Create your own family heritage cookbook:
• Write it down. You might need to sit down with family cooks and help them write out the recipes that are currently unwritten. Even if they have written recipes, consider watching them cook and taking notes. I know my grandmother never made a recipe straight as written, and neither do I. You don't want to miss those special touches!
• Gather recipes from family cooks of ALL ages. Include the recipes the children like to make, even if it's Ants on a Log (celery, peanut butter and raisins). Kids will get a big kick out of seeing their recipes now and in the years down the road.
• Home in on favorites. When you have too many recipes to choose from, try to focus on the dishes and baked goods that are tied to family traditions and holidays. Those may be the fare your family will want to replicate the most in the future.
• ID each cook. Consider taking photos of the family members who contribute each recipe. Try to include a photo of your family chefs creating their favorite concoctions. Also, a photo of the result is helpful to future generations.
• Go high tech. You can create an electronic copy of your family cookbook, or a print copy. Better yet, do both, so that if messy cooks make reading the print impossible, they can simply reprint! You can also save your family cookbook online, so that even distant relatives can access family recipes easily. You may even find long-lost relatives!
• Background stories are another ingredient. Include anecdotes about the family members contributing recipes. This will 'spice up' the cookbook.
• To create a family cookbook is to be a family historian. You might try to finish it in time for your next reunion. It will make a great take-home for relatives.
• Pass it on. Stress the intergenerational exchange in your anthology of family cuisine. Encourage older cooks to teach the younger generations their secrets, and vice versa.
• Keep it current. Add to your recipe collection as your family grows. Now the beauty of the myriad family compositions is that your perspective and life experiences can grow with each new family member, and so can your family cookbook!
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