RACHEL BELLE

Woman cooking recipes engraved on gravestones says they’re all ‘to die for’

Oct 27, 2022, 5:45 AM | Updated: 5:52 am
Photo courtesy of Rosie Grant...
Photo courtesy of Rosie Grant

You know that recipe your family requests at every holiday, potluck and birthday party? The one you’re famous for? What if you had it engraved on your tombstone? Some folks have done just that.

“I came across the first gravestone recipe, which was the grave of Naomi Miller Dawson in Brooklyn, New York,” said Rosie Grant, known on Instagram and TikTok as Ghostly Archive. “It was the ingredients to this spritz cookie that was a personal recipe for her.”

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Earlier this year, Grant started making recipes engraved on gravestones and sharing them on social media. In the case of the spritz cookie, only the ingredients were engraved, not the instructions.

“I definitely made a lot of mistakes,” Grant laughed. “I’d never heard of a spritz cookie before.”

Even when the instructions are listed, like in the case of a fudge recipe, it can still be a challenge.

“At one point on the gravestone it says ‘cook to the softball stage,'” said Grant. “I thought that meant, like, cook it to the consistency of a softball. I guess I’ll make it really tough. I don’t know what that means.”

So far, Grant has tracked down 11 gravestone recipes, mostly in the US, but there are two in Israel and one that’s cemetery adjacent.

“There’s this woman, she’s buried in Texas, and her grave says she made the best meatloaf,” said Grant. “The cemetery actually sent me her meatloaf recipe. The cemetery keeps that recipe on hand in their archives, which is so cool.”

She says all but one of the recipes are desserts and they’re all from elderly women who passed away over the last 30 years.

The project started when Grant was a library science student at the University of Maryland.

“We had to do an internship so I ended up interning at a cemetery in their digital archives area,” said Grant.

That’s when she ran across the spritz cookie recipe. Grant has since visited a few of the graves, and she always makes the dish and brings it along. Her goal is to visit all 11.

“I just got plane tickets to go to Seattle,” said Grant. “There’s one that’s like an hour south of Seattle that I’m hoping to visit around Thanksgiving. That recipe is so good, it’s a glazed blueberry pie. I’m excited to go visit that one.”

Grant has gotten a few messages from folks who think the project is inappropriate, but she’s been contacted by some of the families and they are thrilled that their relative is being remembered for the dish they were best known for. She says these recipes make it easier for people to talk about death.

“It’s a really lovely way to think about celebration rather than this really sad, horrible thing that will happen someday,” said Grant.

As for what she’d have engraved on her tombstone?

“This is my family’s favorite conversation right now,” said Grant. “I’m torn between my favorite mac and cheese recipe or I love clam pasta. Hopefully, I have a little bit of time to decide between the two of those.”

At the end of all her TikTok videos, Grant signs off by saying the recipe is “To die for.”

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal.” Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

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Woman cooking recipes engraved on gravestones says they’re all ‘to die for’