Barbara McClellan

Do you have a recipe box? No, I do not mean a shoebox filled with recipes, but an authentic metal box, maybe with “Recipes” on the outside.

They were made to hold 3-by-5-inch index cards. Let me guess: If your age is 50 years or less, probably not. If you are 60 to 70 years of age, the chances are better. However, if you are fortunate enough to be 70 or above, it’s a pretty sure thing you have, or have had a box of recipes.

In the “old” days, a popular shower for a bride was a “recipe shower,” to which one would bring a favorite recipe with some of the ingredients (or maybe all), and sometimes even the dish or pan for the bride to use in her new kitchen. I guess somewhere this might still be done, but with all the registering for desired or needed gifts with “destination weddings” and bridesmaid or groomsmen parties on islands, cruises or ski trips, a poor little recipe box would pale in the light of these glamorous events. Besides. I fear that a whole generation (or two) might not know what an index card might be or where to get one.

Back to our treasured (by some of us) recipe boxes. While looking for a particular recipe and thumbing through my three recipe boxes, I am trying not to fret over the two to three hours I spent looking through these boxes, holding and looking at all the recipes and the memories they brought. The ones I particularly treasure are the ones written in the actual handwriting of the person who gave me the recipe, many as much as 50 to 60 years ago. Some, probably most, did not have names on them, but in some cases I recognized the handwriting or remembered the occasion on which we were served the recipe.

I found a recipe for brownies from the dessert box I am sharing with you today, a bit different from the original recipe in the “Better Homes and Gardens” (red checkered) cookbook from which the recipe came.



2 (1 ounce) squares of unsweetened) chocolate or 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix, by hand, butter and sugar until creamy (If using chocolate squares, melt and mix with butter and sugar). Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and flour, which has been mixed with cocoa powder (if using powder). Stir in nuts. Pour into a spray or greased 8-by-8-inch pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes (or longer if you like firmer brownies.)

I grew up, perhaps as many of you, eating wholesome, homegrown meals. But compared to today’s way we eat, those great meals probably were not “exciting” or exotic. The following recipe is one of the more unusual things we had.

Chinese Chicken Casserole


2 cups diced cooked chicken

1 cup finely diced celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter

1 can cream of mushroom soup

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Dash Tabasco

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 can (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained


1 cup chow mein noodles

1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts


Sauté celery and onions in butter. Add soup, broth, seasonings and chicken. Stir in water chestnuts and mushrooms. Mix and pour into a greased or sprayed 2-quart casserole Top with chow mein noodles and cashews. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Makes 6 servings.

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— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.