Monday, March 22, 2010

the story of our family teatime cookbook

As our children have grown, we've attempted to make a ritual of our afternoon moments. Special times along the way have been spent sharing in baking memories by way of familiar family recipes, or during kitchen "young chef" training sessions for yet another child.

One year in particular, we found ourselves under severe financial losses and extreme pressures when a businessman we were involved with gave us a real darned good shaft.

Mayhem increased with life threatening health issues surfacing shortly after, all eventually leaving its mark to the point of an unexpected and very harrowing recovery for a few years during which time life was just not very easy at all.

When Christmas was nearing during this initial timing, I so desired to create something for personalized gift giving as I usually had, something that would include homemade memories for our children to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I love to create things of lasting value, maybe not necessarily monetary value, but a heritage type of family memory value, one that could bring a smile to their faces when the gift was unwrapped, subsequently offering stories to share and keep repeating over time as new generations enter the family fold.

I find there is value in using our family photos when thinking outside of the box for family gifting purposes, so this one particular year I went to work to create a family "teatime recipe book" for all eight of our children, using all their favorite tea time recipes we'd baked in our kitchen together.

We were learning the art of taking tea in the afternoons by this point in time once the little ones woke up from their afternoon naps, and I had already adopted the parental philosophy of wanting to train our future chefs at home whenever possible.

Tea time sweet or savory inclusions were always appreciated, and we had become seriously hooked on fresh cream scones with jam and cream toppings. It seemed fitting to have this as a great starting point for the recipe book project.

So, back to the gifting thought...

At the time, broke as we were, I knew I did in fact have a supply of ink in my printer and an additional cartridge laying about. I also knew with a little preparation, I could scan photos of special moments in the kitchen with our children preparing food, baking, or cooking.

As each photo was scanned and saved into my hard drive, I began typing up the recipes allocated for this special tea time cookbook into my word processor.

I created two different front covers, one for the girls and another for the boys.

I chose recipes worthy of memories evoked when just simply viewing their titles.

I chose photos of our children during various stages of youth working in the kitchen or while savoring the moments while eating those recipe items.

All combined while also using some online clip art, the project was well underway.

Please keep in mind this was all way before online book making possibilities and using a printer with colored ink and spiral binding was still in vogue.

I will always admit to really enjoying this recipe book heart swelling and memory evoking endeavor, creating and completing all eight of them, mainly because it served several purposes for me.
  • I had no extra monies for gift buying.
  • I wanted to gift our children with something handmade as I always tried to.
  • I was able to fulfill this goal by using what I already owned, and had on hand.
  • I wanted to gift our children with something tangible that left it without a dollar value because it was personal and special, worthy of saving for their own someday. And besides, sometimes money is nothing, and memories become everything.
  • I wanted it to last for a while, so I was able to laminate them all for safekeeping (remember this was long ago now).
  • And finally, I wanted to relay a few messages important to me worthy of passing along, in that learning to work in the kitchen is a mandatory life skill for their futures, comfort can be found in one of their mother's old recipes, and little family traditions will be visual before them to spark and tug on heart strings over time.
If anything, I know I found much pleasure in browsing the book over and over again shortly after production myself, and my mother snickered every time she saw the photo of our two dressed up and ready to perform their family restaurant dining production on "Little Nino's Pizzeria" from our "Five in a Row" days. Yes, if anything, we both sure loved it. smile...

A few years after the grand production and gift blessing, I knew the recipe book was a hit when our future daughter in law took our son's copy back home with her to San Diego after a visit with our family, unbeknown to him at the time. One evening on the phone, she told him; "Mrs. Snesar's cookie recipe is really good!", making me snicker because she actually tried every recipe in that book before returning it to him. And at least it was unpacked when he lived on his own for her to find in the first place.

So, all this blog post to say, if you ever feel so inclined to create your own family tea time cookbook, all it takes is a lot of time, a little patience and a big smile on your face. Add to that ink in your printer and a package of card stock paper, spiral binding and laminated covers to complete, and voila, you'll have your very own family heirloom of sorts.

Oh, it will never fetch a pretty penny on eBay. Of course not! And maybe some of your children won't appreciate your efforts in the least. Some just don't, not ever when it comes to this type of thing, but maybe someday they might pick it up and begin to warmly recall their mother's loving efforts during tougher times to just go ahead and attempt to create an item of lasting and memorable value for them to behold for their own lifetimes. Well, (smile) I'd like to think that anyway.

And besides, future generations may take a browse through it some day and giggle over the photos. They might even feel led to try out one of the recipes and think it not so bad after all.

I never did know or think to ask if my girls and grandchildren used a
recipe in the book for their Christmas baking times (?)

Oh, and if this type of project isn't for you, or you much prefer creating one in a more professional looking way, click on over to professional sites such as "Blurb" or "Lulu" to end up with something like these instead;

Happy baking!

Happy cooking!

Happy tea time together!

Happy memory making in your kitchen!

(P.S. Barbara, see - you just have to make your own family book from your GREAT blog - wink)