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:
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!
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).
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.
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!”
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!
So you’ve bought a wood spoon or spatula (or both) from somewhere (hopefully us right here!) If you bought bamboo, you are pretty much done. It’s such a hard, non-porous wood that it’s not going to absorb a lot of oil. If you bought something of another hardwood, such as the beechwood in the above example, you should apply a quick coat of oil to it to give it a much more interesting, pretty color, as well as vastly improve it’s life span.
We really recommend walnut oil. It gives this really rich, interesting color, and it smells absolutely fantastic.
Just go to your local grocery store’s olive oil section, and you’ll probably find one bottle somewhere in there of walnut oil. Buy the smallest bottle, because you’ll really only use a tablespoon or two of it. Pour it onto a paper towel, give it a wipe, and in 20 seconds you’ll be shocked at the difference!
If you’re likely to cook for somebody with very extreme nut allergies, there are other (less deep and pretty) alternatives. Coconut oil, rapeseed oil and mineral oil all work well.
Here’s a look at own tests of oiling spoons and spatulas with different household cooking and mineral oils:
A quick google search of course brings you to heavy hitters like AllRecipes.com and FoodNetwork.com, but sometimes you want quality over quantity (and clever people who know how to top search engines). Besides, a lot of the recipes on those sites are kind of bland, or have been modified 20 ways until Tuesday to make palatable in the comments, which means what gets voted up isn’t actually what was cooked.
Here are a few of my own favorite recipe websites organized for carefully curated cooking content:
Serious Eats has a fantastic Food Lab column that I love. Beautiful easy-to-follow photographed instructions and fantastic recipes. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is a genius! Plus, they describe not only what you are doing but why, which can be helpful in learning cooking in general.
The Kitchn is another genius recipe site organized with just fantastic quality. You’ll be in there for years trying to get through it all.
I love Nonna’s Cooking for it’s super-simple interface and lots of user additions.
Beth from Budget Bytes
Budget Bytes is the best site on the internet for cooking within your means! Beth not only tells you how to cook, but what it’ll cost per dish. Smart.
Collect your family’s recipes and compile them in a book for a truly delicious heirloom.
What would Thanksgiving be without your aunt’s famous pumpkin pie? If Grandpa doesn’t bring his special chocolate swirled fudge to holiday get-togethers, chances are a family riot might break out! (Well, not really, but you get the idea.)
Recipes are quite often handed down from generation to generation, handwritten on food-stained index cards or scrawled onto lined paper tattered over time.
Now imagine collecting some of those favorite family recipes and compiling them into a cherished cookbook everyone can enjoy. You’ll need a little time for this project and we all have busy lives, but, with a little perseverance and a lot of love, you can put together a wonderful family heirloom that will be cherished for years to come.
Making a list
First, make a list of all the recipes you would like to include in your book. Try to keep it manageable and don’t shoot for too big of a book to start with. Try maybe 15 or 20 recipes as a springboard and work from there. If you aren’t sure which to include, start contacting family members for their favorite recipes and ask them to contribute. Be sure to list the names of the family members you’ll need to contact for each recipe.
Collecting the recipes is the hardest part
Remember, everyone is busy. It’s quite possible that one of the recipes is only used once a year. Asking a cousin to find that recipe between her son’s soccer practices, her daughter’s dance class, work and making dinner might not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s probably not on the top of her priority list. Try to make it easy for people to submit by creating a written recipe template they can fill out, offer to let them email it to you or let them dictate it to you over the phone.
Decide on the contents
If you’re feeling especially ambitious, photographs and quotes from the recipe’s creators can make nice additions to your cookbook. If you are pressed for time, however, you may want to consider keeping the book design simple, or just using a few clip art images instead. Remember: Collecting the recipes will take time — as will collecting photographs and gathering quotes. Keep all of this in mind when planning what will go in to your book.
