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Oct 8, 2008 07:49 PM

how to create a family cookbook?

hey there,

i'd like to create a family cookbook, ideally using scans of the recipes in their original handwriting (as opposed to typing out the recipes), pictures, quotes, etc. Does anyone have a good suggestion of how to do this? computer program? printed a kinkos? anyone tried the Blurb BookSmart program?

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  1. I have done it. The recipes will be clearer and more usable if you do type them, in spite of sentiment. I just typed the recipes a la word processor, organized the pages and set up a table of contents, then took the lot to Kinko's and had them make as many copies as I needed and bind each on a spiral. The cost was not much.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Querencia

      You might go check out the cookbook software at

      It actually organizes all the recipes for you, so they are alphabetized and sorted by recipe type. You then make a PDF that you can take to your local printer, or just do it on your own printer.

      The disadvantage of typing all your recipes into a website is that:
      a) It doesn't organize the recipes for you
      b) It's a lot of work, and you are going to want to get access to those recipes down the road to print newer versions of your cookbook. If you go with a site like Blurb, they can charge you whatever they want for reprints later because they have all your work, and you don't want to start over. With something like The Cookbook People's software, you do it on your own computer and can update it for free whenever you want.

      I've printed out dozens of cookbooks as gifts for friends, and I think the toner probably works out to be about $7 per book. Pretty cheap and easy.

      Good luck!

      1. re: LindaMurphy

        Do you have some evidence that Blurb will charge more for reprints, please? Otherwise, let's not make unsubstantiated accusations.

        While I haven't used Blurb, a friend has and the book looks professional, with full color quality! For cheap.

        I know Apple also offers some great book options as well.

    2. I would assemble it like a scrap book. You can have both the origional recipies and the typed recipies. It will be a little more work for you but if your family recipies are anything like mine they need to be translated. Kinkos is in the business of making professional looking documents. If you explain what you want to them I bet they can produce it to a pretty high standard of quality.

      1 Reply
      1. re: keith2000

        That is pretty much how I did it. I copied the hand-written recipe cards or scraps of paper, or magazine cut-outs. Then if needed for clarity (much of the time), I typed out the recipe and/or my clarifications on the process or to better quantify the "pinch of this, plop of that" directions. I also included any special memory attached such as that the dish was a favorite served Christmas eve, and if there was a funny or touching story attached I included that as well. I simply put the copies of the original into the front of a plastic sleeve, and my typed version + notes in the back of the sleeve and put it into a 3-ring binder with one of those clear plastic insert covers which I slipped art work into for a "cover". No index since it was only about 30 recipes, though I did order them from appetizers, to mains, to sides, to desserts. My sister was overcome with emotion and it was a great experience.

      2. Here's a place that publishes small run book orders, which is a very cool option .You can create and order even one book for under $20. And there are more if you search for them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: scuzzo

          I second the recommendation for My friends used it to make a book for their sister's birthday and it turned out really well - quite professional looking. You can look at some samples on their website. I downloaded the software because I was thinking of doing a family cookbook as well. The program is very user-friendly and it's fun to play around with the design and layout.

          1. i did it about 5 years ago. Life may have changed.

            My wife gave me a blank ringed book back in about 1998. Told me I should write down some of the things i came up with. I did, wrote it in hand, with ink. Filled the book by 2003. I wrote down not only the date, but who was here to "be a "victim" for the meal. Also sometimes wrote down what was going on in the world/our lives at the time. Gave it as a Christmas present to all those folks in, friends, victims and other assorted interested bystanders. Where i had blank spaces at the end of a page, i had my kids draw pictures. And there were a few pages where my daughter had "doodled" while talking on a phone.

            Since it was chronological, I made up a cple of Excel spreadsheets to list things by type (eg., breakfast ,bread entree, etc.) and by main ingredient. Attached a few more pages of fluff and had Kinko's print the whole thing into spiral bound pages with a clear plastic cover (my daughter drew a pic for the first page)

            Cost about the same as if I had bought them a best-seller cookbook, but the laughs and comments were defintely worth it.

            Now about 90% dones with vol2. Maybe next year's Christmas present

            1 Reply
            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              I can really respect that Clam. I make food everyday but never write down what I make. Inevitably I forget what I have made. When someone says "oh I loved that mushroom thing you made last month." I usually say "I made a mushroom thing? what was it?" Good for you for keeping a record.