Homemade family cookbook

Here’s a nice link to a homemade family cookbook. “Thimbleanna”once made with her sisters.

I really like the design. We might have to cook up a template with a similar theme for our software.

Erin

 

Family Photo Tips: How to Capture Hard-to-Photograph Family Members

If you are including family photos in your family cookbook, you probably have a few family members who are delaying your project because they don’t have a photo of themselves. You know the ones; they always look like a scared rabbit with the whites of their eyes showing (or with their eyes half-closed).

You volunteer to take the family cookbook photo you need, and each of them reluctantly agrees. Here are some tips to help make your family photo subjects feel more at ease, and you won’t need any fancy hot-shot photo equipment. For the sake of getting away from that dreaded his/her grammar awkwardness, let’s call your family cookbook photo subject Aunt Clara:

1. Ask Aunt Clara to wear her favorite outfit (not what she thinks she should wear).

2. Have her bring an object that she would feel comfortable holding (such as a book, flower, hat, toy, sweater). Holding something while having a photo taken gives her something else to think about.

3. Take the picture in a familiar part of the house, perhaps in the kitchen or in a favorite easy chair. Maybe outside by the roses, or in the glider on the porch.

4. Have Aunt Clara sit away from a wall, if possible, perhaps on a chair edge, stool or step ladder. (This is more important if she is taller than you).

5. Tell a joke or two (or reveal a funny family secret!) Laughing relaxes the muscles and reduces tension.

6. Before you snap the photo, tell Aunt Clara what you are going to do so she knows what to expect and when. In this step, she should feel you are the “director” in the scene and she is the star, and everything is under control. This builds trust (that you are trying to make her look as good as possible).

7. Take the camera in hand and focus. Now, tell Aunt Clara to move her head down and look at your shoes. That’s right! Your shoes! The absurdity of this crazy situation usually puts anyone off guard and relaxes them enough to cooperate instead of freezing up.

8. Quickly tell her to continue looking at your shoes, and on the count of 3 to move her head up and smile her biggest, brightest smile right at the camera. (Chances are Aunt Clara will let her guard down just long enough for you to capture her real essence).

8. Take a few more photos using this method. One of them is bound to be a winner of Aunt Clara, and good enough to include in your family cookbook’s biography section.

9. This technique can work for a group family photo, too.

One of my cousins so dreaded having her photo taken that she ate multiple antacid tablets the day before. After I took her photo this way, she was no longer camera shy–she turned into a ham!

Happy cookbooking!

Erin

The Most Popular Recipe Binder of All Time

Our most popular recipe binder of all time.  The size, the dividers, the beautiful construction, and of course–
your name on the cover. 


Video Testimonial: Great Family Cookbook for a Daughter

Looks beautiful! Our customer chose this customizable recipe binder and added extra recipe card protectors.

 

Five Reasons to Make a Christmas Cookbook Now

It’s early September and yes, you really should be thinking about Christmas. At least a little. If you want to put together a lovely family memento that everybody will love, get started now on making a family cookbook.

Here are 5 reasons to start now:

  1. It will save a lot of money. American families averaged $830 in Christmas presents last year. With our software, plus printing and binding and maybe a recipe binder or two, you can still come in at under $85 and have gifts for 7-10 people! That’s around $8/person. And it won’t be a “cheap” gift–it’ll be something sincere and heartfelt!
    Grandma-baby-cover
  2. Making a cookbook as a Christmas gift is pretty easy. Get our cookbook software (Matilda’s Cookbook Software), type up your recipes, add some photos, select a template and print. Stick them in our recipe binders or have them spiral bound at a local photocopy shop for a few dollars (or do both–the nice binder for the real cooks and spiral bound for everyone else).
  3. It does take a little time though to do it right. You’ll want to pick through your recipes, collect recipes from others in the family, get photos if you want them. Do you really want to be doing this in December with everything going on? Do it now and save yourself the headache.
  4. It will be something everybody will talk about. You’ve just made something that is filled with memories of great meals. You WILL hear somebody say, “I haven’t had that in ages!”
  5. It will be a family tradition. A few years from now others will have used your cookbook and have suggestions to add. Add them in, hit print, and voila, another year of Christmas presents covered!

We’ve had thousands of great stories from our customers who have put together their own family cookbook, and you can do it to. Get started with our software and plan for a really fun Christmas present!

Good cookbooking!

Erin

Recipe Binder Freebie: Kitchen Conversion Chart

Want to know how long to boil an egg to produce a creamy yolk? How long to cook a steak to make it medium rare? How many tablespoons are in a half cup? We put it all together in a simple-to-use and quite pretty conversion chart click here. It will fit in many of our beautiful recipe binders.

I posted about this a few years ago, but it seemed like a nice time to refresh it for our much larger audience.

We also sell the same information on pre-printed cards. Click here to go to the half page conversion chart:

Closeup:

….and here’s the full page conversion chart:

Why buy them when you can download the same info for free? Well, they already have the holes to fit in your binder, they are on a heavy durable card paper stock, and they are only $0.99. So why not?

