Oven-gloved hand removing pizza from hot oven with title: How (And When) to Cook in a Convection Oven - and When Not To!

How (and When) to Cook in a Convection Oven

My friend, Ruth, and I used to be so confused about how to cook in a convection oven. After all, we both grew up in areas where wood-burning stoves were common. So having an oven that blows hot air around was quite a breakthrough in cooking for us!Continue reading

B&W family photo album over coloured table of cooking utensils with text: Celebrate Family Cookbook Month - Family History Month

Celebrate Family Cookbook Month – Family History Month

October – Family History Month. But how great it would be to have a Family Cookbook Month instead!

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Friends cheering sport league together overlaid with text "It's a Winner - Oven Baked Beef Jerky Recipe"

Oven Baked Beef Jerky, Guys & Football

With football season coming on strong, including the return of Monday Night Football and tailgating parties, it’s time to start stocking up on those game-watching essentials: beer, popcorn, and beef jerky. Continue reading

Group of students discussing project with text: Making and Selling a Fundraising Cookbook: Unusual and Effective!

Making and Selling a Fundraising Cookbook: Unusual and Effective!

Making a fundraising cookbook is an unusual and effective way to encourage donations for your project.

Gone are the days when people donated just to donate. They now want some form of tangible return. What better form of return to offer than creating a fundraising cookbook to sell. Continue reading

Beach backdrop with hand holding book featuring text:Capture Summer Vacation Memories by Making a Family Souvenir Cookbook

Capture Summer Vacation Memories by Making a Family Souvenir Cookbook

Why not make a custom family cookbook using cookbook software as a great vacation souvenir? It’s a unique memento for every family member!

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10 Tips for Planning a Labor-less Labor Day BBQ

Hard to believe that we are nearly into the Labor Day holiday! The calendar pages for 2009 are flipping so fast that it seems like we are all in cartoon. If you plan to have a few friends and family members over for a Labor Day BBQ, why not make it a labor-less Labor Day BBQ?  After years of hosting labor-intensive parties, I got smarter, so here are my 10 tips for a labor-less Labor Day BBQ:

1. Plan Your Menu
Scribble down all of the options you might like to include on a labor-less Labor Day BBQ menu. You know, five kinds of meats, 10 salads, 4 desserts. (Get over the panic feeling of ”will there be enough?”) Then whittle the list to two items in each category. Think smaller portions instead of gobs per person. It is much easier to make more of one dish than several different dishes.

2.  Create a Countdown Timeline
Plan the ”days before” and ”day of” actions a week in advance of your labor-less Labor Day BBQ so you will take care of the dust bunnies before the doorbell rings. It also forces you to think about what dishes, bowls or trays you might want to dig out of the top cupboard and wash.

3.  Shop Early in the Week
Study your labor-less Labor Day BBQ menu and break it down into individual recipe ingredients. That way you’ll buy only what you’ll need to make each recipe. Try doing your grocery shopping after dinner; the crowds are gone and you can walk off a few extra calories.

4.  Use Shortcuts
There is no rule that everything must be made by you and you alone. There is nothing wrong with using convenience foods for your labor-less Labor Day BBQ. If you do choose to use bottled BBQ sauce, store delicatessen side dishes, or canned beans, just be sure you are familiar with the products to make sure they meet your personal standards.

5.  Be Flexible
Don’t be afraid to change your labor-less Labor Day BBQ menu or substitute other ingredients. Who will know you really wanted to serve Auntie Clementine’s three bean salad (from the family cookbook, of course), but instead served bagged green salad with bottled dressing because you couldn’t find yellow wax beans?  Furthermore, be sure to check the local supermarket ads for seasonal items; these may be on sale and less expensive than the dishes planned on your original menu.

6.  Use the Slow Cooker
Cooking for a crowd can be so easy with a slow cooker. Simply dump all the ingredients into the crock and turn it on. Next thing you know, there’s a tasty dish inside that you barely worked at creating. True magic for your labor-less Labor Day BBQ.

7.  Cook Outside on the Grill
We are talking about a labor-less Labor Day BBQ, so we do expect part of the menu will feature a dish prepared by charcoal or gas grill (instead of using the oven broiler). Cooking outside on the grill keeps the kitchen’s interior heat to a minimum, and keeps the kitchen cleaner, too.

8.  Say Yes to Guest Participation
Whenever possible, encourage guests to bring a dish they would like to share. That way you don’t have to deal with preparing the whole labor-less Labor Day BBQ meal (and it is gentler on your pocketbook). Have a list handy (or in your head) of items that guests can bring to fill out the table when those RSVPs come in.

9. Go With the Flow
Don’t fret the small stuff. Sit down, relax, and talk with your guests so you can enjoy your labor-less Labor Day BBQ, too. You don’t have to serve everyone all the time, and I have found over the years that guests are most capable of taking care of their own needs.  In fact, my party motto is: ”I’ll serve you the first drink, show you where everything is, and then you are on your own.”

