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Making your own cookbook...


Katie Nell
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This year, for Christmas, I made my Great Grandma's butter almond cookies (stamped with a tulip cookie stamp) and gave them to family members, along with a letter describing my idea for a family cookbook. Next year's present will be the cookbook. I've asked them to send me at least one recipe that they are known for in the family, one recipe from the other side of their family, and one recipe that they make at home on a regular basis. I've also asked them to send any of my Great Grandma's recipes they may have... I'm hoping that the cookbook can be sort of a dedication to my grandma. Along with that, I've asked for pictures and stories revolving around food, i.e. the first time my Great Grandpa had tacos and didn't know what they were called, and the time my dad chucked a roll at my mom's head, etc. :smile:

I'm torn between sort of making it look homemade and scrapbooky or making it more of a professional presentation. I have a design background, so either method would probably work. What I'm wondering, is if anyone had done this and has any suggestions or tips? Also, if I do go for more of a professional look, does anyone know of resources for printing, paper, or that sort of thing? Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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I looked into doing that for a retreat house I worked at. There are a number of companies that specialize in making cookbooks for fundraisers. There is also a self-publishing thing on the web, and I disremember the name, but I have been to the website and it was pretty reasonable. Altogther, with all the time I have spent with schoolwork and just fooling around on my own, I have easily enough stuff to fill a good-sized book, but when I look at the hard copies of my schoolwork for instance, I have no idea where the digital copy is anymore. Another reason to be organized about backing up.

lulu.com...that was it.

Edited by McDuff (log)
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How about professionally "scrapbooky"? For example, if someone hand writes a recipe or food-related memory, scan it and include it on a well-designed page. It could be the best of both print worlds.

How many cookbooks do you intend to give out when it's completed? If it's not a large number (I'd say over 100 is large), you may just want to go with a local print shop as opposed to a community cookbook company that's used to dealing with higher numbers.

I create video graphics with some print work on the side and developing a rapport/relationship with someone in a print house (Kinko's, etc) can be a life-saver when it comes down to unusual print jobs and their respective deadlines. Stop by a local print shop (it's difficult to get an actual human on the phone these days) and ask to speak with someone about your cookbook print project. If there's no one available, move on to the next print shop until you find someone who can help.

Figure out what size you want the finished cookbook to be and how many you will want printed (print a little more than you will need). Discuss paper stock, binding, covers, etc.

With any luck, you can design the entire cookbook in your own computer, save it out as a PDF (actually, find out from the print shop what file formats they prefer) and they can handle it from there.

I met the pastry chef at Blue Point in San Diego's Gaslamp District a few years back and she does something similar though not as as elaborate. She prints up her recipes every year and gives them out as gifts to her family and friends (we tried hitting her up for a copy but it was a no-go :raz: ).

Good luck with your project!

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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How about professionally "scrapbooky"?  For example, if someone hand writes a recipe or food-related memory, scan it and include it on a well-designed page. It could be the best of both print worlds.

That sounds like it could be a good option, because I think handwriting is a part of why I love some of our family recipes so much. I can't help but feel like my Great Grandma is in the kitchen with me when I see her handwriting on a recipe card.

How many cookbooks do you intend to give out when it's completed?  If it's not a large number (I'd say over 100 is large), you may just want to go with a local print shop as opposed to a community cookbook company that's used to dealing with higher numbers. 

I'll probably only give out about 10, or 20 at the most. And you just reminded me... my ex-uncle owns a print shop, so I may just have to chat with him! Thanks!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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This is the fourth year I've done exactly what you're proposing. I would go with the scrapbooky look, to emphasize its homespun quality. Mine are totally amateur-just to save money and time. It's literally photocopied letter sized pages put in a file folder with those fold-back tabs. I also have a scrapbook that mom made me with vintage photos and handwritten recipes, but it is too precious to have in the kitchen. The ones I make can get all covered with flour and chocolate batter and it doesn't matter.

I have one tip though, you may need to really give people the nudge to give you recipes--they may be too humble or shy about it, but tell them you want the recipes because you love them and that will work! I also put in newspaper clippings of family members, my child's drawings, anecdotes, diary entries, my grandmother's poems, etc. It's kind of like a family almanac.

With your design background the sky's the limit! They are wonderful to have as I just used one tonight and was glad I'd written about the day two years ago when we made the same chocolate pudding. It's also great to go to your sister's place and she has all your favorite recipes so you can cook them for her!

