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Friday, September 2, 2016

Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition

Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition
A couple of months ago, I mentioned my partnership with Land O’Lakes, whose tagline is ADD A LITTLE GOOD™, which started me thinking about ways that I could bring good to others as an individual. There are all sorts of ways to bring good to others, from something as large-scale as volunteering in the community to something as simple as holding an elevator door for someone.

I decided that moving forward on a project that I've been planning in the back of my mind for years was a great place to start. I've been wanting to create a family cookbook. But when I say cookbook, I mean more than just a recipe collection. I mean a book that holds memories, photographs, history, tradition...and maybe even a few secrets. But also, recipes.

My favorite cookbooks have always been those that include a glimpse into the author's life. I love seeing photographs of the food, but including an introduction to a recipe, be it long or short is just as important to me. It's a story about the creation of the recipe. It's an anecdote about the first time you tasted it or made it for somebody else to taste. It's the setting or a memory of standing tiptoe on a stool as a child to reach your grandma's counter and peer into her mixing bowl as she worked. It's a recipe card written in your mom's familiar script displayed on the page. It's connection.
Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition
Today I want to share my thought process and ideas on how to gather, preserve, and share memories and traditions to create that perfect personal legacy that will be cherished for generations.

Gather Recipes, Memories, and Materials

Recipes (cards, scraps of paper, notebooks, saved on internet)
  • Include family favorites, holiday must-haves, special meaning (first thing you made as a kid or that your kids made). 
  • If on a recipe card, consider scanning/photocopying handwritten ones. It's fun and nostalgic to see that familiar script, and if you use it as art on a page, it adds another level of personalization.
Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition
  • Include photos of the recipes, but also go through albums to find candid shots of loved ones making or eating the food. Everyday shots are great, too. If you're doing a holiday section, there's bound to be some photos hanging around of general holiday mayhem throughout the years.
  • Ask family to look through their photos, too. Scanning and sharing couldn't be easier these days.

Stories, Quotes, Memories
  • These stories can involve a recipe, but go further and jot down notes about a meal, a get-together, or a tradition.
  • Kids say the darndest things. Write them down! The positive and the negative - both memories are bound to bring a laugh.
  • Enlist help! As family members to send you their memories and quotes of a particular meal, year, and/or recipe.
Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition
  • Choose your canvas. It could be an already formatted blank recipe book(s). It could be a notebook. It could be a binder. You could also input everything online for printing out later. This part is really individual. Right now, I'm doing it by hand, making a book to share and hand down...however...I am scanning the whole thing so that I can gift family members with a copy. Maybe your family would prefer an e-book? 
  • Computer/Printer/Scanner
  • Pens, pencils, markers, ruler, scissors, glue sticks, tape, rubber cement - depends on which method you're using.

Putting it together
Aaaah, logistics. This is the planning stage. Once you have stacks of recipes, photos, and memories, it's time to decide how you want to put all of them together.
  • Decide what sections/chapters you want your cookbook to have (by course, by holiday, alphabetical, etc). 
  • Include space for a table of contents and/or index.
  • Include a few pages for "headshots". Add photos of family members, with a name and caption that could include a recipe they are famous for making (or loving).
  • Depending on the blank book you're using, roughly estimate how many pages you have for each chapter. Be sure to include some blank note pages so that people can continue to personalize and add to the book through the years.
  • Not every chapter has to be full. New favorite recipes appear all the time. Leave space for them to be added. Make the cookbook as long or as short as you like. If you don't feel like filling each book, just start with traditional recipes or basic family favorites.
  • Combine photos (copies), quotes, and memories with each recipe. Write or type out the recipe and arrange everything else around it. Once you've got each page how you like it, make it permanent by breaking out the glue.
Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition
I think (and this was my big problem) that you can't be afraid to mess up. I'm guessing that most of your loved ones will just think a mistake here and there adds to the charm...and it will make them feel like it's okay to take their own pencil to the book once it's in their hands.

Now, I've been talking about this project as a family cookbook, since that's what I'm working on, but I think it's also a fun idea to gather a close group of friends and do the same thing! If you have a close group of friends, why not create a "friends cookbook" that is rich in food and memories connected with each individual, a couple of people together, or the group as a whole. Don't forget the photos and quotes!

I see a Friendsgiving cookbook in my future.

I think ADD A LITTLE GOOD™ is a thoughtful tagline, but I also think of it as a way of life, and it's become a personal mantra. Remember, it's the little things. How will you bring a smile to someone's face today?
Create a Family Cookbook: Recipes, History and Tradition

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Land O' Lakes, Inc. All opinions are my own. ADD A LITTLE GOOD is a trademark of Land O’Lakes, Inc.