Everyone has a special food or dish that immediately takes them back to a certain person or time. When you compile a family traditions cookbook, you can gather special memories together to treasure.
Guest Post by Melissa K. Norris
Everyone has a special food or dish that immediately takes them back to a certain person or time, like a song, but the scent and taste of the recipes reaches across time and even death, to reconnect us for just a moment.
Any time I see homemade donuts I remember the bread smell mixed with the sweetness of maple cream icing as I came down the hallway of our single wide trailer from helping my dad feed our herd of cattle. The fresh from the frying pan donuts warmed my chilled fingers.
It’s not Thanksgiving without my husband’s grandmother’s signature pumpkin roll. People have been known to try and smuggle out the extra pumpkin roll at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
Think back to holidays or special treats. Who comes to mind? We remember people who took care to make something special for a certain occasion.
When the power went out, my mom would always make what we called son-of-a-gun stew on top of our wood stove. It was a simple beef stew, but my older sister said, “Son-of-a-gun that’s good stew,” and the name was born. Every time the power goes out, I remember the simple stew simmering on top of our wood stove, and think of both my mother and my sister.
How to Create a Family Traditions Cookbook
As we begin this holiday and festive season, I want to encourage you to gather your favorite family recipes. Start with your own favorites and write down where they originated. Add a few notes about where the recipe originated, the person who gave it to you, and any stories or funny antidotes related to the food or person.
Ask relatives for their family favorites.
I only have one written recipe from my father’s mother, my Grandma Revonda. She was an old-time cook, born in 1914 in the Appalachian hills of North Carolina. She didn’t follow a recipe, her recipes were handed down from her mother and grandmother, taught alongside their apron strings, from word of mouth, and the repetition of daily cooking.
I treasure this one recipe I do have from her, and the reason I have it is because my mom asked her to write it down. Of all the things we can have in this world, this handwritten recipe is one of my most treasured possessions, because it connects me to someone I loved, even though she’s now gone.
(I have a thing for historical or vintage recipes, even when they’re not from my family. I love the stories connected to them just as much as the fact they don’t contain the processed ingredients of many recipes today. I love them so much I have an entire series on my blog of Vintage Recipes handed down from great-grandmothers and grandmothers, like these Great-Grandma’s Carrot Cookies from 1940.)
Make sure to ask distant relatives, such as cousins or aunts and uncles.
They might have special stories and recipes you don’t. This can be a great time to reconnect with cousins and auntsand uncles.
Ask them to include a few favorites along with a special memory or story surrounding the making of the food. Let this be a time of strengthening family bonds and teaching your children about their family trees.
Compile all the recipes together.
You can have this done in a simple notebook or go full out scrapbook mode. Include photos of family members and make this a living family tree. In fact, you can even have it turned into an actual cookbook for gifts with print on demand companies like Creatspace or Heritage Cookbook.
Decide how to put like recipes together.
A regular cookbook will put similar recipes together, pairing together soups, breads, desserts, etc., but another option is to group recipes together by holiday or even by family members. Remember, this is your family traditions book, compile it anyway you like.
Be sure to leave some blank pages to fill in with new recipes as you grow your family recipes and traditions.
This molasses sugar cookie recipe was given to me after a lady brought them in as a gift at the pharmacy I worked at. They were so delicious I begged for the recipe. Instantly, they were a Christmas tradition in our family.
Want to create a memory-rich homemade Christmas this year?
Join me and 5,540 others for our free 8 Week Homemade Christmas Series and also receive my FREE eBook, Pioneering Today-A Homemade Christmas, when you sign up. (P.S. it has the world famous grandma’s pumpkin roll recipes in it, too)
What recipes would you include in a family traditions cookbook?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people’s faith and pioneer roots with her book Made-From-Scratch Life: Simple Ways to Create a Natural Home, podcast, and blog at MelissaKNorris.com. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she’s not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.