Here’s a quick guide on how to publish your own cookbook. When it was my turn to host a Florence Family Reunion, I asked everyone to send me a favourite recipe in advance, and turned the collection into a cherished family keepsake.
1. Collect your cookbook recipes
This required a LOT of asking, reminding, and finally begging my relatives to send me their recipes. But I wound up with eighty-six delicious dishes ranging from appetizers to casseroles to desserts.
I am aware that you can find everything online, but nothing beats a recipe that has been tried and tested many times over by people you know and love!
2. Choose your cookbook cover
My cousin, Patricia Maywood Shivak of Cut Knife, Saskatchewan, was a talented artist who sketched the little farmhouse built by our grandparents near Richard, Saskatchewan. We all have fond memories of that house, which no longer exists. I even have the flooring from the house, which my husband and I salvaged and installed at our new home in Invermere, B.C. (To see photos, click here: Ten Ways to Make A New House Look Old).
3. Choose your cookbook format
My cookbook measures six by nine inches and has large print for easy reading, and a glossy cover to resist wear and tear. There’s a reason many popular cookbooks have a coil binding, because it allows the book to lie flat. The annoying thing is that when these cookbooks are standing on your bookshelf, there is no identification on the spines. In this photo, you can see that the lovely artwork extends right across the front and back covers.
4. Illustrate your cookbook
Taking decent photographs of food is very difficult, as evidenced by the many unappetizing pictures found in older cookbooks. This was beyond my capabilities, so I used some family photographs instead. I began with a photograph of my pioneer grandparents on the first page, followed by a brief family tree.
(If you read my novel Wildwood, you will know that I named my main character Mary Margaret, after my grandmother.)
My grandparents farmed near Richard, Saskatchewan, where my grandmother also owned a general store, and they raised five children. My cookbook listed them, plus their children and grandchildren.
It was also a challenge to collect all the correct names and birthdates. However, I’m glad I did. It’s surprising how many times I have gone back to consult this little family tree, to find out when someone was born or married.
Here are photos of “The Famous Five” siblings that I included in my cookbook, for no good reason except that I was so fond of my aunts and uncles that I love looking at them!
My father’s eldest sister Marguerite Florence with husband Orval Maywood.
My father’s only brother Donovan Florence with wife Beryl Ramsay.
My father’s older sister Myrtle Rose Florence, later Myrtle (Sunny) De Jong.
My father Douglas Percy Florence in his Royal Canadian Air Force uniform.
My father’s younger sister, Beverly Jean Florence, later Beverley Jean Powell.
6. Design your cookbook
When you have all your recipes typed (remember to proofread very carefully!) and your artwork chosen, find a graphic designer. I have fairly good computer skills, but I did not want to mess around with this one. I hired a very competent designer who spent four hours formatting the book. For info about his services, click here: Eggplant Studios.
7. Print your cookbook
My designer sent the digital file straight to an online printer called Lulu, which did an excellent job. Everyone raved about the cookbook, and many family members are still using it.
For 100 copies, the cost per copy was about $12 not counting my own work, which was a labour of love. Check out the printer by clicking here: Lulu.
8. Sell your cookbook
I charged my family members for the cost of printing, just to cover my own expenses. If you wish, you could also try making a profit by selling your cookbook to the public through Lulu’s website or another vendor like Amazon. The printer added a bar code on the back cover so that I had this option, but I chose not to sell it to the public.
9. Enjoy your cookbook!
And here are three of my own personal family favorites!
From my husband Heinz, a mouth-watering Pot Roast. (Full disclosure: my husband does ALL the cooking, for which I thank my lucky stars every day).
From my own father, who never cooked anything but fried eggs and sausages in his entire life except for this ONE SPECIAL TIME, comes my favourite recipe for Maple Cream Fudge. The introduction is mine.
And from my own dear mother June, this never-fail recipe for Tea Scones.
My mother’s farmhouse kitchen near North Battleford, Saskatchewan, remains untouched from my childhood. To see photos, click here: Farmhouse Kitchen.
I personalized the cookbook by including a few little family memories as filler between the recipes. Here’s one from my mother June Florence.
To conclude, here is a photo of my five-year-old granddaughter Juliet Niddrie (who wasn’t even born when the cookbook was created), eating one of her great-grandmother June’s Tea Scones from a Midwinter china plate that originally belonged to her great-great-grandmother Mary Margaret Florence! The dishes were bequeathed to my own daughter, Katie Niddrie.
Creating your own cookbook is a wonderful way to hand down some family traditions — and this would make a very meaningful Christmas gift for your children and grandchildren.
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Wartime Wednesdays Flashback
During the Second World War, commonplace foods such as sugar, butter, meat, and milk were rationed in Canada so that we could feed our allies overseas. I wrote about it previously here: Rations and Recipes.
Imagine trying to convince kids today that carrots on sticks are a treat!
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Rest in Peace, Prince Philip
Did you watch the funeral on television? I thought it was very elegant and refined, much like the prince himself, and I particularly enjoyed the music. It’s always sad and nostalgic when another of our Second World War veterans goes to his just reward, and Philip will be missed not only by his family but by millions of people around the world who remember him with fondness.
Last month I wrote about my lifelong fascination with the royals, and you can read it by clicking here: The Royal Family and Me.
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Join Me Online!
Speaking of wartime, this upcoming event is a FREE AND OPEN ZOOM call for anyone who would like to hear me discuss my wartime novel, Bird’s Eye View.
If you have read the book, plan to read the book, or would like to hear more about the book before making a decision, I’ll be appearing on the Worldwide Web at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
For a free link to the event, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dear Friends: As usual, you are welcome to share this newsletter on your social media, or email it to anyone who might enjoy it.
If you try making any of the recipes, or if you have questions about creating your own cookbook, please contact me!