritake
The Ingot, by Edward Hardy
My All-American Bacchanal's Deep-Fried Remains, by Nick Kolakowski
The Last Supper, by Susan Buttenwieser
The Spoils Room, by T. D.
A Taste for Tonka, by Ramin Ganeshram
Recipe Cards, by Ted Weinstein