Right after my daughter got married I did something that I’m very happy I did. I wrote a cookbook for her. Not just because she was married, or because she’d reached a certain age. It’s just that as she got older and busier, we didn’t really cook together much anymore, and I had so much I wanted to share.
You see, I’m pretty much 99% self-taught, so I learned the hard way how to cook. I had no Grandma in the kitchen with me showing me the ropes. Which is fine, but that’s what I mean about learning the hard way. I read recipes, and cooked. And I made mistakes.
When I made the decision to write the cookbook, I purchased metal-ring binder kind of book. It came with dividers, and pages I put through my printer for the recipes. I also used plastic-lined blank pages, so there was lots of room to include pictures, drawings, and for personal notes.
A lot of the pictures I glued were pages I’d saved from Chefs Illustrated – they have the most beautifully illustrated tutorials, like boning a chicken, for example. And I had copies of helpful reference charts, like how long it takes to steam different vegetables, or at what temperature to remove meat from the oven.
I ended up being so happy with my “cookbook” that I made a duplicate for my younger daughter, and gave both girls the cookbooks at Christmas.
Although I rarely cook the same thing twice, I still do have my favorite recipes, and these are the most common ones in the cookbook. My Favorite Barbecue Sauce, for example. Or a recipe for White Sauce. I remember thinking once that only chefs in fancy restaurants could make white sauce. How silly is that?!!!
My older daughter, who cooks often, has told me that she has referenced my cookbook quite often over the last few years. I remember once she did for cleaning shrimp, once for trimming asparagus, and once for cleaning leeks. This is the sort of basic instruction that is absent in most cookbooks, unless they are specifically for beginner cooks. (Of course now, there’s You Tube!)
I especially love that both of my daughters cook beans. They’re both on a budget, being young working women, but they figured out how easy it is to cook a dollar’s worth of dried beans and make spectacular soups. I know adults who have never cooked beans from scratch! And, I credit my cookbook for encouraging this, because I simply showed how easy it is. It’s easier for young people to jump into cooking without any pre-conceived notions as to how difficult some of it might be. And honestly, as we all know, home cooking is quite straight forward and easy.
So I’m not writing this post to pat myself on my head. This is not a cookbook that I will be sharing with anyone else. I designed it just for my daughters, who both enjoy cooking and eating, so that they might not learn some things the hard way. A kitchen should not be intimidating, and cooking shouldn’t be stressful.
But I wanted to pass this idea along to any of you who hadn’t thought about it, so you can gift your children a cookbook from your heart and soul. Even if yours are young, it’s something you can plan for the future, gathering tidbits here and there, maybe keeping track of the meal you made on every birthday and a photo to go along with them. Plan ahead – they grow up fast!
But I do know one thing. They will treasure it always.