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It's the season of turkeys and cranberry sauce, and the season of happiness and joy.

But, sad to say, it's also the season of the lost recipe. And, it just so happens, that is the subject for today.

November and December, you see, are the prime culinary nostalgia months. Some people are adventurous when it comes to winter holiday food -- and I salute them -- but the majority are not.

The festive food of our childhood starts to entice our salivary glands and our memories the minute the big displays of cranberries turn up in the supermarkets.

The displays of those huge foil roasters puts everything into really high gear.

Suddenly we're longing to prepare -- and eat -- the green bean casserole made with canned onion soup and onion rings that we are happy to forget about from January through October.

Suddenly we crave Jell-O salads and even those sweet potatoes with marshmallows because that's what we ate at the children's table. And we all thought we'd outgrown this stuff. Ha.

And, a lot more poignantly, we are also overcome with longing for the kind of stuffing Mom used to make -- was it really as good as we remember it? We want to prepare Aunt Susan's Pumpkin Pie.

You know what's coming next, of course: We can't find the recipe. We lent it to a friend who moved out of town, maybe; we threw it into the trash, perhaps. We lined the bird cage with the newspaper. Who knows? The darn thing is gone.

Really gone I mean. I know, because, at this time of year I get so many phone calls and e-mail requests for old-time News recipes.

As soon as I read or hear the opening line "About 25 years ago..." my heart sinks, because I know I'm probably not able to find that recipe. There's been a food department in this newspaper for close to 100 years -- not headed by me all that time, I have to say. We didn't have any good records then.

That's caused a lot of recipes to get lost.

And I feel the pain even more because -- I cannot tell a lie here -- I've lost a few old-time family recipes of my own.

What the world needs now, I think, is a better domestic recipe filing system. In my kitchen, I have three folders to help me feel efficient but the baked beet recipe I seek still turns up in the dessert envelope -- I find this out after the dinner has been prepared.

Some friends and readers do much better than I do. But, I have to say, not a lot of them. For every 10 people who shove a tattered piece of paper in a recipe drawer where it shifts to the very bottom of the pile, there may be exactly one genius who retypes the recipe into a computer. (But can they find it again? Time will tell.)

For every 20 people who print a recipe off the Internet and stick it into a cookbook only to forget which cookbook, there might be one annoying individual who puts the thing in correct alphabetic order in some beautifully crafted recipe box. Who knows?

So I'm begging. If you have a better system of filing recipes at your house, tell me about it in a postcard or an e-mail.

In the meantime I'm trying to remember how Nana made those Brandied Peaches -- they were easy; they were delicious and I've made numerous unsuccessful attempts to duplicate them.


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