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    A Family Heritage of Recipes

    Have you ever thought of saving your family heritage by collecting your favorite recipes? Your ancestors' food ideas, and those of your generation, can provide a wealth of memories and information about life in a particular era.

    Recalling the family get-togethers and the favorite foods for special occasions, and even those for everyday meals, can be a great source of enjoyment. If you decide to write them down and possibly assemble them into a family cookbook, you'll be preserving food memories for future generations.

    I realized the fascination one's culinary heritage could provide when I read about a midwestern grandmother who recorded recipes and reminiscences for her children and grandchildren. Interspersed among the favorite recipes were tidbits of information about the occasions when the foods were saved.

    Aunt & Mother Share Recipes

    I was delighted when my aunt's old cooking notebook came into my possession. Here Auntie had written favorite recipes over the years...those from her mother and grandmother and friends. She made notes in the margins regarding the recipes or the person who gave it to her.

    Over the years, my mother shared with my daughter and me some of the recipes and food ideas she gleaned from her mother.

    "No one hitched up the horses to the bobsled or wagon and took off for the store at a moment's notice," Mother once told us. "It was an eight-mile round trip from our farm. We only went once a week to trade, not to shop. We took eggs and butter and got a few extras we would need to add to our own home-grown supplies."

    Too often we think the recipes we serve our families or that were favorites in our childhood are commonplace and that only those of other regions and cultures will pique someone's interest. But as I browse through Auntie's notebook and the pieces of paper Mother collected in her recipe box, I'm besieged with memories and want to record them for my daughter, grandchildren, and future generations.

    Compiling a Family Cookbook

    My daughter and I are compiling cookbooks consisting of recipes from my husband's family and my family. We've sorted through recipes that have been handed down to us, then have asked relatives to contribute some of their favorites or most memorable. In these days of computers with desk top publishing and recipe programs, it's much easier to put together a family cookbook.

    Begin by collecting some of your favorite family recipes and asking relatives for theirs. Include a bit of family history about the recipes and occasions when they were served, if possible.

    You can make this a simple project by typing the recipes and stories, making copies, and assembling them in a loose-leaf notebook, or you can take your typewritten (or computer disk) pages to a copy center or printer and have them compiled there into a small booklet.

    Relatives and even close friends might be interested in a copy. These recipe booklets also make nice Christmas gifts and souvenirs.

    As you research and compile your own family cookbook, you'll discover the enjoyment of learning about this side of your family and ancestors.

    Copyright © 2001 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen is a journalist, columnist, children's writer and book author. Her many publications are listed on her Web site --

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

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