A Family Cookbook Can Be a Living Heirloom

Almost every family has a collection of family recipes that we want to protect and preserve so that we can pass on our family cooking tradition from one generation to the next. Let's face it, food and cooking is one of the universal ways we connect with our families.

Creating a family cookbook is one of the best ways to capture, preserve and share our special family recipes. If you haven't created your family cookbook yet, you should give this some serious consideration. It's not as difficult as you might think. And your family will truly appreciate this gesture of love.

In fact, with today's powerful online technology and tools like we provide at Family Recipe Central, it's easier than ever to collaborate online with your family members and produce your own family cookbook.

Even more compelling, we offer a unique approach to family cookbook publishing that let's your family cookbook become a living heirloom.

So how can a family cookbook become a living heirloom? Well, first consider the more traditional approach to putting together a family cookbook. It's much more a manual process. It goes something like this ....

The Traditional Family Cookbook Publishing Approach - A Manual Labor of Love

  • You get the wonderful idea to create a family cookbook (with all the enthusiasm and excitement up front ...).
  • You dig into your own recipe folders, boxes, and archives for family recipes.
  • You contact other family members and ask them to send in recipes.
  • And don't forget the pictures, photos and images. You'll ask your family members to send those in too.
  • You get to be the editor (this is joy if you like to write and compile the material for the cookbook ...).
  • You organize your recipes, stories, and photographs and layout the sections for your cookbook.
  • You probably have some image scanning to do to bring some of those old photographs into the digital electronic age.
  • Some cookbooks can be recipes only, but telling the family stories alongside the recipes is so much better. So you have some writing to do and editing (if other family members are sending in stories).
  • You'll most likely use your computer as a word processor to start compiling the cookbook, one page at a time.
  • You start keying in the recipes into a consistent format so they look nice in your family cookbook. Most likely, your family members have sent in the recipes in every different format imaginable. Maybe you want to preserve the individuality, but a consistent format for the recipes is so much nicer.
  • Oops, someone left out an ingredient here or there, or didn't make the recipe instructions clear, so you have some follow-up to chase down and fill in some of the missing details. Phone calls, emails, visits, it's all good!
  • After considerable creative effort, your family cookbook is starting to take shape.
  • With most or all of the content complete, you're ready for the final layout and preparation.
  • Don't forget the "table of contents" at the beginning, and be sure to line everything up with the right page numbers.
  • Chances are that the rest of your family would like their own copy of the cookbook. You weren't going to just make a copy for yourself, now were you?
  • So track down a printer who can print a reasonable number of copies at an affordable cost. Maybe something like 50 to 100 copies (there are minimums for print runs usually).
  • Then your printer tells you that your document files, layout and photo images aren't quite ready for printing. What's this "pre-press" stuff all about? Your printer can help you with this step (for a fee, of course). Or you can work out some of this yourself with your printer's guidelines and feedback.
  • At this point, it got a little more complicated than you imagined at the start, but it's worth it. Trust me, you'll be thrilled once you get to the finish line.
  • OK, everything's all set. You're ready to print. You've double-checked and triple-checked all the spelling. OK, here's a tip. Have someone else proof-read your final copy before you print. You'll be amazed at what a fresh set of eyes will uncover.
  • The printer tells you 2 weeks, and your first 50 copies of your family cookbook will be ready.
  • 2 weeks come and go, the printer is a little late. But you do finally receive your shipment of family cookbooks in about 4 weeks. That's OK, it was worth the wait.
  • You break open the box and have a look. Yes, yes, your cookbook is beautiful! As you hold the cookbook in your hands, and browse through the pages, you're quite please. Congratulations, you did it!
  • Oh no, you find a mistake on page 45. An ingredient is spelled wrong. Oh well, that's OK. A few mistakes here and there, kind of makes the family cookbook a little more real. Over the next few days, you find a few more mistakes and things you might like to change, but that will be for next time. The book is good!
  • Now you start sending them off and mailing to your family members. Or perhaps everyone will show up at the family reunion and you can hand them out then.
  • Your family members are absolutely thrilled with the cookbook. That feels good. There is truly love between the pages of your family cookbook.
  • In the days and weeks that follow, you're likely to get a few queries from family members about the family cookbook project. How did you do it? They'd like to create their own family cookbook and hopefully you can steer them in the right direction.
  • You'll also get feedback from other family members like "now that I've seen the cookbook, I'd like to include a few more recipes", or "I forgot to include an important step on one of the recipes". Which gets you thinking about the second revision of your family cookbook.
  • Uh oh, the next revision? At this point, you've been through a lot. The thought of doing a second revision might make you feel weary and tired. The first family cookbook has been a labor of love, and you hope that the family at large will enjoy this family recipe heirloom for years to come. But most likely, a second or ongoing family cookbook is probably not in the cards.