Also, before you go into production think about how many you're going to make and how much they will cost, because you know how things can add up before you know it!

Have fun and let us know how it turns out!

Zuke

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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I have one tip though, you may need to really give people the nudge to give you recipes--they may be too humble or shy about it, but tell them you want the recipes because you love them and that will work! I also put in newspaper clippings of family members, my child's drawings, anecdotes, diary entries, my grandmother's poems, etc. It's kind of like a family almanac.

I think the letter I wrote will hopefully do the trick... I think I did enough threatening and enough "heartwarming" sentiment to encourage response. Also, I provided a self-addressed stamped envelope, so there would be no excuses. I think I'm also going to send out a reminder postcard.

Thanks for all the advice everyone! I'll post when I'm finished... won't be for a while I'm sure, but hopefully I can post pictures of it too!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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I've been threatening to do something similar for years, although I haven't any family left to speak of, so it would have to be friends. Since my friends are mostly older than I and starting to face health challenges and dietary restrictions (and I'm known for healthful cooking), I've been urged to make collections of flavorful, fresh foods for the cooking-challenged.

I think the scrapbooky thing, hand-written. I, like you, still use some of my grandmother's recipes and chuckle at her handwriting, spelling and margin notes (including the occasional catty remark about the neighbor who gave her the recipe -- I apparently come by my sarcasm quite naturally. :wink: And it may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone, but I kind of like some of her cards that clearly bear the marks of having been on the countertop when she was cooking. The sugo card really *should* have some reddish, tomato-y looking stuff, don't you think? Maybe strike a balance and, instead of going "sloppy" you could press a leaf of the main herb onto the page, or dehydrate a thin slice of citrus and glue it to the page if the recipe calls for it?

We should keep this alive, on or offline, and guilt each other into getting it done. I need both carrots and sticks to make me follow-through on something that will likely take the better part of a year.

Oh, one other "Martha-like" thought...gather some foliage typical of each month (or season), dry it, and incorporate it into the pages (especially if your book takes on a seasonal theme). You could actually turn the book into a kitchen calendar if you were so inclined.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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My husband and I did this the first year we were married--it seemed like a good way to bring the two halves of our family together, plus add our closest friends to the mix. This was 17 years ago :shock:, so there wasn't much word processing or design capability on the average home computer; we typed up the recipes, did some black and white stencils on the cover pages for various sections, and called it good enough. We also photocopied the recipe cards we loved most (like the one from his grandmother, which includes the list of ingredients for her famous dinner rolls followed by the direction "Put dough in pan and bake until done") and included those as well.

Two suggestions: we used a plastic spiral binding (available at places like Kinko's--I think they call it a "comb" binding), and this was a great decision because it allows the cookbook to sit open on the counter while you're cooking from it. This is not an expensive option. Also, we copied recipes only on the front of each page, leaving the backs blank, so people could write in new favorite recipes as they came upon them. I've found this to be really useful.

We're planning to update the cookbook this year. If the others' books are as stained and torn up as mine, the new edition is long overdue!

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A few holiday seasons ago I made cookbooks for my freinds and family based partially in the healthy recipes I was writing for a website and partially on familiy recipes, so it varied from tofu faux mayo to a thanksgiving stuffing recipe that includes 6 eggs, a half a lb of butter and a sleeve of ritz crackers.

My best freind still uses it as a reference.

It was great fun, very amateruish, just put them in binders along with a few plastic sleeves so you could take one recipe out and keep it in the kitchen with you

I may well do it again one of these days.

"sometimes I comb my hair with a fork" Eloise

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Katie - this is a great idea and I love everyone's suggestions. Good luck with this - I tried to do the same thing for my sister-in-law (Mr. Kim's sister) when she got married. No luck at all. I begged and nagged to no avail. Discovered years later that most of my in laws 'famous' recipes were in fact 'back of the box' type things and they were embarassed to admit it :laugh: !

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I'll probably only give out about 10, or 20 at the most. And you just reminded me... my ex-uncle owns a print shop, so I may just have to chat with him!

I made a cookbook for a friend of mine whose kids and grandkids were bugging her for her recipes. I did it as a booklet -- 8.5x11-inch paper folded in half -- and had a print shop copy, fold, staple, and then trim the ends so they were even. Another thing print shops can do is a comb binding which can be nice since the cookbook could lay flat while being used.

For paper, I used I used card stock for the cover. For printing, print shop photocopier work well as their photocopies usually are very high quality.