If your deadline isn’t looming, here are a few ideas for personalizing your family cookbook:
Family interviews – Try asking questions about the recipes to be included. How many generations has the recipe been handed down? Who started the tradition? What special memories are associated with this particular recipe?
Photos and other art – Include family photographs of holiday gatherings, vintage photos of descendants or even hand-drawn artwork from the young members of the family.
Handwritten recipes – Make use of original hand written recipes — even those on aging recipe cards. Scan the recipe and use it as a photo in the book. This adds nostalgia and authenticity to your collection.
Collection of memories – Ask family members for their favorite memories about certain recipes and the relative that usually prepares it.
Quotes – Did your grandma always say “A pinch of pepper goes a long way,” or do you remember her uncanny ability to never waste a thing? Quips and quotes add personal touches to the pages.
Food photos – If you’re feeling ambitious and you have extra time, make a few of the submitted recipes and take pictures! They will make a wonderful addition to your cookbook.
Choosing a publication method
In its simplest form your cookbook could be created in a word processing document then printed out and bound together by hand. If you prefer something a little sturdier, however, several companies offer private publication. We here at The Cookbook People offer a cookbook making software allowing you to create this wonderful masterpiece using your home computer.
Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software (CD or Download) here
Prices for these services vary depending on the size of your book as well as the number of pages needed. There are also options for soft and hardcovers, and even hardcover with “lay flat” pages. Research the different options each company offers to find the best option for you.
Whether you decide to print the pages yourself, take them to an office printer or use online software, your results will be heartfelt and appreciated. Family cookbooks preserve wonderful memories and will be cherished by all that receive them.
Carefully designed to match nearly any kitchen or refrigerator, we invented this kitchen conversion chart to be durable, washable, useful, and (of course) beautiful.
It will easily and attractively fit on any side-by-side fridge door, yet also look great on over-under fridge doors. The tans, yellows and umbers in the chart help it match practically any modern kitchen cabinet from oak to cherry to mahogany to maple to white, while also showing nicely against stainless steel refrigerators.
This chart packs so much information that great cooks will wonder how they did without it. Magnetic Chart
Want to try making fried chicken like the Colonel? We don’t have the Official Recipe, but our test kitchen came up with the closest equivalent. Give it a shot!
1 frying chicken, cut into frying pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Pkt. (dry) Good Seasons Italian Dressing (The 11 or so herbs and spices!)
1 Envelope Lipton (or other brand) Tomato Cup of Soup
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup milk
Vegetable oil to cover bottom of your skillet; about 1/2 inch deep.
1. Combine eggs and milk. Set aside.
2. Combine flour with the Italian dressing and soup mix.
3. Dip chicken pieces in milk-egg mixture and roll them in the
flour-seasoning mixture. Repeat procedure.
4. Fry pieces over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, turning often.
5. Remove from fire. Drain and serve.
Possibly from the depression (the one in 1929) or maybe even earlier. A pie with only 3 ingredients?
It is similar to a custard pie, but not as heavy. I usually put cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg in mine, though I have made it with coconut, which is delicious! It really is versatile, you can even make a chocolate version by adding cocoa powder and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. My husband’s favorite is orange, I just put a few drops of orange extract in the filling and zest some orange peel on top.
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups real cream
Pie shell (homemade or store bought)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine sugar and flour in a mixing bowl
Hand whisk in cream a bit at a time
When thoroughly mixed, pour into pie shell
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is set
You can serve it hot, but I prefer to chill mine and serve it cold with some nice hot tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!
These Ham and Cheese sliders are simple and crowd pleasing sandwiches. Ham and melted cheese topped with a poppy seed butter sauce.
I know what you are thinking…ham and cheese sliders; does that really require a recipe? The answer is YES it does. These have so much flavor. Sure you have your classic ham and cheese sandwich as the base of the recipe but then you top it with a flavorful poppyseed sauce. The sauce is a combo of Worcestershire sauce, onion, mustard, and butter that makes these anything but ordinary. These can be made ahead for a party and are kid friendly because they are small and familiar.
