Friday, September 10, 2010

My Custom Family Cookbook

A special gift...Christmas is just around the corner you know.

A few years ago, I had the idea to make a family cookbook. It came about because I was tired of bothering my family every time I needed a recipe. It ended up being a treasured gift that I will refer to for years to come. Really, I had felt deprived that my mother never passed down her gift of cooking to me and I was determined to make sure that my children had the tools to carry on the traditions and memories of our family.
I decided I wanted the book done for Christmas, and I would give one to all of the adult members of my family. That was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 books!

I knew that pictures and copies of handwritten recipes were important elements that I was determined to include. My research led me to  They were able to easily put together my vision...and I got to talk with the owner directly the first time I called. She was extremely helpful and patient through the entire process.

I recruited my aunts to help me by submitting and collecting recipes. I sent out an email to all my family telling them what I was doing and had them send me their favorite, most used, most requested recipes.
Perhaps they didn't realize the extent of the final product because much to their own regret many relatives didn't send even one recipe. Luckily, others contributed many. 

My aunts went to their aunts and dictated their recipes in broken English, we had recipes sent from relatives in Italy, and we even made difficult recipes and took photos of the steps.

I formatted and retyped all the recipes, while others helped with proof-reading and editing.
It is an important step to have someone other than the recipe submitter read the recipe to make sure that the directions are clear.
Some recipes even included personal notes or stories about a celebration or tradition that includes that dish.


I also included a segment in the front of the book that had all living family member's birthdays. It included their full name, month, day, and year of their birth.

Also included were an Introduction page, and pages that were added by the company such as, substitution charts, measuring charts, a guide to herbs and household cleaners, and perhaps most importantly they generate an index. For a brief period of time I thought I would self-publish, then I attempted to tackle creating the index....

Finally, the recipes are submitted to and then they work their magic. They also re-type, proofread, and edit all recipes. Before the book goes to print they send a sample book to be proofed. Then with any corrections the books get printed. You receive the sample book, the final books, a CD, and all your original recipes back in the mail.


I decided it was appropriate to dedicate this book to my Nana who raised six children and had 21 grandchildren at the time of her death. All of her children are amazing cooks.

I wrapped each book individually, shipped out the ones that were for out-of-staters, and toted the rest to my Aunt's annual Christmas Day get together for ALL the rest of my family.

I wish only that I had pictures from that Christmas. As I handed those books out, it became silent. Everywhere you looked they were flipping through every page, looking at every picture. Some were in groups looking at it together, other sat alone in the living room, in the kitchen, outside, upstairs....It was an amazing site. I'm so grateful to have made such a gift that will honor our family for so many years to come. I can't wait to give my children their copies when they are older.

I know the company does rush orders, depending on their current situation perhaps
you too can have one by Christmas.  If not,
you can always create a smaller version by just printing out YOUR recipes, and gifting them.

1 comment:

Sue said...

WOW! What a labor of LOVE! I have always wanted to do this, but never have:( Now, I have a source from which to launch...for NEXT Christmas:) What a treasure.