Sunday, November 2, 2008

Week 6: Family Cookbook


It is the beginning of November and the holidays seem just around the corner. I have begun to think about Christmas gifts for my family. I know it may be early, but all my family lives back in the mid-west and I have to ship everything to them, which takes a week and I don’t want to pay a fortune in shipping costs. So, that means I need to be done with shopping, wrapping, and ready to ship by the first week in December or so! That is a month out!!


I mentioned I wanted to give some holiday gift ideas and some of the homemade jams and quick breads are great for local gifts. But what about something special for my parents that really have everything they need or will buy whatever they need throughout the year? An idea struck me! I come from an Italian family on my mother’s side and a German family on my father’s side. (Interesting household & combo!!) The Italian side is very animated and loud talkers, the German side is quiet and reserved, but it seems to have worked out pretty well with my parents celebrating their 40th year wedding anniversary this year!! The one thing that both sides of the family have in common is the love of cooking and great food! (Thank God, my youngest brother became a chef!)


So, with all that said, what about a family cookbook? I have seen cookbooks sold at school fund raisers or my parent’s church produced a cookbook. I thought this would be the perfect gift for my parents, brother, cousins, and hey even myself. So off I was to find a software program or web site to set up the cookbook. Now the challenge began. There are a ton a website out there that will produce 1,000 cookbooks for you! I didn’t want that, I want to make maybe 5 cookbooks! Finding a site that would do small production for a reasonable costs, under $50 or so was the harder part. This is the criteria I was looking for in a web site for producing my cookbook:



  • Free software

  • No minimum quantities of books, I only need a few

  • Economical, it depends on how big your book is, but between $20 to $50 would be reasonable

  • Template application that would be easy to edit and put in photos
    Not just a simple plastic spiral bound cookbook. I wanted something a little nicer and classier.

  • Production time relatively short, under 2 weeks to produce. (Hey, I have a month to get this done!)

Well after testing a few free software programs and trying out their format and templates, I found a site that so far is working out great. I am about half way through inputting all my recipes, so I have not gone through the production process yet or seen the final product. I will Blog about the end result in a few weeks! So the site I chose was... http://www.blurb.com/



Check them out. They have templates for cookbooks, photos books, wedding books, poetry, etc. and there are different size formats you can choose for your book. You can sign up for free and download their software program for PC or Mac for free. The software is called, Booksmart and is pretty easy to use. I am not much for reading instructions or taking a tutorial and you can pretty much just cut and paste your text into the template. There is flexibility to change the book pages, add photos, change the style on each page, and just be creative. It is a bit like scrap booking, but digital.



Here are a few things I would recommend to start your family cookbook.



  • Put all your recipes in a digital format. I set up separate Word files for each section of my cookbook so it would be easy to just copy and past my text into the software.

  • Scan any recipes you are not going to type in and put them in a .jpg format. You can insert them as a photo in the cookbook.

  • Sort through any photos you want to include in the cookbook. These can be uploaded easily in the software and inserted into your cookbook. Make sure your resolution is medium to high, since it will be printed. I tried to use some ClipArt and the software told me it was too low of a resolution to use and look good.

  • Input all your recipes first and then work on the color templates, background colors, etc. I found myself playing with this and not getting the cookbook together. Get the whole thing done and then pick your color theme and even insert your photos at the end.

That’s really it! It takes time to copy and paste the data, but I think the book is going to look beautiful and will be a special treat for my family at Christmas. Good luck, have fun, and enjoy. Let me know how your cookbook comes out. I would love to hear any stories or share some special recipes you found. I am excited to share my Grandma Zita’s recipe from probably the 1940's Hunting & Fishing’s Cookbook, Squirrel with Dumplings. Now that's Hillbilly!

1 comment:

Jeannette said...

Wow this sounds like a great Christmas idea for friends and family! Thanks for sharing your ideas and the website blurb.