Make Your Own Recipe Book

Posted November 18, 2010 by Geni | Comments Off

Cuisine is a very notable and important part of the culture of families, eras, cultures and locales.  Whether your comfort food is Grandma’s lasagna, your cousin’s curry or a breakfast at the restaurant t hat your great grandfather founded during the Great Depression, family meals are ingrained in us.  As many different holidays are approaching and many families will be congregating, now is a great time to start planning a recipe book that you can share with current and future relatives.

Home for Thanksgiving?  Ask your aunt what the special trick to her stuffing is.  Can your sister deliver some amazing sweets?  Figure out how she makes those darn-good no bake cookies.  How does Grandpa season the freshly butchered venison loins before he broils them as the football games are starting on Friday morning?  Not only are these delicious treats made by loved ones, but they are often backed by lots of family pride and recipes passed down from generation to generation.

A recipe book is a recipe book; a family recipe book is a lot more.  Many dishes are accompanied by stories, whether from their origination or just some funny anecdotes about a specific family meal shared many years ago.  Talking shop with your family about their recipes is a great way to unearth some fantastic stories that you can tuck away for later.

If your family is great in the kitchen, consider spending some time creating a family recipe book to share with everyone.  Not only will your loved ones appreciate the effort you put into the book itself, but they’ll enjoy sharing their stories and secrets with you and you’ll create a lasting reminder of some stories and knowledge that is very specific to your family history.

This week we asked Drew Hubbard, the author of a popular Los Angeles food blog, to share his tips and experiences in creating a family recipe book, including actually getting it published in an easy and affordable mannor:

About seven years ago, I decided to write a book of family recipes. At the time, I was as broke as I’ve even been, and I was looking for something thoughtful to give as a gift to everyone in my extended family. What I thought would be a quick, simple project turned into a truly amazing experience of reliving my entire family’s history through food. A phone call that started with, “Hey Uncle Mike. It’s Drew. You know that egg dip that you always make around holidays? Can you give me that recipe?” would invariably end up as a two-hour trip down a winding memory lane that I hadn’t thought about since I was ten years old. This exact scenario was repeated many times over as I slowly collected each recipe.

Quickly, I realized that while the recipes were, of course, important to my book, even more important were the stories that went along with each dish. Therefore, I decided to write a preface that summarized how all of the different people in my family experienced food and togetherness during mealtimes. Each recipe also got a short introduction about how and why it was significant. For example, every Halloween, most people in my family (some of us now with families of our own) prepare orange Jell-O and potato soup. The Jell-O is a result of the postwar food-convenience boom (it contains canned Mandarin oranges and canned crushed pineapple in case you were wondering), and the potato soup is an Americanized version of a common dish in eastern-Europe. It probably comes as no surprise to you that a part of my family hails from Poland and the Czech Republic. Well, it actually surprised me when I found out about the potato soup’s origins, and now I know more about my family. Isn’t that great?

I chose Cafe Press as my means of publication. It’s quick, cheap, and easy. My recipe book is still quite popular with family members, so I am occasionally asked to print more copies. Cafe Press makes it easy to respond to a request for another book by emailing a link to my Cafe Press store along with a message that says, “Order as many as you like!” If you are looking to turn a profit, you can always mark up the price by a few bucks. As for design, the no-brainer solution is a funny or memorable family photo. I picked one where we are all sitting around the dining table wearing Groucho glasses (still a classic). Finally, I recommend choosing a title that will speak to the largest number of people in your family. I chose The Kitchen Is Closed because of something my mother had a habit of shouting when all of us kids would crowd into our tiny kitchen before dinner every night. We still joke about it.

So for all of you with families full of food lovers and stay-at-home chefs, hopefully this inspires you to include a family recipe book in your genealogy bag of tricks.

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