I hate mustard but couldn’t taste the little bit of mustard in the sauce. I don’t know about you but sometimes I just want to cook something that I know kids will eat without complaining about it.
These are great as an appetizer or make it a meal.
24 white dinner rolls
24 pieces honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
⅓ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup miracle whip
Poppy seed sauce:
1 Tablespoon poppyseeds
1½ Tablespoons yellow mustard
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm. Note: Sandwiches can be assembled ahead of time. I don’t like to do it more than a day ahead because they can get soggy from the mayo mixture.
Salty goodness from the bacon and sweetness from the brown sugar. The best of both worlds.
1 package (16 Oz. Size) Little Smokies Sausages
1 pound Bacon, Strips Cut In Half
1 stick Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar, For Sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the bacon slices in half and wrap each smokie with a half strip of bacon. Place all the wrapped smokies in a single layer in a baking dish, or rimmed sheet pan. Then melt the butter and once the butter is melted, pour it over the smokies. Then take some brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the smokies. Bake for about an hour or until bacon is nice and crisp
I guarantee if you make these, they will be gone! I made them for a gathering and everyone just kept eating them, and eating them.
Even if you have already gotten your ingredients for Thanksgiving stuffing, no worries, you can still make this recipe and bake it in a bundt pan. Any stuffing recipe will work I would just add an additional 3 eggs to your recipe to ensure the stuffing stays moist.
I think this is absolutely gorgeous and will definitely be a show stopper on your dining table!
Some mild cheddar and colby jack cheeses, salami, and Flipside Pretzel crackers for the feathers. Two peppercorns for the eyes, half a pistachio shell for the beak, and toothpicks for the legs (basically whatever you can find in the pantry) and a folded fourth of a piece of salami for the waddle, and that’s how you make a cheese tray turkey. This is an easy make ahead platter that all will be talking about.
There is no simpler way to track a favorite recipe than the recipe card. A deceptively simple rectangle of paper, the modern recipe card is the ultimate low-tech tool for saving and sharing recipes for current and future generations. Thanks to the internet, there are also now a variety of free options for creating beautiful recipe cards that will do your recipes justice.
There are generally 3 sizes of recipe cards to consider. The 3×5” card is the standard card for most of the last 100 years. (Our own 3×5 recipe cards can be found here.) The old recipe card boxes they fit into were designed for America’s small kitchens. As kitchens expanded, so did the capacity of recipe boxes and binders to allow for the now standard 4×6” recipe card. (Our 4×6 recipe cards are here.) The vast majority of all current recipe cards are this size. In the past decade a few brands have expanded to 5×7” recipe cards. (Ours are here.) You may want to avoid these, however, because while they may fit your own binder they may not fit a friend’s binder you wish to share with.
Most recipe cards are designed with around a dozen horizontal lines going across them. Try to choose cards that also have lines on the back to provide you with more space. A good rule of thumb is to use the left side of the card to create an ingredients list column. The right side should be used to make a second column that lists ingredients. In this way you simplify the preparation process.
Recipe cards come in all varieties of colors and designs. Traditionally, they have had fairly tacky simple line art, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Many modern recipe card designs have become their own art form, with ornate paintings, drawings and even photographs. Whichever you choose, try to find ones that allow for plenty of space for writing, with a simple interior that won’t make your writing hard to read after years of use. The artistry of the card should be most pronounced around the borders.
Before the numerous online recipe sharing sites sprang up, the recipe card was the traditional method of sharing favorite recipes with friends. These cards are seeing a popular resurgence, as the hand-written instruction carries a warmth and personalization that simply can’t be duplicated with a “submit” button.
If you are like many family cooks, you have a collection of hand-written cards handed down from previous generations. To ensure they survive to see the next generation, look into recipe card protectors. These plastic slips are very inexpensive, and for a few pennies you can save a priceless written heirloom.
