Friday, January 10, 2014

Poetry Friday -- Recipe


The yellowed newspaper clipping
is attached to an index card
with brittle cellophane tape.
"Nov. 1949
Women's Day Kitchen"
is written in faded ink
at the top of the card.

Her canned tomatoes
were from the garden,
mine are from the store.
Her biscuits were made from scratch,
mine are a boxed mix.

She washed up the prep bowls
by hand,
tired after a long day's work.

Some things don't change.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

I am participating in Month of Poetry (#MoP) again this year. It is coordinated and led by Australian poet and children's author Kat Apel, a "friend in my head" (never met her in person) from the March Madness 2012 poetry tournament. The discipline of writing a poem a day for at least a semi-public audience is good practice for April. It's a healthy reminder that I have to take what I get in the 20-30 minutes of #nerdlution writing I've promised myself on a daily basis. I wrote this poem while dinner was cooking last night.

The actual recipe is in Mom's recipe box. It's a childhood favorite that I cooked for her while I was home at Christmas. I copied the recipe down (not word for word) to bring a little HOME back home.

Hamburger Cobbler
Nov. 1949 Women's Day Kitchen

1 sm onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 lb hamburger
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 lb sliced cheese
1 (cup) can drained diced tomatoes
2 T worcestershire sauce
3 T ketchup

(ingredients for homemade biscuits)
2 1/4 c Bisquick + 2/3 c milk

Sauté onion and garlic, then add hamburger and seasonings and brown. Spread in a 9x9 baking dish. Put sliced cheese on top, then the tomatoes mixed with worcestershire and ketchup. Put blops of Bisquick on top of the tomato mixture. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes.

Donna, at Mainely Write, is cooking up the Poetry Friday roundup this week.


  1. Month of poetry .. nice.
    Love the last line.

  2. I've been thinking a lot about my mom these days; you've inspired me to write about her. Thank you.

    I love the specific image of the first stanza: the yellowed newsprint, the brittle tape, the date.

  3. Your poem brought tears to my eyes, Mary Lee. Loved the contrasts. I think I ate some version of this dish, too. Hanks for sharing.

  4. I see that 'brittle cellophane tape' in my mind's eye, too, Mary Lee. And ah, the Bisquick recipes-a revelation when it arrived! Beautiful memory!

    1. Coming up with that word "cellophane" gave me a little burst of Word Choice happiness! Don't you love it when the perfect word comes to you?

    2. I'm not sure it's happened very often, but when I look, and puzzle it out, it does occur. You did it this time!

  5. Nothing quite like a recipe from home! And part of the magic of family recipes is how they morph from generation to generation... your Bisquick will be someone else's ?? Love too that you are committed to writing a poem a day during April.

  6. Mmmmmm, my kind of post! Happy to see you'll be writing and sharing more poems here. I can just see that recipe card with the clipping and tape. I grew up on Bisquick so your poem and recipe brought "home" to me too. Thanks, ML!

    1. Initially, I wasn't going to include the recipe. But I know my audience (especially you, Jama!), and I realized that inquiring minds would want to know!

  7. beautiful, Mary Lee. And yummy too. This poem made me think of one of my favorite picture books, CHERRY PIES AND LULLABIES by Lynn Reiser. If you don't know it, I think you would really like it. Happy Poetry Friday, and happy month ahead of Australian poem writing, mate!

  8. So glad you included the recipe! Those last lines are poignant - some things remain the same.

  9. This poem is delicious--full of flavor and rich images! Poems and recipes are two of my favorite things so, I really enjoyed this pairing today. Thank you for sharing a taste of home, and your life, here, Mary Lee. Happy Friday--keep cooking up these delicious poems--So full of meaning--no empty calories : )


  10. So this one made me a cry a little, as I spent the winter break going through my mom's recipe box. The one I still make is for Spanish Rice Hash from 1954. It's cut from the newspaper and taped to an index card as well, though the entire card is encased in a cellophane sleeve.
    I also enjoy the handwritten ones, but often times they come with amounts and no directions.
    Thanks for sharing this. I may just have to try your recipe!

  11. What a delicacy on this Poetry Friday - both your poem and the actual recipe. Love that you brought "HOME back home." =)

  12. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Your poem makes me think of my grandmother and her recipe box and all my memories of her kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  13. So impressed by your daily poetry writing, Mary Lee!

  14. Love your poem. It has a Billy Collins feel. I think it is the way it takes an object and describes it so simply - yet with such deep meaning. I'm not sure that's really what Collins does, it's just how I see his poetry. It's also what I love about this poem. Of course, your poem also reminds me of my grandma's recipe cards she made for me many years ago. Treasured!

    I didn't know there was a poetry challenge until I stopped by. I'm leaving now and pretending I didn't read that. Though my word is DISCOVERY, I'm pretty sure it is safe to just step away from this one. Good luck! I'll look forward to enjoying your poetry. I hope you'll share some.


  15. Thank you for sharing both the poem and the recipe. I wonder if my daughter will look back at my old recipe cards and think, "what's with all these packaged things, I'll just substitute fresh." I have a recipe I used to make when the kids were younger that called for packaged potatoes au gratin. I shudder now when I remember the cheese powder!

  16. Thank you for making me hungry. I might have to try this. Thanks for alerting me to the poetry challenge. Maybe next year.

  17. Your poem captured such strong memories--it brought me back to going through my mom's recipe box. I squirreled away a few faded index cards with her writing and found some barely decipherable ones from my grandmother too. Wonderful treasures, as is this poem.

  18. Hi there Mary Lee. This poem made me smile. I don't cook, my husband does it for us. There are a few things that do change. I hardly ever do the dishes either. :) I am grateful for things like that. :) Thanks for sharing this snapshot from the past. Very precious.

  19. Your poem made me think of my mom too, Mary Lee. This was our first Christmas without her. She was an amazing cook. With just a few ingredients, she could come up with a hearty meal for her large family.

  20. I'm new to this blog & pleased to discover it through Poetry Friday Mary Lee. The mentions, especially of "cellophane tape" & "Women's Day kitchen" are evocative for me. This is a mighty fine writing prompt you're teaching me, to riffle through those hand-written recipes many of us have, create the meal & see if a poem bakes up.

  21. Yes! The recipe cards that are so stained and faded you can hardly read them anymore, the recipes you would think for sure you'd know by heart, but you take them out anyway... just in case. Those are the ones we cherish, aren't they? I think it's wonderful that this one turned into a poem butterfly.


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