Lastly, if you’d like the same information easily visible on your refrigerator, might I introduce you to our handy one-of-a-kind refrigerator magnet chart:


Here’s a little Youtube video we made of our binder charts, in case you are interested:

Free Grocery Shopping Checklist to Keep in Your Recipe Binder

Want to show up at the grocery store with a pre-filled out shopping checklist? Download this simple acrobat file and you can print it out and fill it in by hand, or just click the check boxes on your screen and then print it:

We posted about this about 4 years ago, and since then it’s become a top result for the google search “grocery shopping checklist.” But as we add a lot of visitors to our blog and users on Facebook, it seemed like a great time to let people know again.

Our focus is really on getting you the best recipe binder or recipe box or other recipe organizer possible. But I had to make this for my own binder, so I thought I’d give it away to everyone!

Make a Cookbook for $8

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!

21 Rotten Foods Found in Your Family Cookbook

How many recipes for rotten food are in your family cookbook?  Or, how many recipes in your family cookbook include ingredients classified as rotten food? I bet you have quite a few!

Consider that some of the most beloved rotten food tastes from the Americas and Europe (especially France) are based on some form of decomposition, decay, or the result of deliberately drying, fermenting, spicing, or injecting foods with “good” bacteria.

It is always amusing to try and fathom why someone would taste, let alone eat, some of the most disgusting rotten food products out there (and pay extra for them). Culture certainly has a lot to do with rotten food being coveted.  Smelly, salty things don’t seem like such attractions, however, go most anywhere in the world and you’re bound to find at least one food that is prized for its putrid qualities.

Still think you don’t have any rotten food recipes in your family cookbook? Try these on for size:

21 Rotten Foods Found in Your Family Cookbook

Aged meat
Beer
Cheese
Creme fraiche
Cassoulet
Confit
Cured meat & hams (Parma, Rosette, Smithfield)
Fish paste
Fish sauce
Kim-Chi
Pate
Rillette
Salt cod
Sour bean curd
Sour cream
Soy sauce
Sun-dried tomatoes
Surstromming herring
Wild game birds
Wine
Yogurt

Most of the rotten foods in the list above are an acquired taste. And, coincidentally, most rotten foods are the result of someone trying to extend the usefulness of a food by extending its due date (aka preservation to prevent spoilage), thus staving off hunger.

Can’t really blame/credit any one person for the “discovery” of cheese, or the process of fermenting soy sauce or beer. It is just interesting to imagine why anyone would try rotten food in the first place.

Well, I wouldn”t recommend adding a section in your family cookbook called “Rotten Foods,” but it is fun to think about and perhaps use for idle conversation during lulls in the Super Bowl competition (when you are working on your family cookbook, recipe cards, family reunion, or fundraiser).

Happy Cookbooking,

Erin

Grandma’s Recipe Box, Grandma’s Recipe Book or Grandma’s Recipe Cards: Which Would You Choose?

Grandma’s magic kitchen had the power to transport us. With Grandma’s cookies as sustenance, we could be transported from our backyard tent (made with blankets draped over the clothesline) to wonderfully exotic places we only read about in storybooks. If you had the chance to select one keepsake from your Grandma’s kitchen, either Grandma’s Recipe Box, Grandma’s Recipe Book, or Grandma’s Recipe Cards, which one would you choose?Continue reading

Cookbook Binders Tame the 3 Ring Circus of Family Recipes

cookbook-recipe-binders-1

After years of keeping recipes on recipe cards and on scraps of paper, I have found that one of the best ways to keep recipes is in a cookbook binder.

Cookbook binders are great because they are so versatile. Unlike a hardbound book, cookbook binders can be altered or updated at any time. You can write on the pages, edit them later on your computer, print a new page and exchange it for the old one, and voila, you have fresh new recipe content pages in your cookbook binder.  (That’s how we envision updates to be done at The Cookbook People, anyway.)

Best of all, with a cookbook binder you have the flexibility to change the order of the pages, add or delete whole tab sections, or customize anything else you like. Continue reading

Old Fashioned Recipe Cards are Great

Some people like to keep their recipes on recipe cards instead of creating a family cookbook. Old fashioned recipe cards are still a great way to collect and keep family recipes.

For those of you who prefer this method of preserving family recipes, we have several templates in our cookbook software that allows you to create old fashioned recipe cards in two different sizes (3 x 5 and 4 x 6).

The recipe card design choices below are found in the “Printing” tab by clicking “Recipes.” (Previews are available by clicking the magnifying glass to see your design before you print.) We are considering adding other design choices when we update our software next time, so your suggestions are welcome. For now, here are the choices:Continue reading

Fruit Freshness Chart – Printable

Somebody asked me to put together a printable version of the fruit freshness chart I made here.

So here it is! If there’s much interest, I can make a half page version.

