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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Family picnic with text: Easy Meat-free Salad Recipe for Labor Day Picnic

Healthy Labor Day Picnic

Why not gather your family together for a healthy Labor Day picnic with this fabulous meat-free salad?

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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

Brazilian Engraved Teabox

One of our customers sent us this lovely video of a teabox we made for their family in Brazil.

bowl of chili with bread on narrow board placed on warm rug with text: Super Vegetarian Chili Recipe for Couch Potatoes

Super Vegetarian Chili Recipe for Couch Potatoes

This may not be a revelation to some readers, but soybeans taste good. And, if I say so myself, my new soy-soy vegetarian chili recipe is divine! It certainly went down well with my bunch of coach potatoes.

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brown envelope, flowers, scissors and string with card featuring symbol of plate and cutlery and title: 4 Unusual Ways You Can Use Custom Recipe Cards

4 Unusual Ways You Can Use Custom Recipe Cards

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.

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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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Top 3 Cool Soups for Summer

Summer’s bounty of fresh vegetables is always inspiring. Some of my favorite light dinners on hot summer nights are cold vegetable soups made early in the day so the flavors mingle and meld together. I love spending time outside in the patio sipping a cup of cool soup and munching some crusty French bread (slathered with brie cheese, if I get the chance). Hey, I never said these cool summer soups were non-fat dishes!

I have several recipes for cool summer soups, but here are my Top 3 favorites: Gazpacho, Vichyssoise, and Creamy Zucchini. These cool soup recipes have several things in common: They are easy to make; They are delicious; They share some common ingredients so you can shop for all three recipes at the same time.

Try these Top 3 cool soups for summer and see if you want to include one in your own family recipe cookbook:

# 1. COOL SOUP FOR SUMMER

Gotcha Gazpacho
Even people who think they don’t like this Spanish-style cool soup like this one!
1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (your favorite brand)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (or fresh parsley)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
Garnishes: Sour cream, chopped red onions, tortilla chips

Puree in blender the chicken broth with half the can of diced tomatoes and half of everything else except garnishes. When blended, fold in the other half of the ingredients so there is some texture and crunch. Chill well and serve topped with sour cream and chopped red onion. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 4 (or 2 little piggies).

# 2. COOL SOUP FOR SUMMER

Velvety Vichyssoise
A classic smooth and perfect-for-sipping flavorful cool soup!
1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (your favorite brand)
1 2.5 oz. packet leek soup mix (onion soup mix will do in a pinch)
2 cups water
6 medium Russet potatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stalk leek, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
Salt & pepper to taste
Garnish: Chopped green onions and sour cream

Combine chicken broth, leek soup mix, water, onion and leek in a stockpot. Wash and peel potatoes, then slice down into cubes and boil in chicken/onion broth mixture until potatoes fall apart. Mash any remaining lumps with a potato masher. Cool 15 minutes, then slowly blend soup in batches with a little milk until smooth. Add more milk if needed, along with salt & pepper to taste. Chill for several hours. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and green onions. Serves 4.

# 3. COOL SOUP FOR SUMMER

Creamy Dreamy Zucchini Zoop
A tasty way to get your veggies in a cool summer soup!
2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth (your favorite brand)
8 medium zucchini, cubed (can also add cauliflower, carrots, spinach, if desired)
1 8 oz. container chive & onion cream cheese spread
1 cup milk
Chopped green onions

Cook zucchini in chicken broth until tender. Remove cooked zucchini from broth, and 2 cups broth, and set both aside to cool 15 minutes. While the zucchini is cooling, dice up the flavored cream cheese and add it to the remaining still hot broth, stirring occasionally. While it melts, puree the cooked zucchini with some cooled broth in small batches until smooth. As you work, pour the pureed zucchini back into the broth with melted cheese. Add milk. Stir thoroughly with a whisk. Let cool, then refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped green onions. Serves 4.

Happy cookbooking,

Erin

Family Recipe Cookbooks for Christmas: Start Now

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:

August
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.

September
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.

October
Collect photos of your family members and add to them to your family recipe cookbook in the People tab.

November
Use family gatherings to take any missing photos that you want to include.

December
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?

Happy cookbooking,

Erin

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

Pizza Baked on the Barbie

bbq pizza photo

A few years back I was remodeling my kitchen and I wanted to install a pizza oven. I thought it would be fun to make homemade pizzas for family and for parties.

At the time, there were very few options that didn’t cost a ton of money. All the so-called “designer” pizza ovens were not only thousands of dollars, but the cost to install them was also a bit outrageous. We are talking about pizza, not truffles and caviar (although those might be interesting toppings).

So, I resigned myself to the fact that I would not enjoy crafting my own pizza recipes after all. Sigh.¦

Suddenly, I realized I already had a pizza oven. It was called a barbecue grill! Mine happens to be gas-powered with a thermometer on the outside of the heavy lid. (It is very important that the barbecue grill unit be heavy duty because these pizzas bake at around 650ºF-700ºF, much hotter than your regular kitchen range oven.)

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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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