Food traditions often linger longer in families and communities than any other custom. And there is no better time than the holiday season to celebrate old recipes!
I recently taught a workshop designed to help people who want to capture and preserve their own family, ethnic, or community recipes, and was reminded just how precious family recipes are.
If you are also thinking about creating a family cookbook (or otherwise preserving and sharing treasured recipes), I hope that the following action plan will help focus your thoughts.
I. TAKE INVENTORY
What family/community recipes, artifacts, photos, etc. do you have?
Who else might have additional family artifacts?
Who else in your family might have helpful skills?
Do you need to interview any relatives?
II. STABILIZE, DUPLICATE, AND SECURE WHAT YOU HAVE
Scan/duplicate what you can
Photograph what you can’t
Store copies in secure location
Clean, stabilize, and store fragile pieces based on professional guidelines, or with professional assistance
III. IDENTIFY YOUR RESOURCES
Other family/community members
IV. PRIORITIZE YOUR GOALS
Scope – What recipes do you wish to preserve?
Intended audience – Are you doing this for everyone in your family? Your children? Your community? Ethnic group?
What will be shared – Recipes as written? Updated recipes? Family photos? Food photos? Stories? Family tree? Poems, essays, or other personal/creative writing?
Tone – Do you want to preserve only happy memories? Or is it important to share stories of family conflict?
V. SHAPE OF FINAL PROJECT
Cookbooks are only one option. You might also create a recipe card packet, booklet, glossy book, scrapbook, calendar, notecards, blog, etc., etc. (Here’s an example of a blog post I wrote about one of my favorite family recipes.)
No matter how you choose to go about it, preserving family food traditions is a wonderful thing to do!