In the tattered folder I found instructions for family favorites but also unfamiliar recipes. Most were typed, or written in charmingly indecipherable shorthand.
Grandpa, I learned, had impulsively bought a farm in 1942, taking Nana from her office typewriter in Manhattan to a century-old hearth oven in upstate New York. She didn't know how to use it, or even what to make in it; she had started working so young she had never learned how to cook. But Nana was nothing if not resourceful. Still city-glamorous, she bartered makeovers for cooking lessons from farmers' wives.
My Nana died when I was seven. But her resilience became my main ingredient as I tackled my joblessness, and her enduring spirit reminded me that I was made of stronger stuff than I thought. She left me recipes for food — and food for thought.
Suzan Colón is the author of Cherries in Winter.