Stirring things up


Dear Violet,

My mom was the kind of mom who cooked every night, beginning our week with a large family style Sunday dinner, filled with wonderfully delicious dishes that are now cherished and considered, by most of the family, as family heirlooms.

The issue at hand for my family is that my mom’s recipe box and binder filled with her hand made recipes has gone missing. The last known person to have the recipes was my sister in law, who said she returned it to my mom prior to my mom’s sudden passing at the beginning of 2022 due to COVID-19. The recipes are nowhere to be found and my three sisters and I (a son) are all very upset.

My youngest brother, who is the only other son, as well as the husband of the person who had the recipes last, refuses to search his house and has taken the position that if his wife said she returned the recipes, then she returned the “damn recipes.”

My father has searched his and my mom’s home, as well as all of us kids, no recipes. Oddly enough my sister in law made one of my mom’s favorite recipes for my brother’s birthday, in June, and though she claims it was “purely from memory,” it was perfectly executed. She then made my mom’s potato salad in late August at our family reunion. Again, “by memory,” and again, exactly like my mother’s recipe. I want my mother’s recipes, and my brother refuses to address this any further. What recourse do myself and my sister’s have at this point?

Missing my mother and her culinary comfort,

Hungry for my childhood

Dear Hungry,

Family memories and recipes are very important to our lives, and keep many parts of our life alive, especially when the person who created these memories has left this earth. It does seem doubtful that your sister-in-law would be able to flawlessly and without a misstep recreate several recipes of your beloved mother’s without either the original recipe, a photocopy, or a photographic memory.

If she has the book, what would be the reason for her to deny the family access, in your opinion, as this may help to solve the matter, once discussed? If she has photocopies, of even just a few recipes, I would assume she would make those available to the family, and if she had a photographic memory this would, most likely, already have been something known by her spouse, so not sure if you can address that with your sibling, directly, or not.

This should not pull your family apart, but a memory this special should bring you all together. If necessary, hire a mediator to discuss the matter, though, if your brother and his wife continues to deny they have the documents, you may have no further recourse and may have to let the matter go.

Best of luck,


Dear Violet is a relationship advice column, covering both domestic relationships and familial relationships, as well as friendships. If you have something you want to get advice about, write in and get a third party, no ax to grind perspective. Welcome to Violet’s world. Send questions, comments or concerns attention: Ask Violet c/o Gonzales Inquirer at