Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cookbook Project

A few years ago back in late 2009  I came across a blog called "Sew Liberated" and read a post on her experience creating her own Family Cookbook.  I've always wanted to create my own after seeing her post and my sisters and I have talked about it over the years because we have our family favourite recipes as well.  She used a company called "TasteBook" and my understanding is that along with your own family recipes you can also select from a huge range of available photos or recipes to include in your cookbook if you like.  So lets say for instance that you've made some fresh pasta but haven't ever taken a beautiful photo of it, you could search their site and just include a picture from their website of theirs. 

The great thing about this particular cookbook is that it's in a binder format so later down the track if you need to get some more pages printed you just order those and then pop them into the binder.  In other words, if during the year you come across other great recipes given to you from family and friends you can just go ahead and get them printed and add to your book.  I was immediately drawn to the cover of old handwritten faded recipes and it reminded me of my own mothers "spirex notebook" which she hand wrote hers in.  I did have a conversation with my Mum back then and we spoke about her hand written notebook of recipes.  I will have to take another look into this as I want to photograph those pages so I can include my own mothers hand written recipes as they are personal and have history and meaning.  I could scan them page by page however the quality would be better if I just take a photo of them.

So the family cookbook has always been on my "wish list" when I get around to it (like finishing up December Daily 2011 and WITL 2012 (printing and photo book).  The other day I came across Sarah's blog again called "Clover Lane" and she has written about finally creating the most beautiful Family Cookbook called "Cooking on Clover Lane".

This was all the motivation I needed to start this project.  This is not a project that will be finished in a month and not something I will spend every day on however what I will do is start the process of going through my recipe binders to see which recipes I still use, which ones I have filed and will probably never make.  Just because I tore something out of a magazine years ago and its' in the binder it doesn't mean it can't be thrown away.  I started out with the one 3 ring binder with tabs for the different types of recipes.  Over time the file got so big so I decided to get smaller 3 ring binders and they would have their own recipes.  This way it was a light file to get down off the top shelf of the pantry and it was more manageable rather than keeping the one big file and every time I opened the binder it was so full, they would fall out.  So I solved that problem by smaller binders but now I want to put them into a photo cookbook with some of my photography.  Below is a picture of my pantry at my last house and the white binders up on the top shelf are what I'm referring to.  It would be good to replace all those with one book because I have a much smaller pantry at my new house.

Sarah's aim was to take a photo of her finished recipe however, after a while that seemed like a huge task (did I mention she is the mother of 5 children) so where she didn't have a picture to go with the recipe she substituted it for a family photo.  This makes it so personal and I just loved the idea.  A photo for each recipe reminds me of the movie "Julie and Julia"....could prove to be a bit obsessive.  If you had a hand written recipe that you always use that was from your Grandmother perhaps you could scan the B&W photo of your Grandmother on the opposite page.  Just because she gave you her jam drop recipe it doesn't mean you have to have a pictures of  jam drops.  I think everyone knows what a jam drop looks like so a picture of your Grandmother would be more personal.  It's your book and you are the creative director in charge.

My goal would be to have a cookbook by Christmas but it's not a deadline, just a wish.  I am rallying a few friends (half of them don't know this yet) to jump on board and do one for their family, the more the merrier.  I thought we could start by putting forward 5 of your "tried and true" best recipes that you know look great, taste great and would be a family favourite.  Apart from creating a special cookbook for your family it would also be an opportunity to get some other great recipes that our friends are making for their families.  I would also include a Christmas Cooking Section as between my sisters and I we have our "traditional" recipes we each make for our Christmas gatherings and Lisa makes the family Christmas Cake which is Mum's recipe.  At least I've already got photos of that I've taken in the past.

Other things you could include along with the recipe is the story of how the recipe came from and the story behind it as it's nice to know those extra little details.

We could get together every now and then and do a taste test and bring the recipe along which is a good excuse for a coffee and a chat and like any project the more the merrier I think.  Each person would do their own photo book, it would not be a collaboration of all these recipes and 10 of the same books printed.  Sorting through current recipes is the first place to start and this could be done in front of the TV at night "keep" or "throw" and declutter.  Also any recipe we come across that is the WOW factor while we are sorting can be shared.  Over the next 5 months or so all you would be doing is gathering "your recipes for your cookbook" (ie, your recipes + the ones others have shared and you like).

The last step is to go on-line and start the photo book process and upload everything.  It looks the above two companies have templates for cookbooks so you don't have to be a designer to create one.

Getting together with my friends with laptops for a few hours and coffee would definitely be on the cards as women can multi-task really well.  We can upload photos, drink coffee and carry on two different conversations with two different people at the table at the same time.  Sounds like fun to me and there won't be any shortage of "what will I make for morning tea".

Have you thought about gathering your family recipes and combining your own beautiful photos into a lovely book?  If you know of other great companies doing "cookbooks" that you have tried or heard about I would be interested to hear about your experience with them.  I love the idea of the binder so I could add a recipe when I got more of them but the "Cooking on Clover Lane" Blurb style book is what I would like to do.  I could always start the first one off with Part 1 so that there could be a Part 2.  Either way preserving your families recipes and having a personalized cookbook is something I will be doing.

If any of you have Julie Goodwin's first cookbook the style of that book was brilliant and on the inside covers it has copies of hand written recipes on top of each other like patchwork.  When I saw the inside cover I remembered about Mum's spirex notebook.  I'm very excited to be starting this project and at the end of it all I will be able to share my cookbook.

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