Unlike the plain old white index cards like we used in the old days, custom recipe cards feature special designs or colors and make great gifts for all sorts of occasions – from hostess to business settings.Continue reading
Have you looked at your calendar lately? Where on Earth has this year gone already?
I admit that mentally I am still somewhere in late May. My phone, however, reminds me daily that we are smack on the verge of August. And that means we are turning the corner on, you guessed it, Christmas! It will be here before you know it.
If you are planning to create a family recipe cookbook as a Christmas gift, then I suggest you consider getting ahead of the game and start working now on putting your family recipe cookbook together using my Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. You can also just assemble it using one of our recipe binders.
Here is a basic timeline to help you organize your thoughts and activities in time for Christmas:
Select your family recipes and type them into the software’s Recipe tab. You may also cut and paste them from other documents or websites.
Write any stories about the family recipes (especially funny ones), or write brief stories about the people who made (or still make) the signature recipes you have selected.
Collect photos of your family members and add to them to your family recipe cookbook in the People tab.
Use family gatherings to take any missing photos that you want to include.
Print copies of your family recipe cookbook on your home printer (be sure to have on hand enough ink cartridges and paper, etc.). Or, arrange to print your family recipe cookbook through your local fast printer.
One thing is for sure, creating a family memory cookbook is a wonderful way to personalize your Christmas gifts for all family members without driving all over town or stressing about what to give. Whether you include family recipes or your own personal favorites, using Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software will make it easy.
P.S. Have you worked on your cookbook today?
Before there was Caesar, before there was Ranch, before there was Balsamic Vinaigrette, there was Green Goddess salad dressing.
Green Goddess salad dressing was one of the most popular salad dressings in the United States at one time. The story goes that Green Goddess salad dressing originated at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923.Continue reading
There are as many reasons to make a cookbook as there are people. The 10 reasons to make a cookbook listed below are some of the top ones our readers and cookbook software users have told us:
1. Everybody loves my food.
Friends tell me I’m a great cook and that they would like to have my recipes. If I type it up once, I can print it a hundred times!
2. I need to get organized.
I’m tired of looking through 10 cookbooks, 5 drawers, a recipe card box, and under the refrigerator for all my recipes.
3. I want my mom’s ginger snaps to be enjoyed by my grandkid’s grandkids one day.
My uncle’s/grandmother’s/grandkid’s recipes need to be saved and enjoyed for future generations.
4. Feed my ego!
I have always wanted to have a cookbook published.
5. I need one more book!
My cookbook collection is too big, but I could pick out the recipes I like from all of them and then give the extra cookbooks away.
6. The handwriting is on the wall (and I can’t read it!)
I would like to take all those handwritten scraps I have in my recipe box and make them easy to find.
7. Reunion coming!
My family is having a reunion /wedding soon, and a cookbook of family recipes would be a fabulous keepsake.
My church / company / club / non-profit does such great potlucks, we should make a cookbook and sell it to make money for projects / supplies / charity / promotions.
9. Who wants to scroll with (literal) butterfingers?
The recipes on my computer are sometimes inconvenient to use, so I want a hard copy to refer to when cooking.
10. I need to save money.
I need inexpensive gifts to give for the holidays, and I can print out 10 cookbook gifts for under $10 each.
If you are reading this page, most likely you are thinking about your own reasons to make a cookbook: fundraising, preservation of family traditions, ego, downsizing, personal-touch presents for others.
No matter what your reason is to make a cookbook, any time is the perfect time to start your cookbook making project. Be sure your choice of cookbook making software offers a variety of options. We are partial to our own Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software, but there are many options available for cookbook makers. Be sure to choose the one you are comfortable using, suits your purpose, and is easy to operate.
Ruth looked distressed. “Do you think Arnie should be in my cookbook?”
Arnie was her poodle. He passed on to the Great Fire Hydrant In The Sky last year.
“I should hope not,” I said. “He’d be much too stringy even to slow cook with by now.”
