“Cooking from scratch is something I’ve always done more for others than myself—sort of an act of love that I learned from my grandmother, Mom Mom, and mother,” says Lou Ann McClatchey Kemper of Grapevine, Texas.
The flavors of your childhood can often conjure up memories so strong, they help you feel connected to family members who may not live nearby, or who are no longer around.
“With the smells and tastes, I feel close to them even though they have passed away,” says Karen Hargrave of Cypress, Texas. “I really associate the food with the person and the feeling I had when I was around them. I have a couple of recipes where I can remember almost 90 percent of an evening around the table. The meal will bring back prayers, jokes, and laughter.”
That’s why so many people feel an actual need to preserve these important pieces of family history for future generations. But how best to do that?
Hargrave, whose family recipes primarily come from her mother and her paternal grandparents, uses her computer to organize her collection.
“I asked for them when I got married and typed them into a cookbook that I once gave to all my family for Christmas.” she says. “I now just keep it on Word and add different recipes I run across, so I can pass them down to my two daughters when they move out on their own.”
Others prefer the old fashioned way.
“I have my grandmother’s cookie recipe in my mother’s handwriting on a 3-by-5 index card in my recipe file,” says Kemper. “There’s something so personal about making those cookies, I’ve only shared the actual painting and baking process with people I loved very much—my children, my grandchildren, and my nieces.”
However, with eight brothers and sisters (and countless nieces and nephews) Kemper feels confident the recipe will be around for many years to come.
Family cookbook DIY
Assembling your family’s treasured recipes can be a personal and special gift for family members young and old. Home cook Victoria Leddy of Dallas, Texas, agrees.
“My cousin had a recipe shower for her soon to be daughter-in-law, and we all brought a utensil, nonperishable ingredient, and a family recipe that will be included in a cookbook for her. All the girls in my family want that cookbook!”
If many of your favorite memories come from holiday meals or family gatherings, a scrapbook-style cookbook offers a particularly thoughtful way to pass down recipes along with stories, memories and photos. Here are some suggestions for making your own recipe scrapbook.
“Much like a song, a food or a recipe can invoke deep, meaningful, important memories. Passing down family recipes is a legacy of love,” says Leddy.
By // Stacy Barry
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