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Cooking Up a Legacy

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istock_000006023655xsmallFood: We celebrate with it. Bond with it. Mourn with it. Experiment with it. Impress with it. Reach out with it. Heal with it. Love with it. Who doesn’t long for the taste of dishes like mom’s meatloaf and grandma’s apple pie – with a big dollop of all the memories they evoke?

Bethany Village resident Elinor Thomas, 89, felt that tug of nostalgia and she did something about it. In 2003, Elinor collected some of her family recipes in a 248-page spiral-bound book. The book’s oversized-type makes it easy to read for those who, like Elinor, have macular degeneration.

Then Elinor took her book one step further: she used the on-demand publishing company Friends and Family Cookbook Publishers to edit, format (with photos!) and print her book, The See-Easy Large Print Cookbook, which now sells for $19.95 on the tools for independent living website MaxiAids. Because Elinor prints only the number of books she needs at any given time, her costs remain manageable. Elinor reports that she has another recipe book waiting in the wings. First, however, she wants to market The See-Easy Large Print Cookbook to Walmart and local bookstores.

Last year, Friends and Family produced Bethany Cooks, a collection of favorite recipes from Bethany residentsand staff ($15 in the gift shop). And who helpedorganize the 150+ recipes and picturesfor publication, plus run a contest to namethe cookbook? None other than Elinor Thomas and several other residents.

“Of course, you don’t have to sell your cookbook to enjoy making one,” Elinor says. “A legacy cookbook can be as simple as a collection of your recipes or family recipes in a three-ring binder, or you can have pages reproduced and spiral bound at any copy store. Your family will love it, as my two children and my husband Ray’s five children do.”

Here are a dozen tips to consider when thinking about your family cookbook:

1. Choose a time frame. Are you going to look back several generations or focus more on your immediate family and the recipes they would remember?

2. Pick a theme. Do you want to include the full gamut of recipes from appetizers to desserts? Perhaps you want to focus only on holiday recipes? The name of your cookbook will probably flow from your theme.

3. How many recipes do you want to include? Becoming too ambitious might take away from the fun of creating the book, so be realistic.

4. Do you want to include pictures, past and present, of family and friends?

5. Do you want to write a short paragraph about why you have included each recipe – perhaps recall some of the memories attached to the dish?

6. As you pull together recipes, check to be sure you have all the ingredients that are used listed and that all the ingredients listed are in fact used in the instructions. Ingredients should be listed in the order in which they are used.

7. Don’t forget the cooking temperature and time as well as the suggested number of servings.

8. Check some of your favorite cookbooks and food magazines to see how recipes are written and pick a simple format you like. You can also look at books such as The Recipe Writer’s Handbook for guidance.

9. Don’t be shy about offering cooking and serving tips.

10. If you are writing to family members to ask for recipes, include a sample recipe format for them to follow and ask them why they chose the recipe they are sending you. Be sure you include the name of the person who contributed the recipe in your book.

11. If the you or the person you are asking for a recipe doesn’t have an email account, send a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your request. Set a reasonable deadline for getting recipes back.

12. Be sure to send everyone who contributed a copy of the finished product.

How does your family share recipes and pass them along from one generation to the next? Share your comments.

Written by Bethany Village

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