It was great fun, very amateruish, just put them in binders along with a few plastic sleeves so you could take one recipe out and keep it in the kitchen with you

Binders also would be nice. You can get binders that let you put in a cover and a spine. I used a binder when I did one cookbook for a friend, and recently I printed up a bunch of new recipes in the same format for her to add to the binder. If your family might get bigger, or you might want to add recipes for another reason, this might work well.

Good luck, and have fun!

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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To chime in again, I agree that the binder w/ the plastic protector sleeves are a good idea - like someone else said, you can add to it in years to come. This would be a wonderful way to welcome new members to the family - by adding their special recipes to the cookbook and sending copies to everyone. Lots of people do scrapbooks like this and they can be really pretty.

This is what I do with my recipes - the ones from my webpage? I print each one out as I add it and put it in a binder in a plastic sleeve. I used the kind of binder that has a clear plastic sleeve in the front and made covers and spine labels with cool food clip art that I found online.

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We should keep this alive, on or offline, and guilt each other into getting it done.  I need both carrots and sticks to make me follow-through on something that will likely take the better part of a year.

Definitely!! I'm notorious about starting projects and never finishing them! Or having the ideas, but not following up... now, where is that handmade paper kit I bought years ago?!? :wink: Fortunately, I have people depending on me, so that should help!

Oh, one other "Martha-like" thought...gather some foliage typical of each month (or season), dry it, and incorporate it into the pages (especially if your book takes on a seasonal theme).  You could actually turn the book into a kitchen calendar if you were so inclined.

I saw a calendar where she did this a while ago, and thought it was gorgeous, but I kept forgetting some months, so I would have had to have a 3-month calendar!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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Well, I got my first reply, and I'm rather disappointed... maybe I expect too much of people??? It was from one of my great aunts and I know she sent it on Friday so she wouldn't have to pay the two extra cents when postage went up! :wink: That's terrible, I shouldn't say that, but she is stingy! She was stingy with the recipes too... only two recipes, and they were ham loaf, her particulary disgusting version of meatloaf with ham, and sausage loaf, which I haven't had the pleasure of! No pictures and no stories, and neither one of the recipes were hers, they were her mother-in-laws! I know she has a ton of recipes and pictures from my great grandma! GRRRRR! :angry: Hopefully, there's better things to come!

Edited by Katie Nell (log)

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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Katie, you may have to get really specific with people. Say "don't you have grandma's recipe for ___? I would love it if you would send that for the cookbook." Also, when possible - especially with the older folks - hands on works better than letters. On a visit a while ago, I sat down with my grandmother and went through her recipes, including ones she had from my great grandmother (her mother in law), a ledgendary Southern cook - even as a tiny little girl I can remember eating things at her house that I wouldn't eat anywhere else. I know that my grandmother would have NEVER gotten around to copying all those recipes and mailing them to me, but I was able to talk to her and make my own copies.

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Katie, you may have to get really specific with people.  Say "don't you have grandma's recipe for ___?  I would love it if you would send that for the cookbook."  Also, when possible - especially with the older folks - hands on works better than letters.  On a visit a while ago, I sat down with my grandmother and went through her recipes, including ones she had from my great grandmother (her mother in law), a ledgendary Southern cook - even as a tiny little girl I can remember eating things at her house that I wouldn't eat anywhere else.  I know that my grandmother would have NEVER gotten around to copying all those recipes and mailing them to me, but I was able to talk to her and make my own copies.

I provided examples in the letter, but I honestly just think she doesn't want to give up her recipes! I know my grandma and my other aunts will come through for me though, so I'm not too worried! I know what you mean about Grandma's house... everything just tastes better there!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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I did this a few years ago for my two siblings and our parents, so I made four copies -- one for me, of course! My mom ended up scanning hers and making four more computer-printed copies for 4 of my aunts, so 8 copies total. My four were done in 6x6" spiral scrapbooks (Canson?), scrapbook-style. I assembled them all at once, so it went fairly fast, but it did take a fair amount of time for the whole project. I'm so glad I did it though -- can't think how often someone thanks me again for his or her copy. I included family food-related stories, too. I asked aunts, etc. to send their favorite recipe they made for their own family and a favorite of their mothers' -- my grandmothers -- and stories. The ones I expected would do it did it and the ones I thought wouldn't get around to it didn't. :smile: Also, I put in my Mom's two "standard" company meals -- lasagna/salad/homemade bread/cheesecake and veal paprika/rice/green beans almondine/squash casserole/lime jello salad/homemade bread/dessert -- with stories about those. I did a page each of my dad's Christmas Day memories, Mom's, and my own of our family's, including the traditional foods we had for them. I'm a big believer in honoring loved ones' memories by remembering them accurately, so I included my Dad's story of how he loved his mother's cooking except for one thing, her jam cake. She mistakenly thought it was his favorite and baked it often, but he thought it was dry and awful. Dad's two sisters got a bit offended about that story, I think, but I reassured them that Dad and I and all of us loved Grandmother very, very much and thought her an admirable cook, but that didn't mean every single thing she made had to be perfect, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, you have to be a bit careful about balancing the authenticity for history's sake vs. being careful of family members' feelings.