Erin

Download the Printable Fruit Freshness Chart here

Top 5 Ways Cookbook Templates Make Recipes Easy and Fun to Format

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

Make the Copy Shop Bow to Your Cookbook with 6 Easy Steps

You’ve waited 15 minutes in a line at Kinkos. You don’t mind, though. This family cookbook is a labor of love you’ve been working on for four months, and you are so excited to finally be at the point where you are ready to print out 25 cookbooks for your family, your friends, and most importantly your mom. You finally get your turn to place your order, and the magic crashes down around you like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

“Look, lady,” some pimply grandkid behind the counter sneers at you, “What paper stock do you want? How do you want it output? What weight you want? Doublesided or single?” He rolls his eyes. “Never mind. I’m on break.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. So I thought I’d offer some advice on how to take back control of printing your cookbook at a local copy shop. You might still run into that pimply jerk, but at least you’ll be armed for battle:

1. Output the files to PDF. Your local copy shop probably doesn’t know what Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software is, and if you used Word (shame on you) they won’t like handling it anyway. Creating PDF (or Acrobat) files “freeze” the cookbook so text can’t re-flow to different pages and fonts can’t get lost. Nothing is more frustrating to printers and copy shops than missing fonts and files created in software they’ve never heard of. Download a free PDF creator following the link at the bottom of this page.

2. Take it to a good local print shop. I don’t generally recommend Kinkos as I personally find them to be overpriced and of mediocre service. Ask around and find a good copyshop. I always like copy shops where the owner works in the store.

3. Ask for a heavier cover stock for the front and back cover, and 20lb text paper for the interior. There’s a huge variety of paper stocks out there, so why not be a little adventurous and go with a linen or a nice recycled paper. Make sure to have them use clear plastic sheets over the top of the front and back cover, as that will protect from spills. Fancier paper and the plastic sheets shouldn’t really add more than 25% to the cost to the job. If it does, seek a different printer.

4. If you have a limited budget, print a couple of cookbooks out in completely full color. Give those copies to the few people who will really care the most about the book. Your mother should definitely get the full color. For everybody else, just do black and white interior and color front and back cover. The number of color pages in your entire project will have a HUGE impact on the cost of the job. Plan on spending 3-5 times as much on a full-color cookbook as on a black and white cookbook.

5. Have them spiral bind it together. They may default to just using black, but if you ask a lot of print shops have a variety of spiral bind colors. Make sure you get it SPIRAL bound and not comb bound. Comb binding is like this:

Spiral binding is like this:

I hate using cookbooks that are comb bound because it looks cheaper (although it’s not) and it doesn’t lay flat on the counter when you wrap the page back. Spiral and comb binding cost about the same.

6. You can also save money by writing a printing specification and shopping it around to multiple printers to find the best price. A printing specification for your job might look like this:

“I need 20 8.5×11 cookbooks output from my PDF files in black and white double sided interior with full color doublesided covers. I’d also like an additional 5 cookbooks printed in full color throughout, also doublesided.
“For both versions, there are 45 interior sheets for a total of 90 pages of copying in the interior, plus the cover sheets. The interior sheets will be on 20lb laser text/gloss, and the cover will be 60 pound cover gloss. This is an 8.5×11” book when finished.
“Please use a clear plastic cover sheets over the front and back for protection, and spiral bind each book with white spines (if available).
“Please provide for me a quote and an estimated amount of time it will take to complete the job.”

By writing up a printing specification like this, you can just print it out and hand it to three different printers, and they can each put a bid together on what it will cost. Most printers have email, so you can send them the specification and your PDF files without even having to go in the shop. Also, a printing specification takes some of the guesswork out of it for both the printer and you. The printer may be more inclined to give you a better price because he can tell you have your act together.

I guarantee that if you try three printers, one will be at least 25% less than the other two. However, don’t necessarily go with the cheapest. Also think about which one was the most helpful and which one has the best reputation. You might also consider having the copy shop you like the most print up a single book for you to see if it’s up to snuff.

I don’t have a lot of faith in samples that a printer has sitting around in his drawer. You don’t know if the copier used to make those samples is still around, or if that sample is just the very very best they can do. I’m not bashful–I’ll often ask to see a sample of a project they are working on right now.

Regardless, always always ALWAYS print out a single book before you print up 25 books. Look over it closely. Use it for a week. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find something (if not many things) you’ll want to change before you do the 25 book print run.

I’ve been working with printers and copy shops for 15 years, and I know how intimidating they can be to the uninitiated. They tend to seem more rude and patronizing the less you know about what you want. But then a lot of us can come off more standoffish than we mean to in the heat of the moment. 😉

No matter what, never let a copy shop or anyone else take away the magic of what you are doing. Making a family cookbook is a truly special and noble act. It can be a little easier if you go into the copying part of the job prepared for the experience.

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Writing Cookbook Headings…or Expositing on Fantastic Categorizations of Recipe Collection Subcategories

Writing a cookbook the long way

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.

Erin

Top 6 Questions to Ask Yourself About Online Recipes

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.