Family Recipe Central Blog

Recipe Index Cards are Popular and Easy

Once you start entering and keeping your recipes online at Family Recipe Central, you'll find that printing your recipes on recipe index cards is simple and convenient. I must confess, as much as I really appreciate working with recipes online, I still prefer to read recipes from a printed copy while cooking in the kitchen.

For the environmentally conscious, if you're committed to saving the trees, then by all means, you can bring your notebook computer into the kitchen and refer to your recipes online as you cook. But there's something familiar and comfortable about keeping recipes in journals, index cards, or just piles of scrap paper (although, that gets pretty disorganized).

Of course, with a little bit of improved technology, we're all about solving the hard-copy recipe chaos!

At Family Recipe Central, we suggest a "best of both worlds" solution. You can manage your recipes online with all the convenience and facility to share, collaborate and organize your recipes. And keeping your recipes online provides easy access to your recipe collection no matter where you happen to be. For the kitchen, when it's time to cook, with the push of a button, print any recipe in a clear, beautifully formatted 4x6 inch or 5x8 inch index card, as well as a full 8½ by 11 inch page if you prefer.

Printing your recipes on standard index cards is pretty economical too. No expensive special photo paper necessary for your ink-jet or laser printer needed, just ordinary standard index cards that you can find at any office supply including Staples or Office Depot. At last check, a 500 pack of 5x8 inch plain (not ruled) index cards was about $10. That's about 2 cents a card.

We like to use 5x8 inch index cards. They're large enough to contain a more detailed recipe on a single card, yet still convenient to store in a recipe file box or small 5x8 inch 3 ring binder (more about that in a moment).

Most ink-jet and laser printers today can easily print 5x8 index cards. Similar in size to photo paper, index cards typically load into an adjustable printer tray. And some printer models allow a 5x8 index card to be fed individually, similar to an envelope single feed.

At 2 cents per card, you can afford to print a fresh copy if you spill some sauce on your recipe index card while you're cooking in the kitchen. But we like to protect the index cards with the thin plastic film protectors you see in the pictures below. A 25 pack of 5½ x 8 inch top loading plastic sheet protectors runs about $5. You can protect 2 recipe index cards per sleeve (front and back), so it's quite affordable. If you spill something on the sleeve, it easily wipes off clean with a paper towel.

Chile Pepper Heat Rating - The Scoville Scale

Chile peppers add a special flavorful dimension to cooking. Not only just the heat and spice, but a variety of flavor sensation too!

When you visit the grocery market today, you'll find more variety of chile peppers than ever. Some peppers are more on the mild side and other chili peppers pack enough wallop of heat, they can take your breath away.

There's actually an somewhat standard and commonly used method to rate the heat level of chili peppers. Although you may not see these ratings on display at the supermarket, "Scoville Units" are a useful way to classify the various levels of heat from one variety of chile pepper to another.

The Scoville method was developed almost 100 years ago by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist,  in 1912. Originally, the method employed human tasters to determine by how much an extract of a pepper's pungency would have to be diluted by sweetened water to neutralize the sensation of heat from the chile peppers on the tongue.

Today, a more modern process is used called "High Performance Liquid Chromotography" (or HPLC) which measures the amount of capsaicinoids (capsaicin) in parts per million. Capsaicin is the compound found in chiles that is responsible for the heat.

Sodium Content in Foods

For many people, excess sodium in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure and other adverse health effects. The daily recommended sodium intake falls between 1500 mg and 3000 mg, depending on how many calories you consume (about 1,000 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories).

Interestingly, according to the Mayo Clinic, only about 11 percent of the sodium in the average US diet comes from adding salt to the food. The majority of sodium, over 77 percent, comes from eating prepared or processed foods that contain salt. Unfortunately, fast foods are some of the worse offenders when it comes to high salt content (just add salt and you can cover up just about anything).

And even the sodium levels present in the public water supply can vary significantly from one area to the next. Yes, salt intake from just the water we drink. The New York city public water supply has one of lowest sodium levels of sodium in the country and Galveston, Texas has one of the higher levels of sodium (from the public records, not an exhaustive and conclusive study).

Here is a list of common food items with their associated sodium content. Some of the sodium levels in our everyday food may surprise you. For example, canned peas have over 100 times the sodium of raw peas.

Soup to Nuts - musing about food expressions

Soup to Nuts - now how did that saying get started?

We hear the common colloquialisms, expressions and idioms everyday, and usually just take the words for granted. We're almost numb to their meaning. Do you ever stop to listen to the words, and wonder "where did that expression come from"?

I had that pause the other day when someone mentioned "soup to nuts" in the context of what we were talking about (and I honestly can't even remember what we we're talking about). OK, we know that soup to nuts means everything from A to Z, or maybe more accurately, everything from start to finish.

But just how did the phrase "soup to nuts" come about? In the spirit of the general food interest here at Family Recipe Central, I thought I would "spill the beans" (another shameless food related saying) and dig up the derivation of the expression "soup to nuts".

Family Photographs for your Family Cookbook

As you plan and layout your family cookbook, be sure to include plenty of photographs and images. Not only do photographs bring an exciting visual dimension to your recipes, you'll want to capture the memories that family photographs will add to your family cookbook.

