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Family recipes are heirlooms

By Lisa Nicklanovich; courtesy photos

The original recipe card for chop suey, which resident Cari Bavens included in a cookbook she made for her family. A card like this can be scanned and then added to a page of a cookbook as the “art.” A typed up version of the recipe can be added along with the story behind the recipe and even a photo of the finished dish.

If you are lucky enough to have family recipes handed down to you, whether they are handwritten recipe cards, newspaper clippings or in an email, you know it’s a responsibility. You want to keep these family heirlooms safe and accessible for future generations to use and enjoy. Just as there are many different ways to make chocolate chip cookies, there are many ways to preserve those treasured recipes.

Scanning original recipe cards or newspaper clippings is an important first step in extending the life of the original recipe. Holly Masone said, “I tried to keep as many of the recipes ‘as is’ as I could. Some I traced over the faint writing in darker pencil or pen so it would show up on the scan/page. I loved the way they looked with the stains and wrinkles of longtime love and use.”

Cari Bavens gathered treasured family recipes from her cousins and aunts and put together a recipe book for her dad, who is an avid cook. “The recipes really show the diverse cultures and backgrounds of the family,” Bavens stated. Bavens had copies of the cookbook made so she could give one to each of her four cousins who helped gather the recipes, her three aunts and she kept one for herself.

A family cookbook also makes a special first wedding anniversary gift as a neighbor on a community forum pointed out. “I thought it might be nice since my daughter-in-law asked me for a few of my recipes, and since the tradition for a first wedding anniversary gift is paper, it seemed like an ideal gift.”

Photo of family recipe book

The introduction page of a cookbook resident Cari Bavens made for her father. Bavens wanted to create a cookbook that would “bring back and preserve some of our history.” The cookbook includes recipes handed down from her grandparents as well as new recipes that the family enjoys.

While there are many services out there to help create a cookbook with cherished recipes (, or, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Rona Goodman said, “When I got married, I had no clue how to cook.” She collected recipes she had tried that her family liked over the years and put them in plastic sleeves in 3-ring binders. “My son recently got married, and for my daughter-in-law’s bridal shower I made her a copy of the three recipe books just like mine. She told me after the shower that many of her friends all thought that was the best gift she had received. That made me feel so good. When my daughter gets married, I will have a set for her.”

If creating a cookbook sounds too daunting, choose one favorite recipe and get creative. Have the recipe printed on an apron or an ornament. One neighbor had a recipe printed on tea towels for all the women in the family. “It was in our grandmother’s handwriting so it was wonderful,” she wrote.



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