Create A Family Cookbook: An Interactive Heirloom
Building Family Memories One Recipe At A Time
"Hey, Aunt Lynn! What are some good recipes to make with a bag of boneless chicken breasts?" My brother's oldest son asked me this on Christmas Eve, explaining that the only thing he could think of was dousing a piece of chicken with teriyaki sauce, baking it and then eating it with lots of rice -- because whenever he makes rice the pan overflows. Quality and quantity issues were both in need of a solution.
My three sons and their male cousins stride toward independence, moving into their own apartments and foraging for their own meals. To their credit the lure of fast food and frozen food aisles dimmed quickly, and as coming home to dinner is not always an option they are trying their hands at some home-cooked meals. Often I get a text or a call asking from one of them how to make this dish or that dish. Up to Christmas Eve I have just reacted.
I own the rights to this photo of hungry boys -- er. young men!
Nephew Harry's request niggled at me for the last few days until I had an epiphany yesterday afternoon. Probably a lot later than many of you I thought, "Why don't I put some favorite recipes on a Google Doc and share them with the boys?" I use Google Docs all the time when writing and sharing information with colleagues and clients. It seems like the perfect platform for a cookbook filled with family
I have a couple of ideas to make this a bit more than just a cookbook. Right now read on and see where this family cookbook journey started.
Here Are The Recipes We Have Included So Far - Kid Tested -- Husband Approved --Even The Inlaws Ask For More!
Some of the Family Recipes are showing up as their own lenses! Visit a few and let us know what you think. Give us some ideas on what your family enjoys. Lets make sure everyone has something on the table they love to eat!
- Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic Butter, Cheddar, Bacon and Green Onions
Great side dish -- naturally gluten free
- Homemade Juicy Lucys
The Juicy / Jucy Lucy Cheeseburger is a local legend --make it at home and become a legend in your own family.
- Easy Homemade French Fries
Got 35 minutes? Then you can have fresh, hot, crispy french fries, hand cut and homemade.
- Comforting French Onion Soup
Savory, warming and delicious, this is the ultimate homemade French onion soup.
- Easy Chocolate Silk Pie -- With Fabulous Decorating Options
Dreamy French Silk style pie, gluten free.
- Creamy Tomato Soup with Bonus Sandwich and Cheese Stick Recipes
Creamy, full-flavored homemade tomato soup made from items you probably have on hand right now. A meal when paired with a ham and cheese melt or gluten free cheese sticks.
- Creamy Classic Potato Salad
Traditional picnic potato salad -- creamy and tinted pastel yellow with mustard. Great with fried chicken or burgers.
- Cheesy Bread Sticks
Gluten free and cheesy bread sticks to enjoy with dips and sauces. Make a batch and have at the ready when you serve salads, soups and stews. Great with chili.
- Chicken Piccata -- Gluten Free With 110% Flavor
Deliciously piquant and easier than you think. Probably my personal favorite.
- Leaping Frog Chicken -- Grill Magic
Deliciously moist and flavorful -- and a conversation piece.
- Red, White and Blue Semifreddo -- No Churn Ice Cream
No need for the ice cream maker to create a creamy dessrt sure to please.
- Zesty Lemon Fried Chicken -- Silver Palate Style With Gluten Free Option
Pan fried chicken finished in the oven with the fresh zip of lemon and a "secret" ingredient.
- Ladies Lunch -- Chicken Berry Salad With Creamy Lemon Dressing
Now, the boys might not be all over this, but mom and the aunties like it.
An Online Cookbook Not Your Thing? - Take a look at some of these options for Family Cookbooks you can hold in your hands -- and even turn the pages!
Although I like this option of doing a cookbook online (and linking to Squidoo) there is something to be said about paging through a cookbook. Here are some ideas for creating a traditional family cookbook and memoir.
This is an easy way to create a personal cookbook with a lot of flexibility. The three ring binder option allows easy additions and reorganizations.
Software with tons of options including nutritional analyses and a whole menu of ways to share and collect recipes.
Here are some of the people who eat my food! Not ALL boy food -- there will be some girl favs in the cookbook, too. - All pictures taken by and belonging to me.Click thumbnail to view full-size
What's For Dinner?
The "Daughter" Years
Back in the 1950s through early 1970s when I was growing up there really was no option to someone cooking the daily dinner for the family. My mom, dad, little brother and I munched through the typical mid-20th century menus. Meatloaf and Swiss steak. Baked chicken. Spaghetti made from the Kraft box mix -- pretty exotic at the time. Once in a great while we had takeout from a Chinese restaurant and the occasional pizza when mom and dad played bridge with friends or went to a party.
My mom worked during the school year so a lot of the time these meals were thrown together as she walked in the door late in the afternoon.She also liked things pretty plain -- no sauces or seasonings other than salt and pepper. I was interested in cooking and did a lot of prep work on the weekends and at holiday times -- peeling potatoes and carrots and learning how to make gravy at the tender age of about nine. Once I mastered gravy I began to start dinner for the family when I got home from school.
Usually I just followed the straightforward techniques of plopping chicken parts in a pan to go into the oven and rolling a few baking potatoes onto the oven rack after pricking them to let steam escape. My dad generally hated casseroles or hot dishes as we call them here in Minnesota. An exception was a ground beef, tomato soup, corn and elbow macaroni concoction that he called goulash. He also would put up with a rice and ground meat dish that mom made with tons of soy sauce and cream of mushroom soup, served always with iceberg lettuce in a homemade vinaigrette we just called Grandma's dressing.