A family cookbook is more than a collection of your family recipes. This is your special opportunity to tell the family story and capture your family history. And all of those photographs that you've collected over the years make the perfect addition to your family cookbook.

Here are a few ways to incorporate photographs in your family cookbook

  • Recipe and food images
  • Family portrait (the family group)
  • Portraits and pictures of family members
  • Honor the chefs and cooks behind the family recipes with a photo
  • Pictures of babies, children and grandchildren
  • Pictures of the family pets (how about a funny food story or mishap with a family pet to go along with a picture of your pooch)
  • Pictures at the holidays
  • Pictures from family vacations
  • Pictures from family events and celebrations including family reunions, birthdays, weddings, etc.
  • Pictures in the kitchen
  • Pictures of the houses and towns where your family has lived

Tell the story with pictures and words. 

Family Cookbook - So Many Family Stories

When you set out to create your family cookbook, don't just focus on the family recipes. It's also about capturing the family stories and preserving the family memories. There are so many ways to weave stories about our family members into the family cookbook content.

Here are a few of the more obvious opportunities to capture and tell the family stories

  • Biographies of family members
  • If your family immigrated to America, how did they get here?
  • Every family event offers a story (weddings, holidays, graduation, births, family reunions, family vacations, etc.)
  • A family member's special skills and talents (sports, charity and philanthropy, dancing, photography, hobbies, careers, inventor, gardening, storytelling, etc.)

Family stories spring forth from some of these less obvious places

  • Sentimental objects that remind you of a family member
  • Letters from a family member can reveal a whole chapter of memories (romatic letters when Grandad was courting Grandmother)
  • A family disagreement and the lessons learned (hopefully you can find some wisdom even in the family conflicts)
  • A family member's military service and the pride and gratitude we hold for all that make this courageous contribution
  • Life's embarassing moments (hopefully everyone is a good sport)

Never Underestimate the Power of an Old Family Recipe

How many times have you heard the phrase  "from an old family recipe"? It tends to strike a powerful emotion. After all, we identify with great cooking that has stood the test of time. Particularly if it's a special dish or preparation that originates from the family kitchen several generations back, handed down over the years. If we can establish that we're cooking from an old family recipe it has to be authentic. The real deal for sure!

We certainly treasure our own family recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next. We tend to honor home cooking as better, more wholesome food. Somehow, nothing else can quite measure up to the flavor and taste of that old family recipe.

And the old family recipe makes us feel connected to our family's prior generations. It gives us a sense of duration and permanence. Pretty good family endurance if you can say that you've been preparing a special dish in your family the same way for 150 years.

Sometimes an old family recipe is so good it becomes the basis for starting a company. A commercial food venture based on an old family recipe can leverage a powerful marketing message. For some, it may even come off as a ploy, trying to take advantage of our emotions. After all, if your family recipe is so good that my family will want to feast on your family's cooking, it must be some spectacular food. 

How to Create a Family Cookbook

Every family has stories and memories worth preserving. And the family recipes make some of the best material for including in the family memoirs. Creating a family cookbook around the collection of family recipes is a wonderful way to share and safeguard the family recipes for future generations. When you think about it, many of our favorite family memories are associated with food.

All of us can identify with sentimental memories of our favorite dishes that mom prepared, funny food stories, food and cooking experiences that ended up in a disaster, the warmth and comfort of holiday meals and celebrations, and maybe even a frivolous food fight in the kitchen. The family cooking legacy provides the perfect central theme around which to write the family memoirs.

When you create the family cookbook, you can capture and write about the stories and memories behind all the great cooks in your family. A family cookbook that focuses on these memories and recipes is a beautiful way to preserve your family history. And create a terrific cookbook for all of your relatives in the process.

Unfortunately, far too often, we allow these recipes and stories to slip away as one generation passes to the next. Don't let this happen to your family. With just a little bit of effort, you can organize and capture your family history in the form of a family cookbook.And we'll make it easy for you to accomplish this worthwhile project at

Family Recipe Journals - A Time Tested Tradition

Keeping a journal of our favorite recipes is a tradition that goes back as long as we've been cooking in the kitchen and we've had access to pen and paper. When it comes to creating the family cookbook, or maintaining a personal journal of recipes, perhaps we have the advantage today with the help of modern technology, websites like, word processors, and the like. But the fundamentals aren't a whole lot different than a hundred years ago. We love collecting recipes today. And we loved collecting them 100 years ago. The fact of the matter, we've probably been keeping track of family recipes in one form or another since time immemorial. And the challenge of keeping our recipes organized is certainly nothing new! Here's a fun example of a page from a family recipe journal circa 1902 that I found on

Top 10 Reasons to Create a Family Cookbook

There Are Many Great Reasons to Create a Family Cookbook

A family cookbook is an heirloom that your family can treasure from one generation to the next. It's also very practical. Let's admit it, most of us are not very well organized when it comes to keeping track of our family's recipes. Perhaps you've thought about creating a family cookbook, but just haven't found a good way to get started?

Here's our version of the top 10 reasons why you should create a family cookbook.

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