Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Writing an Heirloom Cookbook

Welcome to the Homemaking Party! Today I'm reviving an article I wrote for Raising Homemakers last year about writing an heirloom cookbook.

Do you have a book wish list? I do and one book at the very top of it is the modern version of Martha Lloyd's cookbook. Martha Lloyd was the close friend of Jane Austen's family who lived with the author, her sister, and her widowed mother before eventually marrying Jane's brother, Frank. She kept a handwritten book of recipes that has recently been published for Austen fans to enjoy. When I was in England in September, I spent a day in the village of Chawton where Lloyd and the Austens lived in a not-so-little cottage owned by Jane's wealthy older brother. It was my second time visiting the cottage, but this time I noticed something on display that I hadn't before: Martha Lloyd's cookbook.

In my opinion, there are few things more special a homemaker can leave for future generations than recipes written in her own hand. I've mentioned several times on my blog that my family gave me a box of my great grandmother's recipes and cookbooks when she passed away. There were things in that box that even came from my great-great grandmother. They're very special gifts to me--a legacy that she left without knowing who would benefit.

In our techy, 21st century world, it's so easy to type up our recipes, add a staged, beautifully edited photo, and pin it to Pinterest for the whole world to see. As a homemaking blogger, I've shared countless recipes this way. However, I want to leave my family more than a link to a Pinterest board, so I've begun writing an heirloom cookbook. It's very simple---but so was Martha Lloyd's and so were my great grandma's. In both cases, these women used a simple bound book and filled in the pages with things that came to mind. Martha's contains recipes at the beginning and household tips toward the end. My grandma's books are not organized by recipe type and even feature the same recipes more than once throughout.

My heirloom cookbook is simple on purpose. I tend to be a perfectionist but with my big family and busy life, I've found that perfectionism leads to procrastination. Therefore, rather than waiting for a trip to Hobby Lobby where I can spend $40 buying supplies to make a fancy, color-coordinated notebook with paper flags and ribbon bookmarks, I chose a notebook from my kids' school supply shelf. In fact, I just grabbed one right from the top of the pile. I might snazz it up later on with pretties (that's what my other great grandma would call them) but for now, I'm going simple. Simple means I'll actually get the job done while I'm still here to do it. Whenever I have some time while waiting for something to bake or boil, I jot down a recipe. Sometimes they're family favorites that are requested over and over---other times they're simple lists of instructions I've memorized for making basic things. The point is that these recipes now exist somewhere besides my memory---somewhere my children and grandchildren can access.

Writing a simple heirloom cookbook is a beautiful way to preserve your personality, thoughts, quirks, and handwriting for generations to come. I even include notes like, Jamie (my husband) loves this or I made this for Selah's 7th birthday dinner. It's exciting to know I've joined with generations of homemakers before me in preserving special family memories.


  1. Thank you for hosting Sarah! We are creating an heirloom cookbook also! :)

  2. Oh, Sarah! I love this article. You know how I personally feel about this idea. Never had a name for it, though. A wonderful gift for a milestone birthday, a bridal shower, or a special occasion. With some notes about the recipes, it makes a wonderful gift of part of yourself, or in my case, a SPECIAL part of myself that comes from the very heart of who I am!

  3. Sarah, this is a wonderful thing to do! I have an old binder full of recipes I wrote by hand on binder paper in the early years of our marriage. I've often thought of throwing it out over the years, but it has managed to make the cut every time. Keep it up! I'll be back tomorrow to link a sweet treat we love. Thank you for hosting.

  4. Your family will treasure your cookbook! For my son & daughter-in-law's wedding we put together a cookbook with recipes that were sent in by all the close family members. It is a book with lots of family favorites. The book was printed and given out to family at the rehearsal dinner.

  5. Thanks for hosting and for sharing your cookbook story. I compiled a family cookbook years ago, gathering recipes from my grandmother, mother, sister, aunts, and cousins, then typing, copying, and binding 60 final copies for family and friends. We all use the cookbooks regularly and value them even more now that Grandma has gone home to the Lord.
    Blessings, Leigh

  6. I love this. What a great heirloom to leave to future generations!

  7. This is a great idea Sarah. I bought a nice wooden box for my daughter, Emily's, recipes last year. Unfortunately, I haven't taken the time to write out our recipes for her. I'm inspired to work on it.

  8. I LOVE this idea, and it's perfect for any house wife! So blessed with the inspiration that you got! I always enjoy reading your posts!


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Mrs. Sarah Coller

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