Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writing My Cookbook

Since childhood, I have always enjoyed creating in the kitchen and trying family recipes.  I wanted to preserve this heritage of cooking, and also provide an opportunity for the other sisters in my church to do the same.  I invited everyone to contribute at least five recipes.  The result is The Fruit of the Spirit, 27th Anniversary of Locust Fork Branch Cookbook.  I also recorded a brief history of the branch as the introduction.  
At one time women "cooked out of necessity, but with pride and confidence,"  (Lynn Anderson, Country Woman, J/F '00).  I think that's what's missing in a lot of homes today.  I enjoy seeing women and men and children take pride in their cooking and develop confidence in this skill.  For years I heard folks belittle real cookery, and yet some of the most famous (and wealthy) people in the world are chefs!  Our family loves watching Master Chef.  Cooking really can seem like magic.  To a small child, mixing a soupy concoction and pouring it on a hot griddle which turns it into chocolate chip pancakes is no less than a small miracle!

One of my favorite things is to collect cookbooks from the past.  I especially like old books on preserving food.  Some of the information in these old books are all but lost.  Just today I found another book on this subject and thought, if the economy crashes at least I'll be able to learn how to cook from scratch--without a grocery store and modern conveniences if necessary.

Whenever possible, I like to get copies of recipes written by my friends and relatives in their own handwriting.  It's especially poignant when the recipes are from loved ones who have passed on.  I like to make notations next to every recipe I've ever tried in each of my cookbooks (usually smiley or frowny faces or I might suggest less or more of an ingredient or omit it completely).  These help me know what I have tried and whether the recipe was worth trying again.  Who knows, maybe some great grandchild one day will try the very same recipe and follow my advice.  Below is a recipe from my late Aunt Phala.

Sometimes I challenge myself to try every recipe that sounds interesting in each of my recipe books.  I could while away the hours just sitting quietly, reading my cookbooks.  I also have an "Idea Book" that is full of recipes clipped out of old Southern Livings, Taste of Homes, etc.  I look at this book for my weekly menus before going to the grocery store.  Then I try the recipes.  If I don't like the dish, I throw the recipe away.  If I love the dish, it goes into a 3 x 5 recipe file.  If I use the recipe enough, then I type it into my latest recipe book I'm creating on the computer using Typensave (more on that in a minute).

Sometimes I'm looking for a new peanut butter cookie recipe to try, or meatballs, or picnic sandwiches.  These are filed in my extremely obese "Idea Book" under Cookies, Appetizers, and Special Meals (or Lunches).  Of course I have a Large Crowds section complete with wedding cake recipes and ideas.

Typensave is a computer program that I got from Morris Press Cookbooks ( At their website they give you step-by-step instructions.  I made sure my church cookbooks would sell for $5 each.  I was not trying to make any money off this project so I did the typing myself and used every coupon and cost-saving tip they offered.  I looked at a lot of different companies, but Morris had the best-looking cookbooks and the easiest set-up.  You can even arrange for contributors to go on-line and type in their own recipes!  It couldn't be any simpler.

Another great idea for publishing a cookbook for your own family is to blog your family favorite recipes and then use a site like the following to print the blog:

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