Being an Army Family, we move quite a bit. Not counting our recent emergency move, we have moved 9 times in the last 14 years. That’s a lot of living out of boxes and ordering fast food. After about a week, the eating out/ordering in thing gets old. As much as I dislike cooking, I start looking forward to getting back to some healthier, home cooked meals. The first few times we moved, I would pack my recipe box into our car. Then once our kitchen was unpacked, my recipes would be readily available and I could start cooking whenever I was ready. At some point we decided that we were carrying too much stuff with us in the car and I let the recipe box get packed with everything else in the house.
That worked out fine for a couple of moves, until we moved to Fort Leavenworth. Almost the entire house was unpacked and I couldn’t find that recipe box. I was able to put together some meals using the cookbooks I have, but we were really missing our favorites.
I couldn’t imagine where the recipe box could be. We pulled things out of the outdoor shed, we double checked closets. Nothing. I tried with minimal success to find recipes online. I found similar things, but not exactly what I was looking for. Of course, I kicked myself for not just hand carrying that darn recipe box.
Finally, after about a month, one little box in the guest room caught my eye. It was labelled “Living Room papers.” I had seen the box several times, but never opened it because the recipe box had not been in the living room. It was in the kitchen, of course. But I couldn’t figure out what they meant by “living room papers.” So I took a peak.
Right on top – my recipe box.
If you’ve ever had so called professional packers pack up your house, then you know exactly what happened. For the most part, they do pack the contents of one room all together. However, when they need just one last thing to fill up a box, they will go into other rooms to find just the right sized item. And they don’t bother labeling the box in a way that you’ll know to look for your recipes in a box from the living room.
So it was that year that I started our family cookbook. I bought a very nice cookbook from Hallmark along with matching recipe cards. I started the painstaking task of writing out every one of our family’s favorite recipes. Yes, I could have typed them into the computer, but I was, in part, trying to create a keepsake. I wanted the recipes to be in my handwriting for my children. I also included our favorites from other cookbooks.
When I came to a recipe that had been given to me by someone else, I included the person’s name, where and how I knew them and any special circumstances surrounding the recipe. Having moved around so much, I have recipes from the friends I had made all over the world. Some of the stories behind the recipes are simple, like Patty’s Spinach Dip that she served at Thanksgiving in Sierra Vista, AZ while we there for the Military Intelligence Advance Course. Others are more amusing, like the bean dip that my friend Melanie and I loved so much that at every get together, our other friends would know to make 2 plates, one for Melanie and I, and one for everyone else!
If you would like to start your own family cookbook, I would recommend starting off with a pretty decent sized, no frills binder and a pack of sheet protectors. Type out the recipe into any word processing file and print it out from your computer. This way, the recipe itself will be easily read. Hand-write any story that goes with it, even if you hate your writing. Future generations will cherish it, even if you don’t! If you can, take a picture of the person who gave you the recipe and include it on the page. Even better, try getting a picture of the person actually cooking the recipe or holding the completed dish! This is how I plan to create each of my children’s cookbooks. Depending on your time and motivation, you can embellish your recipe pages with all sorts of scrapbooking supplies.
I now have two copies of all our favorite recipes, one in my personal cookbook and one in my recipe file. If a recipe card gets misplaced, which does happen on occasion, at least I have my family cookbook to fall back on. Now when we move, I let the packers take the bulkier recipe file and I carry the binder with me. When we moved to Korea and needed to fly there, I actually put the cookbook in my carry-on because it would be just my luck to have my luggage lost!