Recipes are part of a family's heritage. Every family has favorite recipes that have been passed from generation to generation. Some are handwritten on recipe cards, and others are tucked away in old, worn cookbooks that are slowly falling apart. These treasures won't last ever, and they should be preserved for future generations. One way to make sure these recipes live on is to put together your own family cookbook. Computers have made it very easy for people to accomplish this task--and the work isn't all that hard. Your cookbook could be as simple as 8 1/2" x 11" pages hole-punched and tied together with yarn. Or you could protect the pages inside of a report cover. I've used report covers with a clear plastic front to show off the artwork on the title page of the cookbook. If you have access to a color printer, you can make a beautiful full-color title page or cover for your cookbook. If you don't have a color printer, black and white can look very nice also.
You can set up your word processing program to subdivide your pages into two columns, essentially allowing you to view two 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" pages at a time. (You also need to set your page orientation to "landscape.") When you print out the pages, you can cut them in half with a paper cutter and have the pages bound together with a plastic comb binder. Office supply stores like Office Depot will do this for you for a very reasonable price. I have done many of these cookbooks and usually use colored card stock for the cover. One 8 1/2" x 11" page of card stock cut in half creates the front and back covers. To protect the covers, you can have them laminated, or I have also applied clear contact paper to the card stock before cutting it in half. This worked great!
You can also create recipe "booklets" by subdividing your pages in your word processing program, and then instead of cutting them in half, lay the pages on top of the full sheet of card stock and then fold the pages in half, creating a booklet. You can buy fairly inexpensive staplers that will reach far enough to staple the center of the booklet.
It's that easy! Your cookbook of favorite family recipes is only limited to your imagination. I have seen cookbooks of all shapes and sizes, many with hand-drawn pictures in them. The more you personalize it the better. Make sure to include who you got the recipes from and maybe even which country they originated from. I even saw one that had copies of handwritten letters photocopied onto the back cover of the cookbook--it was very original and definitely a nice touch. One cookbook I did for my family had a dedication page in it that listed all of the people whose recipes were included in the cookbook. It was especially neat because it included my family as well as my husband's.
Family cookbooks make great presents for friends and family members. They can be given for all different occasions, including Mother's Day, weddings, graduations, birthdays, and Christmas, just to name a few. Because you can photocopy them as you need them, they are also very inexpensive. Your family will treasure them.
Copyright 1999. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer, mom, and owner of four home and family web sites.