10.  Encourage Clean-up
When the labor-less Labor Day BBQ party is winding down, most considerate guests will help put away food, wash dishes, or fold up tables and chairs, if necessary. Some will even take out the trash! By all means, let these helpers contribute. Welcome their good intentions, even if they put the washed and dried coffee cups on the drinking glass shelf.  They are just trying to make it a labor-less Labor Day BBQ for you!

With these 10 tips, a labor-less Labor Day BBQ just might become a family tradition that will sneak into the pages of your family cookbook’s new edition.

Happy cookbooking,

Erin

Cocktails and fruit against black background with title: Hot August Nights - Refreshing Ways to Cool Down!

Hot August Nights – Refreshing Ways to Cool Down!

Looking for refreshing ways to cool down on these hot August nights? Try my list of super-coolers!

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High Altitude Cooking Tips

I am so grateful for all the nice comments we receive here at The Cookbook People.com in reference to my easy-to-use Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. I recently received a wonderful email from Randi Levin of The Muffin Lady Inc. in Colorado who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the special art of high altitude cooking.

Randi was kind enough to send us some suggestions for improving our high altitude cooking tips. By popular demand, she has written a cookbook about high altitude cooking so that others may find palatable success high above the ocean.

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from her email:

Dear Erin and All at Cookbook People:

Please allow me to communicate a few differences between your high altitude cooking tips and mine. I mean absolutely no disrespect at all. MY goal is to help others find palatable success at high altitudes. Most of your tips are worthy and based on scientific information, but MINE are based on decades of experience high above the ocean.

I have been baking and adjusting recipes in the mountains of Colorado for 32 years to date in elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Many of my cookbook recipes originated from family members at sea level, and were adjusted for higher elevations accordingly. Several are actually more than 100 years old, and “to DIE FOR.” (Bless Great Grandmothers!).

I hope these adjustments help your readers.
Enjoy,

Randi L. Levin
The Muffin Lady
Author, Publisher & High Altitude Food Specialist

Dear Randi: I am delighted that you gave us permission to include your additional thoughts and comments here on our website! The table below shows our high altitude tips placed side-by-side with Randi’s suggested comments, which we will be including in our upcoming software update.

From Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software:

Randi’s High Altitude Tips/Comments:

Water boils at a lower temperature (each 500-ft increase in altitude causes a drop of about 1° in the boiling point). For example, at 7,500 feet the boiling point will be 198°. Since it will not be as hot as it is at lower altitudes, you will have to boil it longer to achieve the same effect.

P

Baked goods that include yeast or baking powder will rise faster which may sound good, but it’s not. They will dry out.

P

Boil things longer if you are at an elevation of 5,000 feet or more.

Boil things longer if you are at an elevation of 3,500 feet or more.

Oven temperatures are affected by altitude, so it is sometimes necessary to adjust the suggested oven temperature. For batters and dough, you should increase the temperature by 25° Fahrenheit if you are at an elevation of 3,500 feet or more.

I have lived at 5,000 feet, 6,900 feet and currently at 8,000 feet above the ocean and have never raised the temperature. Actually, for some items, (roasts, biscuits, etc.), I suggest lowering the temperature by 5-25°F. For example, if biscuits call for baking at 425°F to 450°F, I lower the temperature 25 degrees: 400°F to 425°F.

Why: When raising the temperature in dry environments such as the Rockies, Sierras or Alps, all you are doing is increasing the dry heat. Sure the product will work, but it will also dry out much more rapidly. Additionally, the only reason to increase the liquid by 1/4 cup (4T) is so that the excess dry heat may absorb and then evaporate it. The product will still dry out faster when the temperature is raised!

Adjust ingredients that cause your baked goods to rise. Smaller pans work better at high altitudes.

P

Use more liquids (including that used in rice, soups and vegetables) slightly to allow for longer cooking times.

KUDOS, as this is an absolute.

Reduce baking powder

For each teaspoon, decrease by:

3,000 feet 1/8 teaspoon

5,000 feet 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon

7,000 feet 1/4 teaspoon

Reduce baking powder (and baking soda) a smidgen. It is easier and more effective to simply decrease these leavening agents by slightly indenting your finger into the powder when leveling the measuring spoon. You will want to decrease each by 1/4 teaspoon at 9,500-10,000 feet and above!

Reduce sugar

For each cup, decrease:

3,000 feet 0 – 1 tablespoon

5,000 feet 0 – 2 tablespoon

7,000 feet 1 – 3 tablespoon

3,000 feet has minimal adjustments, if any, according to folks I have spoken to. Elevations of 3,500 feet seem to be where the adjustments actually begin. I am at 8,000+ feet, so why would I want to decrease one of my moisturizing agents so drastically? Whenever I measure sugar, I simply measure it to just below the cup line, not by 3 or more Tablespoons. or else I would have a drier product than desired.

Increase liquid

For each cup, add:

3,000 feet 1 – 2 tablespoon

5,000 feet 2 – 4 tablespoon

7,000 feet 3 – 4 tablespoon

Adding 1-2 Tablespoons more liquid per elevation is sufficient. You will not want to add any more until above 10,000 feet.