She scowled. “No. I mean in my Family Tree section. Should Arnie be in the Family Tree section of my family cookbook? Is that weird?”
“Let’s put it in perspective,” I replied. “Your cousin Graham. He borrowed $800 from you six years ago. Never repaid it. He hogged down half your peach cobbler last Christmas. He hasn’t said five civil words to you in half a decade. Is he going to be in your cookbook?”
“Is he more family to you than Arnie?”
“Family,” I said, “has little to do with time or life or death or even species. Family is love, and family is forever.”
“Hmmmm. Maybe,” she said. “Now I wonder if there’s some form of slow cooking I could do to Graham that would get my $800 back….”
Jealous? Asking yourself, “How did she make that tiny little circle next to the F?”
If you have the latest version of our software, you probably know it’s easy to add with the Recipe Builder feature. If not, you can still easily make it. There are two easy ways:
A. Just copy and paste it! Click in front of the °, hold, drag across it, then right click and click “Copy”. Then right click and choose “Paste” wherever you want it to appear.
B. Use the Alt key and number pad to the right of your keyboard. Hold down the Alt key, and hit “0176” on the number pad. Let go of the Alt key and it’ll appear.
Our software will point you to this page if you want this symbol or others.
Is my photo up above a little over-the-top? Well, maybe. But that’s how I felt when I first figured it out!
There are lots of really good reasons to use Word. Making a family cookbook isn’t one of them. Here’s why:
1. It’s distracting. You will spend more time worrying about formatting your Word document than you will thinking about writing Cousin Dilbert’s Peanut Brittle recipe.
2. You won’t make your cookbook in Word consistently. Sometimes you’ll remember to Bold it. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes the picture of the recipe is above it. Sometimes below it. With our cookbook software all the consistency is built-in for you.
3. One word: “indent.” If that doesn’t make you scared of Word, how about “bullets and numbering?” At some point, you’ll try to use it in Word and things will get out of alignment, and you’ll go crazy.
4. Adding new recipes in the middle of the cookbook. You’ll want to do it, but scrolling down to find that spot will be a pain in Word. Once you are there, all the pages after it will get re-formatted. Our software lets you easily find any recipe you want, and adding a new recipe is as simple as clicking “Add new recipe.”
5. You will have to re-type the same thing over and over. With our software, you just select an author name from a menu. You can’t mis-spell it. Same thing for recipe categories (Fish, Salad, Breads, etc).
6. You’ll have to manually figure out a Table of Contents section. Unless you can figure out how to do references, creating a TOC in Word is not easy. With our software you hit a button and your Contents section prints out. It’s that easy.
7. How do you add a degree symbol (°F)? A spanish N (±)? How do I add in a Birthday Calendar? An address book? Our software makes it simple to do all these things, and more, with a few clicks.
Check out our family cookbook software. It’s extremely affordable, and it’ll save you a lot of hassles over using Word.
One powerful feature in using my cookbook software to preserve family cooking traditions is the ability to standardize family recipes that have been handed down for generations. Standardize the macaroni casserole so beloved by your grandfather? Sacrilege!
Not really. Let me explain.
Standardizing family recipes can be the single most important way to preserve the taste of the dishes over time (aside from creating the actual cookbook, of course).
You remember that macaroni from childhood days, but when you make it from the tattered sheet of paper your mother gave you that your grandmother wrote, you say, “It just doesn’t taste the same.” Why? Because ingredients can change as ideas about food (who thought of trans fats 50 years ago?) and new food manufacturing techniques come into play.
Take a look at that original family recipe. Does it tell you enough in detailed terms to really be able to duplicate the taste you remember? Chances are it does not. The specific brand of butter, the type of cheese, the exact cooking time, all make a difference in the final dish.
Being able to clarify both measurements and ingredients serves to improve the quality and integrity of the dish over generations rather than dilute it. (Who wants to preserve a generic family recipe?)
So, be sure to describe a family recipe’s ingredients as specifically as possible. For example, using the term 1 teaspoon of fresh baking soda suggests NOT digging out the open box that has spent several years in the back of the refrigerator as a deodorizer.
