Here is an easy way to preserve some of that family history while having fun. Publishing your own cookbook, I’ve learned, will not only bring family a little bit closer together but you’ll find that different members will offer up quite a few personal stories. Stories of Grandma’s kitchen, for one, can revive wonderful memories. Preserving family history therefore could be a fun project for all to get involved with. Include the family writers, artists and photographers as well as the cooks. For the sake of making publishing somewhat easier for you I’ll discuss a few options to get you started.
The first item on your agenda would be to make a list of as many families you can remember. Then using email or personal cards alert them to your project. This would even include family members that you might have only met a few times or see a couple of times during the year. Believe me when I say that this is a wonderful ice breaker for you to start communicating with them. Let a few days pass before emailing a second time. Personally I would also set up a family blog, complete with old and new photographs, for updates and progress.
After your initial contact it would be wise to familiarize yourself with a few publishers who won’t charge you much or those like Lulu.com who will set you up for free. Of course, if you go with Lulu, remember that you will have to do most of the book’s layout and design yourself. And your best choice with Lulu would be black and white photography or sketches. Nonetheless, it is free and they take care of all orders and payments (most likely through PayPal) including shipping and handling fees.
Furthermore, all the files you upload to Lulu will have to be PDF formatted. If you don’t have PDF know-how, I have a couple of suggestions. One is to ask family members who might have this knowledge and have no problem working with these sorts of files. Again a reminder, that this is an opportunity to work on a project with family. Secondly, you can convert most files and images to PDF files at www.pdfonline.com. That should simplify most of the work for you. Lulu is a great option and I don’t think you would be disappointed with the final product.
In any case, for a more professional approach I would suggest a company like “Cook Book Publisher,” or “Morris Press Cookbooks.” Your finished product with both of these companies is good enough to put on book store shelves. They will help out here and there with editing but the bulk of that is your responsibility. So assigning this task to another family member might be a good idea.
Cook Book Publisher will assist you with the overall design of your cookbook and show you how to market it as well. Make sure you find out about deadlines. For instance, if you would like your book printed by Christmas the publisher should have a chart to let you know when to send your finished manuscript in order to have your books before December 25th.
By now, you should have sent another email asking for favorite recipes to include in the book. This is where it will get interesting. You will find that most family members will include a little bit of history with their recipes. For example they might let you know that Grandma cooked on her wood-burning stove and created the best dishes known to mankind. Cooking on a wood-burning stove is probably a story in itself. In any case incorporate these stories, or even Grandma’s favorite sayings or songs while she cooked, into the presentation of individual recipes. This could be done at the end of a certain recipe or sprinkled throughout the actual directions of said recipe. Be creative.
See if you can convince Aunt Betty Sue to depart with a few secret family recipes. When I started asking my mom and aunts for my Grandma’s recipes they started telling me what it was like in WWII. Most of the recipes came from not having enough food and therefore nothing was wasted. Even the juice of pineapples or coconuts was included with rice dishes, salads or drinks. Like I said, interesting stories will come out of this.
At any rate, most publishers will send a kit which will have recipe submission forms inside. Each family member should be sent a few of these. Easier still is to scan one into your computer and email these forms. It will, no doubt, save you on postage.
In conclusion, there are obviously other companies you can go with. These are just a couple of options. You might have to do a little further research to find the publisher that will fit your ideas and budget. All in all, it is a fun project. It will bring family together and in the end you will have preserved a little bit of family history.