There is a small bookshelf that lives by our back door, filled with my very favorite irreplaceable books. (My thought is that if we ever had to evacuate with a wildfire approaching, I could grab the whole shelf.) Since we are renovating downstairs and the work crew has to go in and out that door, I brought those books into the sewing room to get them out of the way.
One of my favorites is a little black binder, held together with duct tape. My grandmother compiled recipes into this little notebook — recipe cards from her sisters and friends, newspaper columns, and package clippings.
I love seeing the handwriting of my great-grandmother, grandmother, and great-aunts. And I love getting little glimpses into their personalities by seeing what recipes they saved and shared.
When it was passed down to me, I scanned every single page and made my family members electronic copies. Then, using those pages as a foundation, I made new pages in Adobe Photoshop, blending the recipes with pictures of Gram’s china, silverware, and appliances; family table linens, and all those family pictures of parties and feasts. I just love the fact that now that we can digitize everything, we don’t have to worry about who gets to keep those photos or the one precious copy of a book like this; we can all have it!
(The lovely ladies in the picture above were church ladies who served at my mom and dad’s wedding reception, which was held in the basement of my grandparents’ house.)
I had fun using the Magneto font to make the headings look like refrigerator brand names. (The picture of the boy handing food in both directions came from my mom’s high school yearbook.)
After I printed out the pages, I filled them out with cute scrap-booking stickers. I put together copies and gave them as family gifts for Christmas.
Here is my grandmother, dressed up to barbecue in 1960. I’m not sure if that’s a tablecloth she is holding or a big apron, but that is one woman who knew how to do things properly! I enjoyed getting to know her better through the pages of her recipe notebook, and passing on her knowledge to family members.
That picture above could be my mother. We had or went to a barbecue every Saturday in the early 60s. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Wow! that is a lot of dedication to barbecue! Did she just like it that much? Or was she thinking of opening her own business? You have me wondering!
Gwen, I love this and I’m glad you’re sharing it with your friends. It tells a lot about what a wonderful daughter you are. Love Mom
I just want to reward you all for making sure I get all the family linens! 🙂
What a wonderful gift from your elders to you, and from you to others in the family. I don’t know that my mom had any cookbooks! Probably a Better Homes and Gardens, with the gingham cover. I only guess that because I thought it was important to get one when I was in high school. I do have a small number of her recipes, but I don’t think she enjoyed cooking much. Jim’s mom, on the other hand, had index boxes full of recipe cards. I don’t know who got those, but they are treasure chests. Thanks for sharing.
Did she not need a cookbook because she knew how to make the things you routinely ate? Were you a TV dinner family? An early adopter of microwaves? Or was someone else doing the cooking?
My mom says now that she doesn’t like to cook, but she always did a good job when we were young, and if she didn’t like it then, I never guessed. My sister and brother and I all love to cook. I wish I had more people to cook for!
I think she knew how to make the things we routinely ate. There wasn’t a lot of variety, but never any TV dinners, and no microwave back then. We all had enough to eat, so I guess it is okay. And YES, we ALL love to cook! Kind of funny that way.
We got TV dinners as a special treat whenever we had a babysitter, which wasn’t often, but it was a smart idea of my mom’s, because then if they were going out to eat, we felt like we were getting a fancy meal too. Normally we had one of those “if it’s Wednesday, it must be meat loaf” routines, but that was because my dad liked it that way. So it sounds like we had similar experiences, nothing too exciting but at least always enough!
Fond memories you have scratched! Thank you!
You are welcome!
This is so great.
Thank you, I hope it’s a useful idea for you!
oh , how wonderful. I have a binder that looks almost the same but I haven’t taken those extra steps. And there also some recipes that I would never consider cooking or eating. What a wonderful treasure
Isn’t it Anthony Bourdain who tries food most of us wouldn’t? He should do an episode with some of these recipes from the 50s and 60s! Like that corned beef gelatin salad. That would be an adventure. 🙂
What a great gift you made from your family’s recipes! Something for each to treasure while also adding their own favorites. What a wonderful idea!
That is a great idea! I could have made some decorated but blank pages for them to tuck in their favorite recipe cards! I will have to do that for Volume Two.
its amazing.. how you’ve kept them.. memories last a lifetime, really. and recipes rtoo 🙂
That is so true — my family doesn’t make a lot of these recipes, but there are certain ones we always make at get-togethers, that bring certain individuals to mind. 🙂
We were inspired, really. We are planning to have our own recipes written like those so our future grandchildren can have something to ponder. 🙂
What an amazingly cool connection to your family history. Adding pictures like that brings that history to life. You’ll have to choose some favorite recipes and add some pictures of you and your immediate family as well. It must be fun to see what recipes were well-used for the different generations.
That is a really good idea! I have gone as far as gathering up more recent pictures of holiday get-togethers, but I had not thought of doing a Volume Two, with my own family’s favorites!