Also, add sizes to the vegetables or fruits called for in the family recipe. The juice of 3 medium lemons is better than “juice of 3 lemons.” Better yet is “½ cup of lemon juice, freshly squeezed.”
I think you see what I mean. So, when you are using my cookbook software to make your family recipe book, keep in mind that it is better to name names. Precisely!
After buying our cookbook software, you can easily print off your cookbook at home for free. But of course it’s not really free, what with toner and paper and such. And you still might want to bind it together in something other than one of our nice recipe binders.
So here’s a great place where you can make your cookbook for around $8/each (6 books). The specs I’ve set out in the link give you 50 pages (black and white) with a color front and back cover, spiral binding and a clear plastic protective sheet over front and back. These folks do great work!
Cookbook templates are such an easy and fun way to create cookbooks for you, your family and friends, and even for those fundraising projects that inevitably come up.
Using a cookbook template is a tried and true results-getting process steeped in many crafting traditions. For example, sewing hobbyists use patterns. Interior decorators use stencils. Painters and muralists use outlines. So using a cookbook template to automatically format a professional-looking family recipe cookbook makes sense.
Here are 5 ways cookbook templates can help you have more fun making your cookbook:Continue reading
Marty in our support bulletin board asked me why he couldn’t get the title “Holiday Cooking” to fit as a recipe heading in his cookbook. It’s normally not a problem, but I explained that this can be an issue in our half page formats if you’re writing a cookbook with a really large font size. There’s just not much space to work with!
But it got me thinking about a bigger issue that applies to everyone writing a family cookbook. When it comes to recipe headings, sometimes less is more.
Obviously, I myself can be a little wordy sometimes. (You never hear about Bill Gates’ Fantastic Word Processing Software. He just calls it “Word.”) But even I can see that when it comes to organizing recipes, short headings make it much easier for cooks to find the right page in your cookbook.
I advised Marty to just call the heading for Holiday Cooking “Holidays.” It’s in a cookbook, so it’s already implied that it’s holiday cooking.
It’s just much easier to skim through a cookbook with headings like “Entree” and “Dessert” than “Continental Dinner Fare” and “Cakes, Pies and Other Sweets”.
Do I follow my own rule? To be honest, no. But I tend to be a bit quirky about it. Instead of “Salads” I like writing “Green Things.” “Fish” are “Scaly Swimmers.” “Cookies” are “Grandkid Appeasers.”
Is my own cookbook a pain to use for the uninitiated? Undoubtedly. But it’s my cookbook and mostly my recipes. And if you want to use it you’re just going to have to humor my writing.
I’m not a big fan of hosting my personal family recipes on a website. There are a number of pitfalls in putting hundreds of hours into maintaining an online recipe book:
1. Will they be around?
What happens if the website service goes bankrupt? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but maybe next year.
2. What do you do if the recipes vanish?
Is there a backup? I’ve heard several stories of people entering all their recipes online and they just vanish. *poof*
3. What if they become obnoxious?
It may be free now, but what about three years from now? Five? Ten? What if they suddenly start flooding you with advertisements? If you build up a huge collection of recipes online, it’ll be really hard to just walk away.
4. How likely is it that you’ll share your family recipes with your grand daughter if it’s a bookmark on some web page?
Sitting in front of a computer, even online, is an inherently isolating event. Handing somebody a printed cookbook is inherently social.
Imagine you just died. (I know it’s horrible, but play along.) Are your descendants likely to stumble into your family recipes at website XYZ under the user name GrannyCookMachine537?
5. Are you comfortable with not having control over how your family recipes will be used?
If you carefully read the license agreements to these online recipe websites, you’ll notice that even though you own the recipes, they have publishing rights. They can make their own recipe book using your recipes and not pay you a dime. Melissa A. Trainer writes about this issue here.
