Recipes are part of a family's heritage. Every family has
favorite recipes that have been passed from generation to
generation. Some are handwritten on recipe cards, and others are
tucked away in old, worn cookbooks that are slowly falling apart.
These treasures won't last ever, and they should be preserved for
future generations. One way to make sure these recipes live on
is to put together a collection of your own family's recipes.
Computers have made it very easy for people to accomplish this
task--and the work isn't all that hard. Your cookbook could be
as simple as 8 1/2" x 11" pages hole-punched and tied together
with yarn. There is some kind of appeal in the look and feel of
a handmade cookbook. Recipes lovingly compiled by a close friend
or relative make a very special gift.
Choose a Format
- Spiral-bound. You can set up your computer word processing
program to subdivide your pages into two columns, essentially
allowing you to view two 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" pages at a time. (You
also need to set your page orientation to "landscape.") When you
print out the pages, you can cut them in half with a paper cutter
and have the pages bound together with a plastic comb binder.
Office supply stores like Office Depot will do this for you for a
very reasonable price. I have done many of these cookbooks and
usually use colored card stock for the cover. One 8 1/2" x 11"
page of card stock cut in half creates the front and back covers.
To protect the covers, you can have them laminated, or I have
also applied clear contact paper to the card stock before cutting
it in half. This works great!
- Booklets. You can also create recipe "booklets" by subdividing
your pages in your word processing program, and then instead of
cutting them in half, lay the pages on top of the full sheet of
card stock and then fold the pages in half, creating a booklet.
You can buy fairly inexpensive staplers that will reach far
enough to staple the center of the booklet, or you can pay
someone else do it for you.
- Three-Ring Binder. Your cookbook could be as simple as
handwriting or typing your recipes on regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheets
of paper and punching holes in them to slip into a three-ring
binder. A variation of this idea is to use an inexpensive report
cover to protect your pages. I've used report covers with a
clear plastic front to show off the artwork on the title page of
the cookbook. If you have access to a color printer, you can
make a beautiful full-color title page or cover for your
cookbook. If you can't use a color printer, black and white can
look very nice also.
- Recipe Card Box. If you want to spend a little more time and
really personalize your recipes for a special person, you might
consider putting together a box of recipe cards. You can buy
pre- decorated recipe cards, all ready for you to add your
favorite recipes, or you can always use plain index cards.
Whether you take the time to decorate them or not is completely
up to you. You can spend as little or as much money as you wish
on a recipe box for your finished cards. My favorite recipe box
is made of oak and is very simple looking and sturdy. You might
also consider buying or creating your own inexpensive dividers to
separate different recipe categories.
Your cookbook of favorite family recipes is only limited to your
imagination. I have seen cookbooks of all shapes and sizes, many
with hand-drawn pictures in them. The more you personalize them
the better. Make sure to include who you got the recipes from.
I have always loved my aunt's wonderful collection of jello
salads--especially the ones with lots of fruit, cottage cheese,
and whipped cream! I love looking through my recipe cards and
going back to those jello salad recipes time and time again,
especially the recipe cards on which she wrote the recipes by
I once saw a cookbook that had copies of handwritten letters and
recipe cards photocopied onto the back cover of the cookbook--it
was very original and definitely a nice touch. One cookbook I
did for my family also had a dedication page in it that listed
all of the people whose recipes were included in the cookbook.
It was especially neat because it included my family as well as
Family cookbooks make great presents for friends and family
members. Because you can photocopy them as you need them, they
are also very inexpensive. They can be given for all different
occasions, including Mother's Day, weddings, graduations,
birthdays, and Christmas, just to name a few. Your family will
treasure them. When children grow up and move away from home,
many times their favorite recipes don't leave home with them.
What a precious gift, to put together your family's time-tested
recipes for them to take with them as they begin their new lives
and have families of their own to cook for.
If your family doesn't have a collection of favorite recipes,
it's not too late to start your own collection! When I was first
married I struggled to find recipes our family enjoyed. When I
did find recipes we prepared time and time again, I had no way to
organize my growing collection. That's when I remembered my
mother's own large collection that was tucked away in a drawer in
her kitchen. They hadn't been touched in years! And my
husband's grandmother also finally shared all of her favorite
family recipes with me. That's when I realized I had to start a
new tradition in our family and start our own family's
recipe collection. Combining my family's recipes with my
husband's, we now have a very comprehensive collection of
treasured family recipes to share with future generations. It's
never too late to start your own!
About The Author
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of
What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick
easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home
decorating, crafts, and frugal family fun, visit Creative
Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and Suite 101 at
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