I share tips on how you can make your own cookbook, whether you are making one for a fundraiser or to preserve family recipes or even to sell to your customers. Sponsored by CreateMyCookbook.com.
For many families, the heart of your traditions and gatherings is in the kitchen. The aroma of a certain dish can transport you back in time to your grandmother’s house as she prepared the Sunday dinner.
My family is no different. My mother’s side is Persian and my father’s side is Eastern European. Both have very distinct cultures, foods and traditions. But it has always been my Persian family that excited my culinary dreams.
I have dozens and dozens of cousins, as my mother is one of six children. My grandmother cooked everything for her large family, all from scratch. From bread to jam to stews and kebob, she made it all.
Her amazing recipes were passed on by word of mouth or scraps of hand written paper. Measurements were never documented as experience taught her what the right amount looked and felt like. One of my aunts wrote down her recipes when she was bedridden with a back injury.
This family cookbook was written in farsi, by hand. Years later my mother and my uncle translated this cookbook to English. My mom told me that most of the time, the measurements weren’t listed so they had to guess at what it could be.
I started cooking and photographing from this cookbook almost 10 years ago, hoping to make it more accurate so it could be passed down to the younger generation. Some ingredients could never be found here in the US, other modifications and substitutions were found.
And I stopped and started this project on and off through out these past ten years. Since then, I have published two other cookbooks. Two very different cookbooks created two very different ways.
Today I am going to share with you how the average person can make your own cookbook. This is a great way to create a cookbook for a school fundraiser or just to preserve and share your family recipes.
I was approached by CreateMyCookbook.com to use their web based program to make my own cookbook. I immediately jumped at the chance, as I had my aunt’s cookbook project still begging for me to finish.
As I was still iffy on the prospect of self publishing a Persian cookbook, I wanted to try something new. And I loved the idea of using this website to create a Persian cookbook that held a collection of my family’s recipes.
Gathering the content
For family cookbooks, is this going to be a memoir with stories, just recipes or both? When you collect the recipes, how will the cookbook be divided? For me, I chose the categories that fit best for Persian recipes: Appetizers, Soups, Stews, Rice, More Main Dishes, Egg Dishes, Sweets, Condiments and Drinks.
Are the recipes tested? Do you have photographs? All of these things have to be considered when you are collecting the content of your cookbook
Because of my blog, I already had the finalized recipes and high resolution photos for most of my content. I had also been rewriting and photographing my aunt’s recipes where the content was never published on my blog.
I did cook and photograph a slew of recipes of my own as well as from my aunt’s cookbook. For example, I finally wrote up my recipe for tahchin, which I photographed for the cover of my cookbook.
For most of my recipes, I chose the layout where the recipe stood on one page and a full size photo of the recipe was next to it. But some of my photographs were 10 years old, from the early years of blogging.
And these pictures did not fit well in the full page format and I didn’t have time (or desire) to make and shoot them again. So I chose a layout where the recipe and a small photograph were on the same page. Of course, another option is to not show a photograph at all.
For shorter recipes, you can have two recipes on one page. Every time you want to add a new page, you have various options to choose from, like a recipe page, a dedication, a photograph, a story, etc…
Once the recipes are entered into the recipe form, you can easily change the layout if you do not like how it looks. So don’t feel like you are locked into any one recipe design.
Is your family collaborating with you on your cookbook? You can invite them to help you and they will be given access to your project.
Organizing your cookbook
When it come to the complicated process of organizing and creating the actual cookbook, this is where CreateMyCookbook.com comes to the rescue.
Now I have design experience, but there is a lot that goes into making a cookbook. I know. I made one from scratch and designed it all, from choosing the fonts to the layout of the recipes and even how the page numbers would look.
The actual structure of the book is one thing you do not have to worry about. CreateMyCookbook does it for you. You plug in the information, choose from the layouts you like, and they put it all together.
For example, they create the table of contents for you, so you don’t have to go back and forth and look for page numbers if you do it yourself. You can add as many or as little pages you want in your book. Pack it with photographs or don’t, it is all up to you.
There are different fonts you can choose from, so you can set the mood of the cookbook by the type of font you use. Don’t have good photographs? Don’t worry. They have a vast database where you can choose from a variety of Stock Photography.
Don’t like how the fonts look? You can easily change the look of a recipe page and have these changes made on just the one page or for all the recipe pages just with one simple key stroke.
CreateMyCookbook makes it easy to navigate around your cookbook. You can also move pages around as you work on it. So if you are indecisive and like to change things around a lot, it is easy to do.
For my book cover and section photos I decided to design them myself using Photoshop. This was not necessary, but I am super picky about what font I wanted and where I wanted it positioned exactly. Yes, I’m a graphic design geek.
But don’t worry. If you are struggling with the design, CreateMyCookbook offers their own Design Services. Although it is an additional fee, the cost is pretty reasonable and your cookbook will look amazing.
Choosing the binding option
This is another great reason to use CreateMyCookbook. When I self published my olive oil cookbook, I had to design everything to the specs my printer gave me. This meant I had to choose the size and binding option before I typed my first word.
CreateMyCookbook offers a variety of options like paperback, hardback and spiral bound. You can even add the option to have an ebook created.
There are also different types of paper you can choose from for your cookbook. I’m excited about the water proof option. I make a huge mess when I cook and something always splatters onto a cookbook.
Proofing your cookbook
So my family cookbook ended up being over 170 pages long with 88 recipes and lots and lots of beautiful color photographs. I still have about 20 more of my aunt’s recipes that I need to cook, test and photograph. But I know that when I am done, I can easily add them to the cookbook.
Now as far as grammatical errors are concerned, those are your responsibility. This is where inviting collaborators to help you double and triple check these errors is incredibly useful.
CreateMyCookbook does give you PDF proofs for you to look over. They also offer their WeReviewIt services, which tells you if your text is running off the page or if your photographs is not high enough in quality for printing, potential problems with the book cover you selected with the binding you want, etc.
Once you review your digital proofs, you are ready to order your cookbook. And then all you have to do is wait.
Want to know how my book turned out? Reed my follow up post, My Persian Cookbook, to read all about it and flip through the pages with me. It will make a wonderful holiday gift or family heirloom.
And feel free to check out CreateMyCookbook and get started on your own family heirloom cookbook!
Disclosure: I did receive a stipend from CreateMyCookbook to make a cookbook using their website. The story I have written is all true, and the opinions are truly mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.