Family Recipes & Cookbooks - Dish Up Some Family History

activities recipes Nov 01, 2019

 “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice, and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers."

- Laurie Colwin

Handed down generation to generation, family recipes are part of our heritage. The kitchen is where families gather and the food we create is deeply tied to our culture and traditions. Cooking keeps memories and loved ones alive.

I love making my grandmother’s meatballs. I can hear her voice with me as I shop for the ingredients, telling me how to select the best produce and what things used to cost when she grew up. I can feel her next to me as I form the meatballs with my hands,  the way she taught me as a child. I pair it with my great-grandmother's spaghetti sauce. As it simmers on the stove, the smell takes me back to her kitchen and Sunday suppers.  Making this dish is my way to honor my family and it’s always a big hit!

Whether it’s meatballs, cookies, or coleslaw, cooking and sharing family recipes is a powerful way to experience and preserve your family history.

 So let's rediscover and make some culinary memories!

Step 1 - Select a recipe or a menu

Gather the family cooks for a culinary council. Will you cook one recipe or an entire meal? Start small and agree on one family recipe to make. Or, if a holiday is around the corner, go big and attempt a memorable menu using several family favorite recipes.

Step 2 - Contact the original (or best) chef

Contact the original chef, if available, to get the recipe. If the recipe has been handed down for generations, contact the chef who cooks it best. Write down the ingredients and instructions.

Next, add a dash of family history to the mix and ask around for the following:

  • Why is the dish is meaningful to your family?
  • Who first made the dish? When and Why? Can you get a photo?
  • When is it traditionally served?
  • How is it served?  What is it served with?
  • What the secret in the sauce?

Step 3 - Cook the Recipe

Everyone in the family can participate. From shopping, to prepping, cooking, and setting the table. Ask the chef who makes it best to show you to cook it. 

As you prepare the dish, take pictures or record it on your smartphone. 

Step 4 - Dine and Shine! 

Sit down together and enjoy the dish. Take pictures of your accomplishment. Share online on your family website or on social media. Create family recipe cards. These are great gifts for newlyweds or kids moving out on their own.

Start a family recipe journal or cookbook. These are great fundraisers for family reunions. 

I created the Our Family Recipes memory journal because I couldn’t find a recipe book that included all the sections I needed to record my family’s favorites. Not just room for the ingredients, but space to record everything that makes the family dish or menu special.


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