Lastly, a quick Google for recipe card templates should yield a variety of printable recipe cards that will be typed in Word or Acrobat, or can be printed out and then written on by hand. But we’ve gone through that hassle for you and have put more than 400 free recipe cards in one place.
There are few people in our lives more important than our moms. She’s the one who helped you with your homework, hugged you when you fell off your bike (after she had scraped the grit out from the wounds ooohh!). She encouraged you and supported you, even with your craziest plans, and, maybe the most importantly, she’s the one who brought your family together around the dining table every evening to talk over the day’s pleasures and pains. When Mother’s Day comes around it’s sometimes hard to find a gift that really acknowledges her hard work. Here are eight reasons why we think a recipe binder–or a recipe box–make a great Mother’s Day gift.
A selection of some of our newest half-page recipe binders.
1. Help her organize her recipes.
Tabbed dividers from Dotted Cottage Rose recipe binder
Chances are your mom is still busy when it comes to cooking – even if you’re not relying on her to feed you anymore, there’s still those special family holidays and reunions! Organizing a meal can get overwhelming very easily though, even for her – especially when there’s family over she hasn’t visited with for a while. With a recipe binder she can have all those recipes stored in one place – and all our recipe binders come with tabbed dividers to help categorize them. Page protector sleeves make adding more recipes to the recipe binder a snap! No more rummaging through bookshelves and in cupboards!
2. Help her pass on family favorites.
Nothing takes you back like the taste of a cake or pie your mom made regularly when you were growing up – and few things matter to her more than passing on these precious traditions that she worked so hard to cultivate and maintain. It’s more than just a cake – it’s your family’s cultural heritage. As time passes and those family recipes are used less regularly, they’re all too easy to forget – what was it she used to make every Thursday after soccer practice? What was the frosting she always swore by for that chocolate cake? A recipe binder will help her document all these important details for future generations.
3. Help her get started on creating a family recipe collection.
Like many of us, your mom may have been meaning to collect all her recipes in a family recipe binder for years but hasn’t gotten around to it yet. She may not do the school runs any more, take you to ballet class or football practice, but hey, she’s a busy lady still! A recipe binder will help her out – you can fill it with recipes you know she loves to make, or you might want to give her a recipe binder with just page protectors and dividers, so she can decide what recipes go in there. From a selfish point of view it’s in your interest don’t forget – it will make it simpler for you to crib those favorite recipes if they are easy to find!
4. Show her how much you value those meals she used to make.
If your mom doesn’t cook so much these days now that you kids have all grown up (well supposedly!) then a recipe binder that you’ve filled with some of the most cherished family favorites she’s made over the years can still be a wonderful gift. What better way to show her how much all her hard work has meant and continues to mean to you? Maybe she’ll be inspired to make those cinnamon rolls you all used to enjoy every Sunday again – but even if not, it’ll still bring back some great memories.
5. Help ensure a favorite recipe doesn’t get lost forever.
You remember those things…oh what were they, you know, they were sticky and brown and sort of flattish and…we had them that time when… Well,you get the picture. My own mom used to bake a cake that we all loved and for years after her passing my sister and I would check her old recipe books, bake something that we thought might be ‘the one’ only to find that it wasn’t. Was it just the way she made it, we wondered? Did she even have a recipe or was it in her head? Then, one sunny Sunday in my sister’s garden and we were talking about mom, I saw a coy look on her face. She half whispered, “I’ve found it!”. And there it was in an obscure recipe book, the dull title ‘Sultana Loaf’. Mom had even marked it with a pencil and we hadn’t noticed! So the moral of this story is; if you still want to taste those things that you so loved when you were younger, make sure Mom writes those recipes down and hands them on! Buy her a recipe binder or box for recipe cards, and buy yourself one too so that you can duplicate her recipes.
