Heirloom Recipes

As we don our favorite sweater and gather with families and friends this time of year, we often enjoy our favorite dishes created from well-known family recipes. Sometimes even seeing the specific dish at the table brings back back memories of those we love. Making their recipe is one way of honoring and remembering them and also connecting with our loved ones. It’s possible that an heirloom recipe wasn’t written down, maybe it’s a family secret. Instead, the ingredients and proportions are learned through years of cooking or baking sessions with the previous generation, not only making the recipe but making memories too. If it is written down, the well-used recipe card in our relatives hand is special to us, smudges and all. Each year passes by and our relatives’ signature dish is enjoyed again and again. It’s a simple way of preserving their memory.

Every family has their own traditional recipes and one that is often on the table this time of year is “the green bean casserole.” If you and your family enjoy this casserole also, we can pay our respects to Dorcas Reilly (1926-2018). She worked for Campbell’s for over 40 years and created hundreds of recipes. The casserole is easy to make and uses ingredients that were popular in the creamy casserole dishes of the 1950s. In 1995, Campbell’s celebrated the 40th anniversary of the recipe and declared Reilly “the grandmother of the green bean casserole.” Millions have enjoyed making this recipe for nearly 70 years and also made variations on it. However, its creaminess isn’t to everyone’s taste. We all have different taste buds and traditional dishes that have been passed down to us.

As you gather with family and friends and enjoy signature dishes this season, you’ll connect with those you love through their recipes and the memories you share together. Though all our loved ones may not be with us, we still remember them and celebrate their life through making their recipes. Recipes endure through families and connect us, whether stored in memory or written in your grandmother’s hand. Some have taken this a step further and shared their signature recipe by placing it on their headstone. The recipe they were known for will always be around! We’ve gathered together some memorials that include headstones sharing recipes. Do you know of any others? Maybe you’ll try a couple of them out!


  1. I’m amazed at the beautiful stones or markers in cemeteries and appalled when I see one neglected. It’s difficult.

  2. We didn’t put a recipe on Mom’s headstone, but we did print her sugar cream pie recipe in her funeral bulletin. She was an accomplished pie-maker, and she would bring this particular pie to church events since it was the pastor’s favorite! Thank you for sharing these amazing headstone recipes!

  3. What an interesting way to “share” a recipe. I’ve never seen it before, and would definately have to take a photo if I did. Thank you for sharing!!

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