How to preserve your
recipe at a time
By Daytona Strong
WHEN HER MOTHER was alive, Costco
member Terry Guzman asked her to write
down some recipes. The resulting notebook
filled with handwritten recipes and stories
later inspired Guzman, who lives in Longboat
Key, Florida, to create her own cookbook.
A wealth of recipes are available in books
and websites, but creating a family cookbook
preserves family history in a personal and
evocative way. Thinking about compiling a
collection of your own family’s recipes with
plenty of time for holiday gift-giving? Here
are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
If you’re able, get in the kitchen with loved
ones who cook by instinct, suggests Dianne
Jacob, a Costco member and author of Will
Write For Food: The Complete Guide to Writing
Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More
(De Capo Lifelong Books, 2010).
“Ask family members to make the dishes
in front of you, so you can grab their wrists
and measure before they toss a little of this
and that into the pot,” she tells The Connection.
visual appeal in addition to the appetizing
recipes can be time-consuming. As you consider the design and packaging, remember
the goal you determined at the start.
Identify the goal
Whether you want to honor a particular
relative or create a food-based family history,
establish your goal upfront. Then, focus on
meaningful recipes rather than trying to create
the most impressive dishes, suggests Costco
member Alice Currah, Seattle-based author of
Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes
for Every Family Occasion (William Morrow,
2012), a traditionally published cookbook of
family favorites that grew out of her blog with
the same name.
46 ;e Costco Connection APRIL 2013
Interview relatives about their favorite
dishes, taking notes about anecdotes as you
go. Scour old recipe cards, binders of recipes,
even old church cookbooks.
Edit, edit, edit
With materials collected, it’s time to scrutinize the content. Establish a style guide at
the beginning to ensure consistency in recipe
format. For heirloom recipes, consider noting
adaptations and including a copy of the original handwritten recipe for an illustration.
Design and print the book
Stories and photos add richness. But
producing a full-color book dripping with
Consider going electronic
When Costco member Elise Bauer
started SimplyRecipes.com—now a major
food blog—she wanted to collect recipes in a
way that would allow friends and family to
access recipes from anywhere in the world.
“Each has its place,” she says. “I view the
website like a living document, something
that is flexible and changeable. A book is
more like an archive, more fixed in place.”
Ultimately, format takes a back seat to
having a collection of recipes and stories that
can be passed down, as was the case with
“When my grandchildren fix
these recipes they’re going to know
their nana is right there, even if I’m
not,” Guzman says. C
Seattle-based freelancer Daytona
Strong is working on her own
family cookbook. She writes
about her family’s heritage
through the lens of food at
Plan your vision—but keep it simple
How many recipes? Stories? Photos? This
sort of project can easily take on a life of its
own, which is why Jacob advises people to
keep it simple. While most traditionally published cookbooks include at least 75 recipes,
it’s possible to create a lovely book with far
fewer. Also, if family members express interest, feel free to delegate the work.