A Cookbook Gift


Right after my daughter got married, in 2011, 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.

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 a metal-ring binder kind of book. (There are many options on Amazon.com.”) It came with dividers, and pages I could put through my printer. I also used plastic-lined blank pages, so there was lots of room for pictures, drawings, and 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 on 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 in the cookbook. My favorite barbecue sauce, for example. Or a recipe for white sauce. I remember once 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. Of course, You Tube is available now for just about anything, but I think she likes having me “talking” her way through some helpful instructions.

I especially love that both of my daughters cook beans. They figured out how easy it is to cook a dollar’s worth of dried beans and make spectacular meals. 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. It aint’ rocket science!

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.

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. (Or anybody, really!)

Even if your children are young, it’s something you can plan for the future, gathering culinary tidbits here and there, maybe keeping track of the meal you made on every birthday and a photo to go along with the meal. Or a special section just on holiday menus that were enjoyed by all.

They grow up fast so plan ahead!

But I do know one thing. They will treasure your cookbook always.

68 thoughts on “A Cookbook Gift

  1. Hey – what happened to the page for the coconut eggnog? I’m gonna copy the email… I, too, adore eggnog and also ‘spice it up’ a bit with whiskey and nutmeg. Why DON’T they sell it for longer/?/
    I think making a cookbook for our children is wonderful idea and that more people should do just that. I may have mentioned before that I’ve done the same thing for my sons Mike and Dan – and I can see which pages they visit most often by the smudges on the page..
    I had my pages printed and bond, just a simple ‘corkscrew’ binding, at Staples but I love how you did it. And I love how you included your tips and some ‘how to’ photos!!
    As you said, they’ll treasure those books always. And then, hopefully, their children will also prepare some of the recipes as well. ; o )

  2. Three years ago I joined Tasty Kitchen.com/ (Ree Drummond’s blog) I wrote over the course of 2-1/2 years 1,500 original recipes. The reason simple, virtual cookbook for my five children. They are all still young but one day when they leave home for college they will each have one to take with them. For now the books remain with their other special childhood things I saved and continue to save for them. It was a labor of love for me and I enjoyed doing it. I still create new recipes all the time and monthly add to their books (I just do not submit anymore to tasty kitchen.com/ as it is a format that is very time consuming). Through my blogs most of the recipes appear sooner or later.

  3. Wonderful! I am partly self taught and partly from my mum, grandmother, Italian aunties and God mother! My most treasured recipes are the smudged, grubby notes that I either took as I watched or that they wrote for me 😀

  4. Years ago my Mother gave my brother, sister and I, for Christmas, hand written identical cookbooks of our family recipes. Included were notes on where or whom the recipes originated with or which family member liked it the best. PRICELESS! It would have been so much easier to put together in this day and age…

      • I have been thinking about that (initially with regards to Richard’s blog). It would be nice if you could put this in your will or something, that your blog will be kept online for 100 years by some kind of foundation.

      • Wow. What a thought. I imagine the internet will be around in 100 years?!!! Or will it be something even bigger? Hard for me to think about. A lot of work goes in to blogging, and it’s nice to have some kind of assurance that they’re safe and sound.

    • I remember that – Mum and Leah, wasn’t it? Hope I’m not remembering wrong. I guess the blog does that as well, but maybe I don’t trust the integrity of the internet!

      • You have a great memory Mimi! I don’t trust the internet either so I print every post before I publish and keep it in a folder, but at least while it all lasts my daughters interstate can reference the material. Much easier to look online than call Mum…..😉

  5. I started my blog 6 years ago for my daughter who is heading out to college next year. She won’t use a printed cook book. I’m sure your daughters appreciate the effort you put into these, as they probably aren’t millenials who only read things online. They even issue iPads at her high school for textbooks and assignments! Kudos to you for such thoughtful gifts. xo

  6. This is a wonderful idea and one I will try to copy. Thanks! I have lots of good, well-tested recipes on line now that we’ve used often for family gatherings and that the grandkids have enjoyed making with me. I’m thinking how to put the info together into a book that can be a keepsake of our times together in the kitchen and a reference for good eating.

    • Exactly. I think the format hardly matters, as long as the information is easily referenced. I didn’t grow up in a normal family, so there were no family recipes. But it’s also nice to have your own traditions around food, or even non-traditions!

  7. Love this idea, both beautiful and thoughtful. Wish I’d had something like this. Whenever I watched my grandmother cook and asked what exactly she was doing the answer was she didn’t have any specifics – she “just did”. Not very helpful, and of course when your sources pass away no one has anything in writing.

  8. It really is a great idea. I learned late in life the simplicity of white sauce and homemade gravy and not from my mother or grandmother either (though my grandma did teach me a few basics). This is very special. Xxxx

    • Thank you! Since I wrote the books one daughter who now has a baby has referenced the book often. The other daughter has lived in London for four years, and now 2 years in NYC, so I’m pretty sure her cookbook is in our basement. But I think one day, if she ever lives in a normal situation with a real kitchen, that she will use it. But I know they both appreciate the blood sweat and tears!

  9. Your post brought a tear to my eye. I would love to do the same for Alice one day. Your daughters are lucky to have you to pass on so much coking knowledge to them. I’m sure they will treasure their cookbooks forever and eventually pass them on to their own children.xx

  10. It’s the best gift I feel. I am planning on doing one for each of the kids when they head out into the world. They have been a great influence on what I like to cook so it will be fun to share with them. :)

  11. Like you, Mimi, I think one of the most wonderful gifts a young couple can receive on their wedding day is a personal cookbook. I do the same – skipping right past the wedding registry – and I have never seen a disappointed couple. I love how you did it – it is so very personal.

  12. I’ve done a family cookbook for Christmas the past five years. It’s time consuming but I love doing it! Did a self published one this year. So much cheaper!

  13. I love this idea! My little brother asked mum for one of her old go-to recipe books when he moved out, and there’s one with a family favourite recipe in which we’ll be fighting over when she’s ready to let it go, but none of the ‘family’ recipes are recorded anywhere x

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