6. Who wants to look up a recipe on a computer when your hands are covered in butter and eggs?
I’ll start making the pot roast as soon as my computer boots up. And my internet access starts. And I log on to the website. And I do a search for the recipe I want. And I do the search again because I typed it wrong. And–oh heck, let’s just order a pizza.
As Napoleon Dynamite’s brother said, “Yes, I love technology.” But not so much that I don’t see the value of a good ol’ fashioned printed cookbook. Obviously, as the owner of a cookbook printing software company, I’m pretty biased. But I could’ve just as easily started an online recipe storage website like all the others. I didn’t.
That’s because I believe the best way to manage your family recipes is from your own computer. Off line and in control.
For more about my cookbook printing software, click here.
There are many reasons to make a cookbook (church, business, etc), but this story focuses on ideas for family cookbooks.
Maybe you buy my fine software. Maybe you go it alone using Microsoft Word. Or maybe (heaven forbid) you go with one of those scoundrel competitors. Whichever you do, let’s be clear on one thing: You are a saint.
It was your idea to put together a document of the most precious things you give to your most precious people–the food you feed your family. Someday you’ll be dead and everyone will be very grateful. For the coobook you left them, that is. Not that you’re dead.
But I’m afraid, my poor dears, you are going to screw it up along the way.
Can’t be helped. Nobody every published anything perfectly the first time, and if it’s your first crack at it that’ll be especially true. The following tips won’t prevent all the mistakes, but they’ll at least clear the way for some new ways to goof. Alas, life is about learning.
Mistake #1. Making the One Final Perfect Family Cookbook.
Oh, I see it all the time. You spend hundreds of hours pouring over every recipe, quibbling over every detail. You go with one of these big Vanity printing presses that charge you thousands of dollars to get them printed. You proudly hand them to every family member. And have no idea why they get buried at the bottom of a cupboard.
Why? Because there’s no such thing as The One Final Perfect Family Cookbook. There are ALWAYS new ideas and new recipes to add. There are always little typos you missed along the way. And even if there weren’t, what does that tell the rest of your family when you foist on them a giant tome? “It’s not yours.” That’s what.
Go with a lower budget! Give everyone a cheaper book and say, “Mark it up and return it to me next Christmas!” Make your Family Cookbook a living, breathing document that gets added to every year, not just by you but by everyone. It won’t get buried in the cupboard, dear, if it belongs to everybody.
Mistake #2. Making the Family Recipe Book About Recipes
Last Christmas did you run into the house, tear open the presents and leave without talking to anyone? I certainly hope not. The holidays are the one chance to see everybody. Even the smelly ones are nice for a little while.
Building a family recipe book with just recipes is like ripping open presents and running out the door. Stay a while. Put some photos in there of big events. Write some scuttlebutt. (Nothing too scandalous!) Throw in an address book and birthday calendar if you want. (My software helps you do that, at the risk of tooting my own horn.) The point is to make it a family recipe book and a family year book. Will Great Uncle Larry really care about your new peanut brittle recipe? Probably not. But he’ll take a look at it if it’s got a photo of him at third base seats in Shea Stadium.
The idea of Christmas isn’t the presents. The idea of a recipe book isn’t food. It’s feeding people you love. Let your book reflect that by involving people in the book.
Mistake #3. Bad Proof Reading.
If you are writing your family cookbook, you are going to be a lousy editor. Even if you are a good editor most of the time, you will disappoint yourself with what you missed. Get two or three people to help you.
I always tell my proof readers there’s a Waldo on every page. As in “Where’s Waldo.” The Waldo is a mistake that I know about. “If you are half as clever as you think you are,” I say, “you’ll see it.” Sometimes there isn’t a Waldo, but more often than not the proof reader will find it anyway.
That’s all the mistakes I can think of for now. I suspect I’ll be adding to this as I continue to make more. The most important thing to remember about your cookbook, and life, is that the mistakes mostly don’t really matter. If you’ve shown people you love them and you pass on a little knowledge, the hiccups along the way tend to sort themselves out.
If you are interested in some really great cookbook software, come check it out at CookbookPeople.com.