Additionally there is NO mention about increasing FLOUR by 1-2 Tablespoons per cup. This is one of the most important adjustments, especially when trying to avoid sunken cakes and flat cookies.

Erin

assorted vegetables and wooden spoon on wooden boards with title: When in Doubt Add Parsley - How to Use This Ubiquitous Herb

When in Doubt Add Parsley – How to Use This Ubiquitous Herb

“When in doubt, add parsley,” I said wryly observing my sandwich which had just been served served with the teeniest bit of parsley ever to adorn a plate.

I’m talking a bit of a leaf. It was so small it wouldn’t have been noticed except for the bright green color that broke up the stark white plate.

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Mother and daughter cooking with text: Recipe Book for Kids: Fun summer vacation project

A Recipe Book for Kids Can Be a Fun Summer Vacation Project

Want to keep your kids or grandkids engaged with a fun and memorable project this summer? How about making a recipe book for kids using your Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software?

A recipe book for kids is a great keepsake of their summer vacation. And a great show-and-tell when classmates or teachers ask “What did you do on summer vacation?” Not many children will be able to show their own personalized recipe book for kids! Continue reading

family on sofa in front of time travel tunnel going into huge clock with title: How to Use Your Family Cookbook for Time Travel

How to Use Your Family Cookbook for Time Travel

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time you opened your family cookbook, you could time travel at will? What if you could turn a page in your family recipe book and travel back in time to see how life was in ages past? How about traveling forward in time?

Well in a sense, you can.Continue reading

Bride being showered with petals + title: All Sorts of Gift Ideas!

Wedding Bells & the Recipe Box: All Sorts of Gift Ideas!

“Why don’t you tell people what nice gifts these recipe boxes would make for wedding showers?” Ruth asked.

“When my daughter got married, we struggled to find unique hostess gifts.  These recipe boxes would have been just perfect. You could choose each recipe box design thoughtfully for each person and then add the matching recipe cards. It would make an impressive, well-liked gift.”

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coffee cup sitting on top of closed book and laptop with title: 5 Ways to Tell When Your Family Cookbook is Done

5 Ways to Tell When Your Family Cookbook is Done

“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” Kenny Rogers used to sing this line in a great song about playing cards. That’s also true about calling your family cookbook done. You have to recognize when it’s time to stop adding recipes and go ahead and print.

But how can be sure your family recipe book is complete?

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Recipe card with photo of happy family and title: 3 Reasons Collecting Family Recipes Really Matters

3 Reasons Collecting Family Recipes Really Matters

In the scheme of things, you might think collecting and saving family recipes doesn’t matter much. But collecting your family’s special dishes in a personalised cookbook connects different generations and lets you get to know members of your tribe you’ll never meet.Continue reading

computer showing dark tunnel with title: How to Choose Good Recipe Software & Avoid the Data-Entry Dungeon

How to Choose Good Recipe Software & Avoid the Data-Entry Dungeon

Once upon a time there was a good recipe software, and there was a bad recipe software.

The good recipe software was easy to use, had plenty of options, and left anyone entering data happy and fulfilled.

The good recipe software meant the users could quickly make a wonderful family cookbook filled with beloved recipes, family stories and photographs.

This recipe book became a family keepsake worthy of future generations.

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child laughing at party table with title: How to Please Everyone with a Family Cookbook at Your Reunion!

How to Please Everyone with a Family Cookbook at Your Reunion!

We got a lovely note from Colette Surovy of Canada. Colette made a family cookbook for her family reunion using Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software.

She collected recipes from family members approximately four months in advance of the reunion. The final product was a family cookbook containing more than 100 pages!

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office workers laughing with title: Gifts for Co-Workers - Why Not Make a DIY Cookbook?

Gifts for Co-Workers – Why Not Make a DIY Cookbook?

Gifts for co-workers – whether they’re leaving or celebrating something important – can often be a challenge. So why not delight your favorite co-workers with a do-it-yourself cookbook made on your home computer?

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wooden bowl of salad on white background with cherry tomatoes and rosemary: Cool Summer Salads Take the Heat Off in the Kitchen

Cool Summer Salads Take the Heat Off in the Kitchen

No matter where you are in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer months, the hottest days can make you wish for a cold winter day again.  Iced beverages and lighter meals are the order of the day, and cool summer salads that take the heat off in the kitchen fit the bill perfectly.Continue reading

pieces of different cakes in a circle with big wooden spoon of sweetener overlaid with title: Sweet Success: Using Sugar Substitutes in Family Cookbook Recipes

Sweet Success: Using Sugar Substitutes in Family Cookbook Recipes

Do you have a low calorie food section in your family cookbook? With so many choices in sugar substitutes available now, making baked goods with fewer calories, and many other low-sugar desserts, is so much easier.

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Cookbook people 4x6 tabbed recipe box card dividers with title: How to Get Your Recipes Super-Organized with this simple 5 step workflow

How to Get Your Recipes Super-Organized

Are your kitchen drawers and cupboards overflowing with ‘potentially useful’ recipes? Get your recipes super-organized with my simple workflow!

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