You probably have dozens of family albums, possibly even scrapbooks. But photos are just one way of telling your family’s story. Why not put together a family heritage cookbook? Compile your family’s recipes, and the stories and personalities behind them. Decades from now, your children, and your children’s children, will cook those meals and remember the people who made them. Surely that means more than a recipe they downloaded from the Internet! Here are some tips for assembling a family heritage cookbook.
The first thing you need to do to make a family heritage cookbook is to send an email blast to your relatives. Ask them to share one of their signature dishes: your grandmother’s apple pie, your cousin’s pot roast, your Aunt Freida’s fried chicken and gravy. You can also ask them to share any recipes that were passed on to them from older generations, or have special significance to them and their life story. For example, your mother may want to share a recipe that your grandmother used to make her wedding cake. Or your sister may want to include an authentic Greek dish she learned while taking her masters in Europe.
Ask relatives to send photos and a short anecdote on the recipe. They may want to share an anecdote on the actual dish (‘This is the first dish
I learned to cook by myself after I moved out’) or any memory of cooking and eating together a family (‘My mother would make these chocolate chip cookies during the summer, and my sister and I would eat the extra batter while waiting for them to bake.’)
To simplify matters, make a standard recipe format like a fill in the blank recipe form and standard questions like the name of the recipe, the person who contributed it, the person who originally made the recipe (if he got it from someone else), history, ingredients and amounts, instructions, preparation and cooking time, number of servings, extra tips or advice for cooking the dish.
If your family members don’t actually measure ingredients you can have someone observe them while they make the dish in order to approximate exactly what they mean by ‘a little bit of this’ and ‘a pinch of that’ and translate into measurements.
To make it easier for people to send photos (and for you to organize them) set up a photo sharing account in Flickr or a similar website. (Read our article on other creative ways to use food shots.)
Set a deadline, too. It helps if you motivate them with a specific project: ‘I’d like to print this in time for Christmas so everyone has a copy for the holidays’ or ‘It’s our surprise for Grandma!’
Photo by zazzle.com