Another thing I'd do differently -- the books became so thick with the scrapbook paper and photos that they don't close flat but sort of fan outward. Annoying -- I should have gotten albums with much larger spirals or used a different format altogether.

Oh and re getting responses from family for the book. Consider phoning and chatting with family members. Just ask them to tell you the story of the time..... while you take notes. I think that works especially well with elderly family. I did that and read it back to them when they were finished to see if I'd gotten anything wrong.

Good luck with your project -- it can be frustrating but mine was very rewarding as well.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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  • 9 months later...

My maternal family did this 3 1/2 years ago and it was a big hit. My grandparents had 9 kids, so there are a lot of cousins and their offspring. A good number of them contributed to the family cookbook too.

There were also anecdotes and some family history that a lot of the younger relatives didn't know about.

I was in charge of the project - I tracked people down, compiled the recipes, edited them and typed them into a workable format. We had the cookbooks reproduced at Staples in a comb binding with a photo of my grandmother on the cover.

A few weeks later, we presented the cookbook to my grandmother at a family tribute we held in her honor. She was so pleased and happy and ended up showing off the cookbook to her neighbors and friends in the senior citizen complex in which she lived.

My grandmother died last year at the age of 92 and I'm so glad we were able to put this together while she was still alive.

http://members.aol.com/pastorreunion/cookbook.htm

Edited by Kris (log)
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I've done several of these (desserts, soups, etc.) and keep all my data in FileMaker Pro, with fields for title, a short anecdote about each recipe, ingredients and instructions. If you are familiar with FileMaker, it should be easy to create both an easy-to-use input layout and an attractive output layout for whatever size page you want to create. FileMaker is not InDesign, of course, but there is still good font control.

I have done both stapled books (12 - 16 recipes) and spiral bound books. The spirals a definitely nicer.

Cheers,

Karen

Editor of Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner, a Take Control series ebook.

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  • 1 year later...

Aha to me digging up a 2 yr old thread.

Anyway, I've mentioned this before but BLURB (http://www.blurb.com/) allows you to publish some pretty professional looking cookbooks (or any other kind of books).

You download a program to design it to your liking, then BLURB will print it for you at so and so cost.

Here's a link to check out some people's personal cookbooks:

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/category/Co...g?ce=dailyolive

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Have you made one yourself? I would, but most of my mother's recipes come from clipped-out Canadian Living mags. What I really need to get a hold of are my grandmother's recipes. Of course, since she was usually cooking for 10 or more people, they all start with, " Take a 5 kg bag of flour..."

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Have you made one yourself? I would, but most of my mother's recipes come from clipped-out Canadian Living mags. What I really need to get a hold of are my grandmother's recipes. Of course, since she was usually cooking for 10 or more people, they all start with, " Take a 5 kg bag of flour..."

That could be a good excuse for you to make all the recipes scaled down to test them before making the book. :raz:

Canadian Living has some very good recipes. They would still be worth adding to your cookbook (if you ever make one), I think, since some of them are very hard to find (anyone have a Canadian Living recipe for Sausage Ratatouille from the late '80s?). Just alter a few things and they're as good as yours!

I think most people's "family" recipes were probably once found in print, anyway.

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I am in the process of compiling cookbook for my 92 year old mother to give as a Christmas gift to family members. I am using the Mastercook software. I have entered the recipes. then in the section for Notes, I have written the story around the recipe as my mother has dictated it to me...whose favorite recipe it was, how she acquired it, when she prepared it etc. So each recipe is personalized. I also have some photos of her preparing some of the recipes that I will insert.

The software allows me to publish (print) it out in various formats. Then I will bind them with a comb binder.

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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