What a labor of love! This is spectacular–so fun. I’m going to package up all my old photos and recipes and send them to you so you can do a book for my family, too–‘kay? 😉
Oh, of course! I will require regular batches of handmade gourmet chocolates to keep my strength for the task, and probably some cute vintage kitchen towels to mop my brow as I try to keep Cousin George’s famous barbecue sauce recipe differentiated from Cousin Georgina’s famous butter bean casserole!
What a wonderful thing to do with your book. Hope you get those linens!
Fortunately for me, I am the designated line recipient. The whole family knows I am the uncontested Queen of Textiles. 🙂
[J+D] This is such a lovely idea – not just scanning and sharing, but including in your own life stories. It’s given us some great ideas. Thank you!
Hurray! I’m glad to spark an idea!
A real treasure and a wonderful way to share it.
Thank you! I had so much fun making it and interweaving the recipes, pictures, and ephemera my grandmother had saved. 🙂
What a great idea for scrapbooking. Your family obviously treasured its recipes, though I don’t know about the hotdog one. I have no (as in zero) family recipes as my grandmother cooked from her head and my mother really didn’t cook. However, my son copied down some of his favorites from my recipe files, so he’s cooking them in Texas, where he lives.
The hotdog one was from the collection of one of my great-aunts who was a minister’s wife. We think she might have served it as a gentle hint that they needed either fewer people staying with them, or a raise, so they could afford better contributions to church dinners! 🙂
What a wonderful treasure.
Thank you, I had fun making it!
What a wonderful book. I have my grandmother’s recipe books but hadn’t thought of digitalising them like this to share with the rest of the family. Maybe my three sisters and I should gather the recipes from our childhood and create a book like this with photos and memories to pass down.
You could each do a section, like “breakfast” or however you wanted to do it, and then print out multiple copies and exchange! That way you would have less work, plus the fun of being surprised by how each person did it.
Nice! And great idea to share with everyone.
Such a lovely post – and an excellent idea! I have all the family photo albums here to scan so that – like you – we can share them around. What I have found a problem is that my little A4 scanner doesn’t cope at all well with the large square albums that my mother used to use. I wonder if you have had the same problem, and if so, what scanner you have used?
I was lucky in that her notebook was the small 7 x 10 inch size so each page fit on the scanner. For larger albums, we just take the individual pictures out. It’s more work but I think the quality comes out better than if you were trying to deal with the different thicknesses of paper, etc. I do scan several at a time, then I crop and adjust each one and do a “save as”, then I just hit “undo” to go back to the original scan and do another one. I have had 3 scanners. The first was an HP which I loved, it just finally died. I have an Epson that will scan slides (and everything else) but it isn’t a printer. The scanner/printer I use most often is a Canon Pixma MG6120, and it also does a fine job. The only thing I don’t like is that it takes 6 different ink cartridges and so there is always one low cartridge!
Thank you so much for that detailed info – much appreciated. I had a feeling you were going to say you took the individual pics out! I am just going to have to knuckle down this winter as you have done on your hot hot days and get on with some serious scanning!
It is a slog, but if you scan them at very high resolution, those old pictures are so crystal clear that you will see tons of details you never saw before, and that makes it fun. You can’t really knit or anything while scanning because you have to keep fidgeting with the pictures, but you could listen to podcasts or audio books at the same time, because it doesn’t demand much thought. 🙂
I love the original collection such a treasured piece and definitely one to take in case of emergencies.
Yes, and if I don’t rescue it, all the files are on Flickr so I can reconstruct it. Either that or steal back the one I made for my sister. 🙂 I feel so relieved whenever I get photos uploaded somewhere!
Me too, it seems indulgent but I never erase a SD card to reuse. They are all kept safe once they are full.
What a great idea and you did such a wonderful job. I have a few of my mother-in-laws recipes and cherish them.
I had so much fun making these books. I didn’t get to cook with my grandmother much but she always remembered our favorites and had them ready for us when we visited!
Shared recipes are well and truly included in my books… loved your way of doing them. To me, they are a wonderful way of linking generations.. and for keeping tasty memories..
I have included your blog in Interesting Blogs on Friday Fossicking at
Thank you, Chris
Thank you! When I went back to school for a teaching certificate, in the multicultural class we all brought a recipe, and it was interesting to see how simple a lot of them were, and yet they brought back favorite memories. They really are a wonderful way to link generations as you said.
Sounds great to me… f course, you’ve now given me another job… to make my main ‘family book’ more interesting. My son has his eyes on that, he loves to cook as well. You’ve also given me thought for another blog..
Just lovely–those old stained recipes in practiced cursive! Thanks.
And I don’t know if you read through the comments, but the recipe “Dog Bake” (so beautifully mimeographed) was from the collection of my great-aunt, a pastor’s wife. Just in case you ever need a special idea for a church dinner contribution. 🙂
Oh I love the idea of printing off copies – what a wonderful gift idea and so unique 🙂