Saving your family's beloved recipes

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Next week, many of us will be taking out weathered cookbooks and recipe cards, cooking up our family's favorite dishes, and gathering with loved ones around a Thanksgiving table. This is also a great time to take steps to preserve your family's favorite recipes. 

Archivist and author Valerie Frey virtually visited the library during a program yesterday, and shared a multitude of advice for learning about, saving, and celebrating your food traditions. Here are just a few of her tips for caring for your family's favorite recipes. 

  • Write it down! Write cooking notes on your recipes and in your cookbooks, and encourage others in your family to do the same. Try to write down those recipes that only live in your memory. If a favorite dish only lives in the memory of a family member, ask if you could make the dish alongside them, or if they would try to write it down for you. 
  • Keep track of your family's favorite recipes (for instance, those dishes that you make every Thanksgiving!) and mark them so they are easy to find. 
  • Start small. You don't have to save everything all at once; even rescuing just one cherished recipe will pass down your memories and traditions. 
  • Share and record background information about each recipes, such as who normally makes that dish in your family, where the recipe originated, any stories about that dish, etc. While you're sitting around the Thanksgiving table is a great time to reminisce about those favorite dishes and share stories with your family! 
  • It's okay to adapt old recipes to satisfy modern tastes. Save an old recipe "as is" and then make your own modifications. Keep both versions with the family recipes. 

These ideas and more are explored in Valerie's book, Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food TraditionsPlace a hold on her book to learn more! 

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EvaAnne Johnson
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