Monday, February 7, 2011

Homemade cookbook gift

A few months ago, my college roommate, MC, got married to her long-time beau, BC, in a stunning Kentucky vineyard wedding:


When it came time to think up a gift to give them for their wedding, I knew that no simple set of dishes or sheet set--no matter how high the thread-count--would do. Because MC and I have long shared recipes and food and conversations about vegetarianism, it seemed like a homemade cookbook would be just the thing.  So, I compiled recipes from the couple's friends and family, sending out multiple email requests to the guest list, encouraging everyone to share recipes of all sorts--old family recipes, quirky college microwave meals, favorite comfort foods and so on.

I browsed the internet, searching far and wide to find cookbook software I could use to put the recipes together in some professional manner. The top two contenders after my weeks of searching, based on cost and ease of use, were Tastebook and Blurb. I ended up going with the former, and producing a book that looked much like this:


Gathering the recipes was a real joy, as well as a fascinating cultural experience--seeing the range of recipes that came in from friends and uncles and grandparents, the range of ingredients used (younger people are much more comfortable with ethnic foods, it seems!), and the range of complexity based on the cook's age and background, was deeply absorbing. Could there be a more delightful contrast than the one between Champagne and Gatorade (submitted by BC's college friends) and Classic Deviled Eggs (submitted by MC's grandmother), for example?! Certainly not.


Having all of these sights and flavors and cultural valences and relationships packed into one place made me sigh with happiness.

The final review on the software that Tastebook offers, however, was slightly less favorable. It had a rigidity that made the compilation process difficult and restrictive. For example, you can't upload your own cover images, you have to categorize recipes by their existing divisions (heavy on the meat), and it's very difficult to keep recipes to one page without some super-human finagling.

If anyone comes across better programs/systems for cookbook-making, do let me know!

5 comments:

  1. AZ! I was just ordering a print, couldn't decide how to crop it and decided to switch over to your new blog, where I was greeted by the very same picture! The cookbook was an amazing, personal gift that we love. I don't think we're going to make dishwasher salmon or bloody mary smoothies, but there are some great recipes. Love, thanks, and congratulations on the new blog!

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  2. Champagne and Gatorade! I wonder what effect such a concoction would have on haters?

    (Beautiful pic, beautiful gift, beautiful wedding!)

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  3. Champagne and Gatorade, it'll get them haters laid!

    AZ <3 MC & BadgerBear, too

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  4. so i have a similar need...somewhere to compile the box (literally box) of random recipes on scraps of paper, torn out of magazines, and photocopied out of books. maybe i will have to try blurb. or i have also thought about just making a scrapbook of sorts in a big binder...i just need to do something with that huge box that we keep moving from place to place.

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  5. Yes, amm! I had had that need myself for a long time, but the need has since been met, and will be blogged about soon! Stay tuned...

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