6. Share and pass on your own recipes.
Okay so what about new young moms! Come on Grandma! Share those recipes of yours with your family so that all the little things that you have learned over the years get passed along. The most precious present a young mom or mom-to be can have is the knowledge that she is carrying on, not just the family genes, but those most important hints and methods and nutritional meals that will make her life a little easier when she is worried about what to put in the hungry little mouths around the table. With so many young moms having to work to make ends meet, those old recipes are coming into their own again. You can keep on giving her advice and tips and jot down a recipe for her once in a while, but if you organize it all for her in a beautiful recipe binder, she’ll be able to keep consulting it for years!
7. Make it easier for her to save money and eat healthily with good, home-cooked meals.
I remember when I was a girl that eating at a restaurant was a really big deal. It was a time when there was not much spare cash around for treats. We have got more used to going out to eat in the last few decades (or do I mean half century – whoops! where did that time go?!) but of late we are all having to tighten our belts (literally and metaphorically!) and the cheapest way to eat wholesomely is around the kitchen table. Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma knew all about thrift and nutrition. They may not have learned these things in schools or in magazines or on on TV, but if you look at some of those old recipes you’ll see that Mom ( and Mom’s Mom) really did know a thing or two about eating healthily, cheaply and probably most importantly, satisfyingly. A recipe binder will help ensure that those recipes don’t get forgotten even when the lean days are over – and will make the prospect of cooking dinner rather than ordering a pizza a lot less daunting!
8. A recipe binder is beautiful – and will remind mom of how special she is longer than flowers will!
Full-page recipe binder – Dotted Cottage Rose design
A binder that you invest in now will last a long, long time. I have talked to many of our customers in my time with The Cookbook People, who tell me that the old one they have had for the last thirty years (seriously!) is at last falling apart and they are ready to start again with a new binder and maybe add some new recipes to the old ones. Well, maybe help them out with one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give this Mother’s Day. And remember that , yes, we all have computers but those recipe websites have a limited life span and the surest way to keep those precious foodie moments alive in the memory is the hard copy! So, feel free to buy the candy and the flowers, Mom will love them, and you, just as always. But how about that extra little gift that can say ‘I love you, Mom’ and show her that you recognize how truly special she is.
A recipe box just for you can make cooking dinner a joy.
Have your own personal recipe box.
You may have given quite a few recipe boxes, recipe binders or recipe card sets away to relatives or friends as gifts this year. But have you thought about how much you might benefit from a simple recipe keeping solution yourself? Now a new year is well underway and it’s time to think about your own kitchen needs – and maybe give yourself a gift for once!
Recipe collections are often passed down through the generations, but not everyone has a Great Aunt Sally who made the world’s best mac and cheese. Some of us were raised by busy single parents who just didn’t have time to cook. Some simply don’t have a family legacy in the kitchen. Many of us may still have the family recipes, but still want their own collection to help them find their style as a cook. It’s great to keep passing down traditions, but all great traditions change and grow with time. After all, it is your family too!
Another reason to start a personal collection is if you or someone close to you has a special diet. After all, grandma’s collection from the 40’s probably doesn’t have too many vegan options, to say nothing of gluten-free possibilities. Sometimes diet restrictions can feel overwhelming and isolating. Starting a collection that fits your needs can empower you to handle your specific needs.
So, consider starting a personal collection of recipes, in a recipe box or binder. If you’re starting out, starting over, or just getting adventurous in the kitchen, a personal collection can be a great way to encourage you to develop your skills. A recipe box is good place to start – recipes written on smaller, easy-to-find cards can make things seem less daunting! Most recipe boxes come with subject dividers to help you keep things organized, and you can buy dividers and protective covers for the recipe cards separately too.
To start, don’t over think the project. Choose a system that lends itself to easy organization, and then start collecting recipes. You can find them online, of course, but don’t stop there. The library often has a large selection of cookbooks, including specialty books that you might not consider buying for yourself. Take them home and try them out, then copy your favorites to cards for your recipe box or binder.
A personal collection can be an empowering aid in the kitchen. It can help you to break out as a cook in your own right – and it keeps cooking fun! Even if you already have the family cookbook, it’s never a bad time to start your own collection to be passed down for generations to come.