Susan Williams is no stranger to the CreateMyCookbook crowd- she created her own family cookbook for the holidays and wrote about the experience on her own blog. Susan's blog is all about faith, food, and fun. She loves to share her passion for great food, simply and beautifully prepared. This week she’s here to help you make your cookbook a truly meaningful family heirloom.
The cookbook I created with CreateMyCookbook.
So you’ve been thinking about writing a cookbook, have you? Is anything holding you back? Is one of the things that's slowed you down from writing your cookbook a lack of beautiful pictures of your dishes? Are you worried that what you write might not be “good enough”? (Whatever that means!)
Food Bloggers -and I’m one of them- are known for their beautiful food photography. When food bloggers get together to enjoy a meal, we’re also somewhat notorious for not being able to actually EAT the meal, until each of us have taken all the pictures we need of the finished dish.
That can be exhausting, obnoxious, and downright irritating to the rest of the world.
What can your cookbook offer, that a professional cookbook author or food blogger’s work could NEVER offer?
YOUR words. And YOUR pictures.
Who says a cookbook has to be all recipes???
That’s what I’d like to know.
The Answer Is: NO ONE!
Think about your target audience. What would THEY most treasure?
Sure, they’ll be delighted to have those special recipes all gathered up in one place, where they’ll know exactly how to get their hands on it. That’s a practical reason for writing a cookbook that’s hard to beat.
But wouldn’t YOUR audience also love to have some of the memories, or - dare I say it - the LEGENDS that go along with those recipes recorded?
If you’re writing a cookbook for some of the same reasons that I wrote mine, I wanted to give not only the recipes that our little gang of four enjoyed as a family, but also, I wanted to preserve some of the memories of things we’d lived together.
In your cookbook, you can use the space for notes prior to the recipe to mention a memory that goes along with this particular recipe. Or, why not, between each recipe, share a little story of an adventure (or a misadventure) that you all experienced together. How about the story of the entire week your family was without power following that ice storm? Or that time you took a vacation where everything that COULD go wrong, DID go wrong? But how you managed to survive it all, wits intact, and have a bit of fun against all odds.
Here are some more ideas, off the top of my head. Obviously, your family/target audience will have your own very unique memories of time spent together:
Now certainly Create My Cookbook HAS beautiful stock food photos that are at your disposal, for you to utilize, if you don’t have beautiful food photography of your own to use. And if beautiful food photography is what your heart is set on.
But my guess is that what you DO have at your fingertips are quite a few family photographs that are absolutely iconic. I used this one for the cover of my cookbook. I think it kind of captures the essence of who we are as a family. Looking pretty good…right up till the moment where everything dissolves into chaos and laughter.
There's not much that can compare to this kind of joy!
A photograph of an eighteen-month-old enjoying his first taste of blueberry pie with his entire FACE can sometimes tell the tale of a great pie recipe, far better than any stylized photograph of a slice of pie.
A wacky Christmas photo - with no food anywhere in sight - might be the perfect image to pair with the family’s traditional Christmas dish of Chestnut Stuffing. Especially since not many of us have photographs of chestnuts sitting around.
This picture is small and a bit fuzzy because it's actually one frame we captured off of a videotape...but isn't it precious? One of those pastel sunsets, lighting up the evening sky behind my two greatest earthly treasures.
A beach vacation photo might be the perfect place to insert a photo of a recipe that your family often enjoyed preparing while you were on vacation renting a condo. A photo of your child in his/her soccer uniform might be the perfect accompanying photo for a quick and easy recipe, or a slow cooker recipe, that your family often enjoyed on busy game nights.
So don’t be afraid that your cookbook “won’t be good enough”. Take a few moments and think about what YOU, and your perspective - your words, and your pictures - bring to the party that no one else could POSSIBLY bring.
Think about the stories that always get told when you out to dinner with friends. Rifle through some of your old family photos. Ferret out the diamonds in the dust. Find that awesome photo of Grandma, if the recipe you’re passing on is hers. Ask members of your family or your group what their recollections are of any stories you decide to record for posterity, just to make sure you get all the details you can. Remember the sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes: all the things your senses picked up on. Those sensory memories will bring your anecdotes to life!
If you’re like me, what you’re about to create is going to be one of the most meaningful projects you’ve ever taken on, and something its recipients will treasure for as long as they live. You're going to have so much fun! Wishing you all the best!
Make sure to follow Susan for more inspiration and recipes!
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