One of my big goals for this year has been to create a family cookbook filled with the flavors, memories, and nostalgia of our family’s unique Mississippi heritage.
Being from the Deep South, most, if not all, of our best memories center around food…and creating a collection of my family’s hand-me-down recipes will make sure that these traditions and favorites will be passed down from generation to generation. To me, that seems like a very good reason to write a family cookbook.
This treasure trove of experience, history, and love all rolled into one will also be a great way to share my own personal life experience with future women following in my good, or not so good, footsteps.
The three most important elements of any great cookbook are superior content, captivating design, and thoughtful editing.
Superior Content...The most part important part of a cookbook is the actual content. Writing a great cookbook involves passion and a vast amount of knowledge…technical, historical, scientific, or anecdotal knowledge.
Being from Mississippi, I have gathered quite a bevy of good recipes over the last thirty years. My goal is to simply share these great family recipes with my family, friends, and perhaps a few more readers.
My first step in beginning to work on this cookbook has been to compile my recipes together in one place, sort them into categories, and eliminate any recipes that I won’t need.
The typical cookbook contains 250 to 500 recipes in total.
Chapters should be somewhat balanced in terms of length, and consistent within as to recipe order…Organize your chapters in a way that makes sense to the reader…perhaps according to course or according to seasons…
Layout…Double-page spreads for longer recipes keeps the reader from turning a page with sticky fingers. Try to have photographs facing the recipe page.
Photography……Good photography is essential for a good cookbook, but be honest. Show the photograph exactly as made following the recipe. do not show ingredients actually not mentioned in the recipe
Typeface…Typeface must be large enough to be seen three feet away on a messy kitchen countertop. This helps us find our place quickly. Mixed-typeface designs can add interest to your page and often help the reader glance through a recipe more quickly.
Recipe Titles...Recipe titles should be both descriptive and interesting, so that the reader understands what the dish is all about by simply glancing at the page.
Headnotes… Headnotes, the little bit of copy before the actual recipe, should reflect the unique voice and personality of the writer. Describe how you were first was captivated by this recipe, things to watch for when making the recipe, why you included this recipe in this book, why you love it so much, a bit of the recipe’s history,information about a particular ingredient, additional recipe tips or variations, or a personal anecdote that relates to the recipe in some way, shape or fashion. give the author a chance to
Ingredients…Copyright law does not protect the list of ingredients in a recipe. If an ingredient isn’t available at the local Piggly Wiggly, tell your reader how to order it online or what other ingredient to substitute.
All ingredients should be listed in order of use. Indicate if they are chopped, minced, melted, etc. Include accurate package sizes and to provide the pan sizes needed for each recipe.
Measurements…American cooks do not typically use the metric system. as an American cook writing recipes for a mostly American audience, why bother?!
Measurements should be as precise as possible.
Instructions…Be descriptive in your instructions. Use the five senses as you write them out. Instructions should be very clear and make a picture to the reader. Baking times should be accurate and tell how to know that the recipe is finished. State whether to cook a recipe covered or not. Tell the reader if you can make the dish ahead of time and freeze for later. State the number of servings.