Make a Family Cookbook
4 steps to an amazing personalized gift
Proud to say, my family can cook. My brothers are all skilled & inventive in the kitchen, my dad has many specialties, and Mom's been turning out great meals for decades. [ I won't say how many, or she'll stop cooking for me ;) ] Creating a family cookbook is on my to-do list because I want to be able to tap into all that talent on a daily basis rather than calling at the last minute to pester people with "Now how did you make those apple pancakes?" It occurred to me that other family members might feel the same way. Creating a family cookbook could be an awesome personal, budget-friendly holiday gift for everyone. It doesn't seem all that difficult...
(binder: KKG via Zazzle)
1. Collect recipes
Decide on the scope for your effort (will you include recipes from just your parents and siblings? or go broader and ask aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.?). Then call or email everyone to request their favorite recipes. Be sure to give them a deadline--a couple weeks should be enough time for most to respond--and some specifics on what you're looking for.
Here's a sample email request:
I'm collecting recipes from our family and would love to include one or more of your favorites. Please email me back your recipe(s) by November 15 and include this info for each one:
~List of ingredients
~Cooking instructions, step by step, with any special tips (e.g., "cake may look underdone at first but will firm up as it sits"; "you don't have to thaw the peas first"; etc.)
~How many people the dish serves
~Roughly how long the dish takes to make: prep time and cook time
Thanks so much!
Then sit back and wait for the responses to--fingers crossed--roll in. If nobody responds, threaten to fill the book yourself with nothing but lima-bean recipes :-P
2. Print and format the recipe pages
You can cut & paste the recipe text from folks' emails into a new document using Word or another word processing program.
Or just print the email as is. (The recipes will be no less tasty with to, from, date, and email addresses on the top...and if they're bad, people will know how to reach the contributors and complain! Just kidding.)
When your pages are printed, punch each on the left margin with a 3-hole punch.
A Free (and Adorable!) Recipe Template
Putting this lens together, I searched online for an 8 1/2-by-11 sized recipe template that would pair well with binder-style family cookbooks. I found some card templates, but very few full-page designs. So I asked Kristen of Domestifluff, a fabulous blog on home cooking & crafting that also includes some topnotch graphic design, if she might take on the challenge. She agreed, and the result (above) is absolutely adorable! It's perfect not only for holiday projects but all year round. Go here to access the pdf for personal, non-commercial use. And thanks, Kristen!
3. Protect the pages (optional)
You could take the recipe pages to your local copy shop and laminate them before 3-hole-punching. Or you could just buy some standard-size, prepunched plastic sleeves. This step isn't really necessary -- some of the best recipes are splattered with chocolate, after all :-) -- but it's a nice touch if you have the time and budget.
Another "nice but not necessary" touch is tabs to separate recipe categories, such as:
mark your sections...
and protect from splatters! (it's a recipe book, after all :)
4. Bind the pages
You could have the local copy shop bind your family cookbook, but a 3-ring binder allows you to add recipes easily over time. (Your teenage niece or nephew may have no use for the kitchen right now, but in 10 years, who knows? She or he may stumble on--or create--the best 5-alarm chili recipe this side of the Pecos.)
I'm really excited about the new custom binders Zazzle is offering through a partnership with Avery. With help from my kids, who provided the artwork, I designed these binders for family cookbooks--all of which can be personalized on the back:
Number 1 has a festive look, with nontraditional colors. I personalized this for several of the kids' teachers.
Number 2 is more traditional, but still fun & playful.
Number 3 is for the family that doesn't mind making a statement.
Number 4 is for an all-desserts cookbook (mmmmmm).
Finally, number 5 is a gift for the non-cook! Collect local takeout menus and 3-hole-punch them for this binder. Way better than a junk drawer overflowing with crumpled menus. (Not that I have any, uh, personal experience with that...)
Help me decide?
Which of the above binders should I pick for my family this Christmas?
More personalized binders
I especially like binders that can be easily personalized with a name or family name, like these:
How about it--have I inspired you to put together a family cookbook? Or nudge someone else in the family to do it?