A New and Better Family Cookbook Publishing Approach - Family Group Interaction

At Family Recipe Central, we're excited about introducing a better approach to publishing your family cookbook. You get the general idea of the steps involved in the "traditional publishing approach" detailed above. I won't tire you with the step-by-step details all over again in the interactive and automated approach that we provide, but let me give you some of the key differences and advantages in our family recipe and cookbook system that make the biggest difference.

Most important, we provide a group environment that allows multiple family members to participate online. Your family members can help you with many of the publishing, content gathering and family cookbook preparation steps. We also leverage an electronic publishing format that makes it super easy to make changes and produce a new revision at the touch of a button. This is the key behind our "Family Cookbook Living Heirloom" concept.

After all, our families don't stand still, not for a minute. And that goes for our family cooking and recipe traditions as well. As families grow and change, we add new recipes to our collection, we change recipes, we improve recipes, and we may even toss out a few recipes here and there. We think it should be easier to keep the family cookbook up to date and tracking right along with these changes. That's what we mean by the "Living Heirloom" concept, our family cookbook grows and changes right along with our family.

If you want to publish an annual update to the family cookbook, it's easy. If you want to make changes and keep the cookbook fluid week by week, or month by month, you can do that too.

Here are a few points on how this family group publishing system works

  • You and your family members that want to participate in the family cookbook project sign-up at Family Recipe Central for a FREE account.
  • You create a family group for your family cookbook project.
  • You and your family members can enter recipes into your family recipe database. You don't have to be the single-threaded bottleneck where everyone sends their recipes to you for editing and entering into the cookbook. We make it easy for other family members to share the load and effort. And this family group collaboration is really fun! Some families tell us that their family cookbook project at Family Recipe Central actually brought their family a little closer together (now that really makes us happy!)
  • The recipes all take on a nice, consistent format. This system makes it easy.
  • Within the group environment, family members can comment and compare notes on the recipes and the cookbook through a group forum and blog. This interactive discussion platform makes it easy to coordinate and share ideas. And you have an ongoing record of the discussions and feedback nicely organized in one place. That's a lot less chasing-down and follow-up. Instead, everyone comes together in a collaborative online meeting place. The process actually goes a lot smoother.
  • Once you have a few recipes in the database, you then create a cookbook. Within the cookbook you can organize cover pages and artwork, chapters and section dividers, stories, images and photos, and of course your recipes. But you don't have to key your recipes in again, they're already in the recipe database. So you just plug the recipes into the cookbook.
  • Of course, if you want to maintain control as the family cookbook senior editor, you can set that up as well. As the group administrator, you can edit and change all of the content submitted inside the group. Other group members can submit content but by default, they can only change or modify their own contributions. However, if you want to grant a few others full group content editing rights, you can do that too by assigning these group members group administrative privileges.
  • As your family cookbook takes shape, you can produce an electronic copy instantly at the push of a button. If you want to take a final version to a printer to publish and print hard copies (typically a minimum of at least 50 to 100 copies), this electronic file format is perfect. A lot of the pre-press details are taken care of for you. However, many of our members actually prefer the electronic format. You can print a few copies off at home, and simple binding and folder solutions available at the nearest office supply work very nicely.
  • This also means that family members can come to the website and grab a copy of the family cookbook version at any time. This self-service approach is easier than sending out copies to everyone. And it consumes a lot less paper, so it's green and helps the environment!
  • You can also create as many versions of the family cookbook as you like. Or create entireley different and new cookbook variations. It's all up to you.

So now you have an idea how the "Family Cookbook Living Heirloom" approach works. Why not give it a try? Go ahead and sign up for a FREE account (see the sign-up box at the top of the left-hand sidebar) and get started today?

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