Food is a vital part of our lives in so many ways.
It is the centerpiece of many family traditions: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners, birthday celebrations, even simple family dinners.
Food shapes us — literally.
And while the cooking talent may not necessarily transfer to every descendant, we may still want to make that connection as best we can.
So, what can we do with the family recipes?
First, make sure that someone knows how to make them. Involve the younger generations. There is no substitute for experience. And cooking together is a way to make memories.
In my family, the Christmas tradition has changed over the years and now it’s cheese enchiladas, mostly prepared by my sister. These are pretty labor-intensive. Having only one person who knows the entire process may be easier now for those who simply enjoy the fruits of her labor. But what happens when that person gets sick or — eventually — dies?
How important are these traditions? Do you want to keep them or drop them?
There are many ways to share the actual recipes.
Recipe book/recipe cards
The simplest way may be to copy recipes to recipe cards or a recipe book. You can use a word processing program to make your own book. You can print the pages out, put them in page protectors and put the pages in a binder.
Use scrapbooking paper or stickers to jazz the pages up a bit.
You can also take the word processing document and send it to a book publishing company. This option is more expensive, but the quality may be worth it.
Make sure that you personalize the recipe book with family stories and photos, if possible. This will make it even more of a keepsake.
You can scan the recipe cards or handwritten recipes from another generation to add more personalization.
This can be a great gift for newlyweds or a college student leaving home for the first time.
Tea towels/dish towels
The online company Spoonflower.com will print customized fabric. You can create a document in a word processing program with the recipe (include photos or scrapbooking images to make it stand out), then upload to the site. You order as much fabric as you think you need, by the yard. You may be able to get four tea towels out of a 1-yard piece of fabric.
Recipes as art
If you scan a recipe, you can turn it into wall art. One way is to use Spoonflower.com and attach the custom fabric to stretched canvas. You would need to scan at high resolution for this to work best.
Another way is to scan the recipe and print on good quality paper or photo paper. You can use a photo service at many stores for this. Then matte and frame the image.
A scanned recipe can also be burned into a cutting board (which would only be used as decoration), or to a ceramic plate to be a keepsake. You can find more ideas on Pinterest or Etsy. Consider making place mats from scanned recipe cards. The horizontal format makes this easier.
Consider all the times that food has brought people together, and take steps to ensure that family recipes are passed down to future generations.