Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sharing Family Meals Across State Lines

Thanksgiving 2017 was one of my favorites. For the first time ever, my 40-year-old brother and I hosted the family gathering for my mother's family. Do I think that it means that they finally see us as adults? No, probably not, but we had crazy fun time doing it.

My brother brought his family to Texas to visit. We are a year and 2 weeks apart, and are the only two children of my mom and dad. They live in Louisiana where my father and his side of the family also live. We have a total of 10 additional siblings between my dad and stepmother, so we don't often get to do much together, especially because for years my little family has been living the nomadic life of a military family. But I digress ...

So we banned anyone from showing up until 5 p.m. and my brother and his family walked over from my mom and stepfather's house, about a mile away. My brother is married to the Queen of Hearts, because she really has to have a patient heart to put up with all the shenanigans of my family. They have Magpie the Chatterbox and SoSo the Serious (she is seriously going to eat any food she sees.) 
We started the day with Mrs. Claus gifts that had been left at our house for the kids, and sent Lil Monkey and Magpie to play (they are 3 months apart). We set Soso the Serious up in her walker (she had just turned 1) and she set about chasing our dog Buster who simultaneously wanted to play with her and run from the walker.

My sister-in-law who lives with MD set up shop in one of our new recliners to monitor the kids while coordinating the holiday meal for my dad's side the following week (that was a much bigger production with all the siblings and cousins.) 

Then, having discussed the menu earlier in the week before they came to Texas, my bother and I got down to cooking. This is really the point of the story. My brother is a great cook, and I enjoy it as well. He does a lot of traditional recipes for his family, while I like to try new stuff, trade recipes and such. So of course, in the meal prep (we used a lot of my recipes homed from making meals for single Soldiers who didn't get to go home for the holidays), it came up about the list of recipes that we wanted that the other had. 

Their visit went quickly, as it often does, so while I was struggling to find a Christmas present that would be enjoyed as well as useful to him, I thought, why not a cookbook with recipes from my collection and other family members as well? So, that's what I did!!

Cute, right? So it was quite easy to do, let mew walk you through it.

First of all, supplies: 
  • 1-inch mini binder (this was Avery brand in black)
  • sheet protectors (for 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 size sheets)
  • scrapbook paper for decorating
  • Labels (I used Avery 25395 Name Badges) **optional
  • Recipes!!

Finding scrapbook paper that ft my brother's personality and style was a little hard, since he is always focused on others, but I thought with a house full of girls (even the dog), maybe a buffalo plaid would work. 

I created a list of dividers that I wanted, then made some decorative dividers. (Just Google cookbook sections and you'll get a list to pick ad choose from.) I printed them on the Name Badges/Labels, and them stuck them on colored cardstock. 

I knew that I wouldn't see my brother and his family until after Christmas, so I asked family members that we would be visiting for Christmas if they could send me some of his favorites that they made, then I just collected them. Some I retyped, others I left in the original handwriting and reduced to the right size if needed.

For the recipes I retyped, I created a template then I just typed the recipes in the template and printed. I was able to do 2 per page with the binder this size, and then printed. I also saved a digital PDF of them, but it's not required. Our family has last a house to fire, seen several floods, break-ins, lost moving boxes, etc., so for us having back-up is a time saver if the book is ever lost. I probably should scan the handwritten ones as well, just to be safe.

Not all recipes are original to the name on the list, but adding their name as the person who introduced us to that recipe is just as important for helping us hold on to those memories.

Once I had a good assortment of recipes printed, I cut the pages in half and started to put the book together. All-in-all, it was less than $20, and took only a few hours (her and there) to get it together. We leave on Friday to go visit them and I am excited to see what he thinks of it. I printed some blank templates, and hopefully we can get my paternal grandmother to give up a recipe or two. 

How do you collect family recipes?

Until next time, stay #CreativelyInspired!

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