Start a Family Cookbook Tradition This Holiday
Posted: December 18, 2012
Start a Family Cookbook this Holiday
Every year, my husband asks what I did with the Christmas cookie recipe and every year I remind him it is in the front of my Betty Crocker Cookbook. This year however I started thinking about that recipe and the importance of it to one of our holiday family traditions – making Grandma Beerkircher’s cookies! My Mother-in-law wrote the recipe down for us many years ago, and it has seen its share of Christmases as evidenced by the sugar and butter stains and frayed edges. This year, we will be passing the recipe on to my newly married daughter who will be making them for the first time by herself.
I think part of the excitement of the holidays is those special foods we have only once a year and the memories of times past that they bring to mind. This is true for all cultures and religions; and as our society becomes more global, it is exciting to learn about and share in the variety of food traditions that are seen around the world. The question becomes how do we preserve these traditions for future generations?
While it is easy to Google recipes, there is something special about having a recipe in the handwriting of a loved one that provides a link to the past. With Grandma’s cookie recipe, we decided it was time to make a copy of it and retire the hand written recipe before it became too worn or damaged. We are thinking of actually framing it as a way to remember Grandma. My husband suggested that we hand write other recipes that we prepare to give to our daughter. This got me to thinking about all those pieces of paper and note cards I have in my drawer with favorite recipes collected over the years. Many of these are stand by recipes that everyone in the family likes and that I often use. So, as family gathers this holiday season, one of the things that you can think about doing is to gather up some of those family recipes and put them into a family recipe book so that they are not lost over time.
To get started, begin with the recipes you may already have written down and either copy them or rewrite them. With technology today, you can create a great cookbook on the computer and those handwritten recipes can be easily scanned in for that down home feeling. For recipes that have been passed down orally, work on converting those pinches and dashes to actual measurements. Probably the best way to do this is to get in the kitchen and actually prepare the dishes with someone assigned to writing down what it is being done. Take pictures to include in the cookbook, as well. This includes a picture of the finished product, but also the cooks and helpers as they are preparing the recipe. You can also think about making notes about color, feel or aroma of the foods, as well. I know our Christmas cookie recipe calls for lemon zest, and while it is just a small amount, that wonderful smell is definitely a part of the whole experience.
While favorite holiday recipes may be the start of your family cookbook, don’t let it end there. As the year goes on, add in other favorites, such as, special salads you always take to the family reunion, favorite birthday cake recipes or the recipe for the meatloaf that everyone loves. Whatever you do, don’t trust your memory to remember everything, and most importantly, do it now when family and friends are together – it makes the job easier and a lot more fun!