Sunday, November 20, 2011

Family Food History

How many of you have a family cookbook? It occurred to me this might be a good idea. Sure, I’ve got the recipes I like up on the blog, and a dozen or more cookbooks on my shelves, but there’s no central place the find all the recipes my family likes to eat. If we had a family cookbook, it would be easier for my wife and kids to make the things we like, without trying to hunt down the recipes in a dozen cookbooks or the internet.

I also have a collection of the recipes used by three generations of home cooks: my mother, her mother, and her mother’s mother. A great treasure, I know. Right now they’re scattered between several index cards, old newspaper and magazine clippings. Wouldn’t it be great if they were included in the family cookbook, along with my own recipes, as well as the modifications I’ve made to some of their recipes? Can you imagine it? Four generations of home cook’s experience in one binder. It boggles my mind.

With that boggled mind, I started compiling these recipes into a book. It’s been slow going. To make it easier I’ve been using some cookbook software, but I’ve got a very old copy that will need to be replaced sometime soon. I settled on a few categories that made sense for me:

  • Appetizers
  • Salads and Dressings
  • Sandwiches
  • Soups and Stews
  • Vegetables
  • Rice, Grains and Beans
  • Pasta and Pizza
  • Eggs and Breakfast
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Breads
  • Desserts

Next, I got a large 3-ring binder and created divider cards for each category.

The next, ongoing, step is going through my blog archives and the recipes from my ancestors, entering them one at a time into my cookbook software. The software allows me to insert pictures, so I’ve been doing that where I could, as well. As I add them, I print them and put them in the notebook. To help get the rest of the family involved, I asked my oldest daughter, a growing talent in graphic arts, to design the cover.

I’m both excited and daunted by the project. It’s a kind of “family food history,” a genealogy of familial food. When I finish it, I’m planning on making a gift of it to my siblings and other relatives. I hope they like it, but it's a long way off.

How do you organize your family’s recipes?


Bartonsark said...

Well we have our family favorites in a index box with a bunch of other recipes so its always difficult to find the ones we want so I end up putting the "good" ones in the front instead of where they go. They are the recipes my kids grew up on not to mention the ones with no written recipe that I just throw this or that in til it looks or taste right. Nobody seems to be able to duplicate them....
Ps we would love a cookbook.

Mark Hansen, Dutch Oven Recipes said...

My own recipes are pretty well collected. I just blog them! I would like to have more of my mom's recipes, but it's tough to get her to write them down!

My wife's cousin compiled a collection of her mom's recipes, after her mom passed on from cancer. What a treasured memory book!

Anonymous said...

I did the same as you, entering them one by one into I love the grocery list feature, and also menu planning features. And searching for recipes that have a random ingredient in my cupboard. It was a lot of work, though... Took me about a year of lots of time!