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Preserving Family Recipes

When the whole clan gathers for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special celebrations, everyone raves about Mom’s delicious stuffing, Aunt Lulu’s luscious pumpkin pie and Cousin Susie’s scrumptious green bean casserole.

Sad to say, Mom, Aunt Lulu and Cousin Susie are getting up there in years and won’t be around forever. Family celebration will probably continue, but unless the family’s culinary matriarchs share their collective cooking knowledge with others, these favorite foods will become a memory. Others will do their best to prepare similar offerings, but their efforts will probably be doomed to “second-best” status.

What can be done to preserve these wonderful family recipes? The first step, of course, is to encourage Mom, Lulu and Susie to willingly pass them on to younger generations. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because these wonderful women are certainly in no hurry to be replaced. They understandably don’t like to dwell on the fact that one day it will be others, not them, who are charged with delighting family members’ taste buds.

So, it will take tact for a younger family member to encourage these veteran cooks to pass along the recipes. The best approach is to stress the importance of keeping the recipes alive for future generations, especially young children and perhaps even children that are yet unborn. In time, Mom, Lulu and Susie will understand the importance of maintaining these family traditions.

Recipes can be passed on one-to-one, with Mom inviting her daughter or daughter-in-law to join her in preparing the favorite dish. Although it is important that all the ingredients and preparation steps be written down completely and correctly, the best way to learn is to do. With Mom’s supervision, even a novice can learn not only the basics, but the important tips and tricks that are needed to prepare a dish that is not only edible but delectable.

Favorite family recipes can be copied down and then compiled into attractive “books” (loose leaf binders will suffice) that can be distributed to family members. This approach guarantees that no one in the family will feel “left out” in the passing on of traditional cooking lore. By distributing the recipes to as many people as possible, the likelihood is increased that there will always be family members who know how to skillfully prepare them. In addition, having a family recipe book creates a means for preserving new favorite family recipes.

One thing is certain. No matter how well family recipes are prepared in the years to come, the food will never taste as good as when Mom, Aunt Lulu and Cousin Susie were in charge. That is not surprising, since no one will ever be able to match the love they put into their cooking tasks.