Design and create your own family cookbooks with these helpful tips
Coast Monthly asked cookbook author Martha Justice and her husband, Bill, to share their tips on preserving family recipes.
Treasured family recipes always bring happy memories. If you’ve long thought of preserving family recipes, there’s no better time than now. Consider making a family cookbook, just for yourself or make more for family gifts this holiday season.
Whether you choose to type or create handwritten pages, here are ideas, starting with a small three-ring binder and paper trimmed to fit.
Perhaps you have dreamed of someday organizing heirloom recipes. Choose your favorites according to appetizers, soups, salads, vegetables, breads, main dishes, desserts, beverages and any other category you like. Invite family members to contribute their own specialties. Decide on a fun family title for the book and write a special introduction.
Purchase cookbook covers
We love the small, white three-ring binders with 1-inch spine, which are perfect for long-lasting family cookbooks in which recipes can be added for years to come. We ordered a package of six, small mini-view binders. Best of all, covers instantly come to life with cover-weight sheets of cheerful graphics and artwork trimmed to size and slipped into the clear cover overlay and spine.
With our “stay-at-home” lifestyle, Bill and I searched through the house for ideas — holiday gift boxes, hearts, flower and circle designs from a children’s art project; a shiny, striped gift bag; graphic contact paper; and gold handcrafted design once on a Christmas card from a neighbor. Cover designs with family photos or artwork printed on cover-weight paper or photo paper will work great, too. Look for scrapbooking supplies, stick-on lettering, foam stickers, ribbons and more. Attach a cute flower or gift card, tie on a small spatula, wooden spoon or set of measuring spoons for a special gift presentation. Your one-of-a-kind creation will surely stand out from the “kitchen crowd” of cookbooks.
A great way to start is by typing the introduction and divider pages because you’ll instantly have seven or eight pages done. Designs for these divider sheets can be enhanced with scrapbooking supplies, photos, clip art or even cute family illustrations.
Use the software of your choice to set up the page for size 5½-by-8½. For greatest effect, type recipe pages in large, readable fonts with only one recipe to a page, leaving the back for notes. Start with the recipe name at top center of the page. Follow with listing of ingredients in exact quantities with abbreviations. Type directions in paragraph form. Then conclude with a wonderful story line in italics, such as “This was Grandmother May’s favorite homemade candy recipe from the early 1900s. There’s surely a reason it was called ‘Patience.’”
We ordered paper from MyBinding.com trimmed to size 5½-by-8½ with three holes to fit the binder. Or, if you have a trimmer and hole-punch, you could easily prepare the pages by trimming regular letter sheets in half. Another option would be 65-pound paper, which is a sturdy stock with a “soft feel,” fast-drying surface often used for postcards, menus and posters.
Proof of the recipes
Print introduction and divider pages on the hole-punched paper; clip them in the binder. Then, when each recipe is typed, print and celebrate success, clipping it into the binder behind the corresponding divider. If you’re planning this special project for family holiday gifts, don’t worry if you haven’t quite finished all the recipes. Just present the gift with anticipation of future recipes to come. Read through, proof and make any changes.
If you need only a few books, you might be able to print them at home on your desktop. Or, once you’re out and about, a neighborhood copy shop can print out the number of book pages you need. If you go this route, the shop can provide paper and drill the holes, too. Then assemble your books at home.
For those who aren’t quite ready for a whole book project, beautiful vintage-style greeting cards can become gifts with a few lovingly handwritten recipes tied together with raffia and ribbons.
Bring Christmas joy this holiday season with the perfect gift this year of family keepsake cookbooks. For more holiday fun, create a festive cookbook gift basket, filled with decorative tins of yummy treats from the recipes.