Just like Mom's Classic Casserole Dish - The Original Multitasker
Mom scooped dad's goulash or her rice hot dish in here before baking. This dish was also used for the other meal in a dish dad would approve -- scalloped potatoes and ham.
I still have the one mom used. A one bowl wonder, she would mix all the ingredients in this and slide it into the oven.
Pretty and practical -- it is nice to have two sizes when you are not sure who is coming for dinner.
When my mother's mother would include a green salad on the table, this was the only dressing provided -- and the salad was tossed with it before the bowl got to the table. It was also a quick marinade for sliced cucumbers out of the garden in the summer. I know it flips the usual proportions of oil and vinegar, but my boys love the sour taste as do I.
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 35 min
- Yields: 12
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup oil (your choice -- olive oil is healthier, but I use canola, too)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- several grinds of the pepper mill
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or agave
- a couple shakes of hot pepper sauce
- Optional -- a teaspoon of finely minced onion
- Combine in a jar and shake.
- Put in the refrigerator for at least half an hour to meld flavors.
- Just before adding to salad, shake again.
- Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator.
An Elegant Vinaigrette Cruet - Much more refined than a jelly jar -- Grandma would approve
Although Grandma more often than not just mixed this dressing up in a jar or metal shaker, she loved glass dinnerware accessories and would have loved serving her dressing in this cruet.
Use proudly at the table and store securely in the refrigerator.
This is what I use now -- mixes the dressing easily and stores in a snap.
This could make dressing or a slurry for that gravy everyone is clamoring for.
Rebel In The Kitchen
My Pre-Teen and Teen Aged Cooking Rebellion
Did I mention I came of age -- and cooking age -- in the "question authority" 1960s? Once I was given some free rein in the kitchen salt and pepper moved over for a few new spices and I had some fun experimenting on my family. In the beginning my trusty Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls was at my elbow, and my parents and brother enjoyed fairly benign cookies and fudge. I then took on some forays into more highly seasoned main dishes like lasagna and beef stroganoff. This was cutting edge cuisine for my family.
One Christmas I asked for a copy of The Joy of Cooking and never looked back. I am sure many of my culinary escapades were more than a little hard to swallow, but my family knew I was onto something. Once I graduated from high school and went off to college my parents and brother may have retreated to baked chicken and pot roast, but they also had added some trendy dishes like beef fondue to the rotation. When I came home from school I would try out some new dishes as well.
A treasured blast from the past available at Amazon - Perfect for boys or girls -- test cooking done by kids themselves
When I received this cookbook in the 1960s I read it from cover to cover just as I do with cookbooks I buy and receive today.
I still have my copy from the 1960s, a little tattered and splattered, full of kid-friendly ideas for budding cooks.
The Joy Continues - A comprehensive source for everyone from the novice to the professional cook.
I loved my paperback copy of The Joy of Cooking to death -- literally. It fell apart after years of use, but I inherited my aunt's hardcover edition which I still turn to frequently.
Try this new format with cooking tips for the way we live and eat today.
A Person Could Make A Living Doing This
Cooking Escapades In My 20s
While pursuing my law degree I was looking for a part-time job to round out the clerkship I had with OSHA and the researching gig I had with a professor. I found a married couple who were looking for some housecleaning help and dinner on the table five nights a week. For a couple of years I tidied up and cooked for them, using the trendy cookbook of the late 70s, The New York Times: 60 Minute Gourmet. When I graduated their gift was a Cuisinart that I still use today.
I also spent about 18 months working as a cook in a theater/bar/bistro specializing in French rustic food. The Les Halles onion and potato dill soup I made daily are often served in my home, and the occasional evening I filled in as a bartender/barista gave me espresso drink making skills long before there was a coffee shop on every corner -- and the ability to make the sticky sweet tequila drinks popular in the disco age. Guess which skill I still use?
This was the time when I began reading cookbooks and food magazines like novels. I still do and I gather much inspiration from this practice. The newspaper's food section is the first page I turn to and I always get at least one cookbook per holiday. With four men who willingly eat whatever I put in front of them I can push the envelope far beyond my mother's baked chicken.
The Quick Cuisine Standard of the 1980s - French cooking in a (relative) hurry
This was the cookbook everyone had to include in their collection. Mine is still on the shelf ready for action.
This is the one that earned me my Cuisinart.
Additional recipes that are fresh and delicious, and relatively quick to put on the table.
From Emerging Gourmet To Mommy
Hot Dogs Are For Weinies
Now do not get me wrong. Once my husband and I began our family in the 1990s more than one meal of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese was eaten. But my family also has enjoyed more sophisticated fare, and I pride myself on cooking almost everything from scratch. My husband, three sons and the rest of the family flatter me with compliments about my cooking skills and I have immersed myself in providing delicious and nutritious food for them -- sometimes at the same time.
My cooking background stretches back to my youth, and my enthusiasm for creating tasty and memorable meals continues. I would say it is about time I got down to sharing the best with my precious boys and other family members. We will see if a simple Google Doc provides the proper platform, and I have some glimmers of including a bit more than recipes. Sharing the means to provide a good meal with family is a beginning. Experiencing the making and eating is an additional jumping off point to embrace what breaking bread together over the years means to us all -- wish us luck as we attempt to capture all the magic.