Some of my earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen with my grandmothers. One was Italian. Her name was Elaine, but we called her Lanie for short. The other was purely southern born and raised. Her name was Joan, but all of her grandkids (and pretty much everyone else) called her Granny.
My grandmothers played essential roles in my childhood. Both of my parents worked long hours, so I spent as much time with my grandparents as I did with my actual parents. Granny would take me to work with her when school was out. She owned our local flower shop on Main Street in our tiny town and worked her fingers to the bone to support herself. And even though we had to leave the house at sunrise, she would wake up early and make homemade biscuits and gravy so I could eat to my heart’s content before we set out on our way. As an adult, I understand how much she must have loved me to lose that extra 30 minutes of sleep she could’ve gotten if I would have just been happy with a chicken biscuit from Mrs. Winter’s. Sorry, Granny.
Lanie, on the other hand, was a French Toast kind of lady. She would pull out a stool from the closet and open it up so I could stand next to her at the kitchen counter and watch her dip the bread in a bowl of eggs before listening to the sizzle as it hit the hot pan on the stove. Once she had plated the toast, she would hand me the sifter and let me sift half a pound of powdered sugar on top (that’s the best part, isn’t it?!).
My grandmothers both had very different methods of cooking. Granny had a porcelain container on her kitchen window sill for grease. Lanie only used the sharpest, most expensive white cheddar cheese she could find. But no matter what, I could taste how much love they put into each dish.
If you’re a grandparent (or a parent) who loves to cook, just know that these are the memories you are creating. We’ll remember these moments for a lifetime. I’ll never forget the first time Lanie made me close my eyes so she could sneak a piece of white cheddar cheese into my mouth, thus proving that it DOES taste delicious even though it isn’t yellow! And I’ll absolutely never forget how hard Granny and I laughed when I was using the hand mixer to help her make banana pudding and, while it was on high-speed, I pulled it right out of the bowl and sent banana pudding flying around the room. It stuck to everything. The walls, the cabinets, the windows, US. It was everywhere. We laughed so hard we cried.
Having lost both of them a few years ago, it’s these memories that make me smile the most. The kitchen was our fun place. We would experiment with food, sneak so many “tastes” of dinner while we were cooking that we were no longer hungry once it was served, and make the biggest messes you’ve ever seen. I loved those women more than I ever could’ve understood at such a young age. I miss them dearly, but I know every time I stick a pan in the oven full of macaroni and cheese or stir up a batch of banana pudding, they’re looking down at me and whispering things like, “Don’t forget to turn off the mixer before you take it out of the bowl.”
The beauty of CreateMyCookbook is that the design program allows for you to insert as many story pages and photos and handwritten recipes as you’d like into your cookbook alongside your recipes. If your family is like mine and spent the majority of your time in the kitchen, you can input these stories using Story Pages throughout your cookbook. You can also utilize our Photo Pages to enhance the experience, bringing back those memories full-force.
So if you’re considering putting together a family recipe cookbook, I am in full support of also including fun family stories. Tell that embarrassing story about your cousin. Include that heartwarming story of your aunt Karen. Do it all. I can promise you it will make your cookbook that much more meaningful. It’ll go from a recipe book to a family heirloom in the blink of an eye.
Here’s a great help article on Story Pages, and here’s one on uploading photos. Need extra assistance? Shoot a message over to Support. They’re always willing to walk you through the steps to enhancing your cookbook.