A Family Heritage

The quick answer:  If you cook, your healthy recipes are a family heritage worthy of preservation.


A World Heritage

The UN has a list of world heritage sites precious to our civilization—like Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Egypt, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  The list now includes an intangible asset: the Mediterranean diet.  Scientists claim this diet protects against the chronic diseases that plague our country.

The Mediterranean diet is defined as “olive oil, grains, fruits and vegetables . . . a moderate proportion of meat, fish, and dairy products, and plenty of condiments and spices.”  Sound familiar?  Because the diet is an intangible it requires definition.  You could write a book, but the real definition, I submit, is found in menus and recipes. 

Cooking in New York

Our talented daughter (you can visit her blog here—and also see an old picture of the beautiful wife) told a funny cooking story the other day, from her years in New York City.  Here’s the story: 

Two young professionals, tired of eating take-out every night, thought it would be healthier to have home cooked food.  Pretty smart guys, you’re likely thinking.  But they were super busy starting their careers, too busy to cook, so they hired a professional to prepare their meals during the day while they worked.  It cost a lot, but each day they came home to a refrigerator of healthy home cooked food, left by the cook.  They thought it a tasty and creative solution.

One weekend they wandered into a nearby health store and found an array of prepared foods much cheaper than what they had been paying for.  The food looked good; there was just one problem.  On closer inspection, they recognized it as the dishes they had been getting from their “personal cook.”  The cook had got the food at the deli, put it in their refrigerator, and pocketed the savings.  Welcome to New York boys!

Cooking In Your Kitchen

As you know, the 52 Healthy Changes cover 13 topics, visited and revisited each quarter of the year.  For the 11th, 24th, 37th, and 50th week the subject is cookingHealthy Change #11 said: “Put love in your food with home cooking.”  It’s a simple phrase, but it repudiates the main food thrust of the last century—to save labor.  “Put” is a verb and implies effort.  Cooking, as enjoyable as it can be, is work.  When the pressure is on, it’s hard work.  The switch from saving labor to investing the family food with love has profound implications and is essential to good nutrition.   

Today we’ll talk about your personal recipe collection.  In 13 weeks we’ll discuss the limits of factory food processing.  How to you tell when food processing turns from good (as in churning butter) to bad (hydrogenating refined soybean oil into margarine)?  Finally, in week #50 we’ll review how to health-up favorite but less-nutritious recipes. 

In addition, during the year we offer 52 Breakthrough Recipes, one each week (except this week, as we’re traveling to Midway).  We use the term “breakthrough” because though they’re familiar dishes, they represent a new food culture.  We call this new culture Word of Wisdom Living and you can have the recipes for free.  You don’t get that in New York City.

Make A Recipe Journal

The place you save recipes—be it a metal box of 3”x5” cards, a plastic binder, or a file on your computer—needs upgrading from time to time.  I keep my recipes on the computer with hard copies, torn and stained from use, in our menu binder.   The beautiful wife has a notebook with plastic compartments for each menu, a past Christmas or Mother’s Day gift.  She refers to it often but it’s so stuffed with recipes clipped out of magazines and newspapers it’s hard to use. 

Value your recipes as a priceless part of your heritage and give them a proper storage.  My Dad passed away a few years ago.  He made wonderful whole wheat bread but after he was gone we realized he cooked without a recipe.  It’s sad, but the recipe is lost to our family.  When I wrote a family history for my parents’ family, I made sure to include a couple of cherished recipes, like Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce.

Please comment:  Organize your family recipes and arrange to preserve them.  Share your method of saving recipes, even if you just stuff them in your favorite cookbook.

Need a reminder? Download our Healthy Change reminder card. Print and fold, then place in your kitchen or on your bathroom mirror to help you remember the Healthy Change of the week.

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Reader Comments (9)

When I got married my mom sent me a box with notecards. Some were blank, but most of them had recipes she had written on them. It is nice to have them handwritten, as she is no longer around. I don't know that I will do handwritten recipes, but I'm trying to pick out the staple recipes and make them into a recipe book- so I am not pulling out pieces or paper or flipping through 5 different cookbooks. I can make several copies so my daughters can take them to college one day.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Our family recipe book which contains my grandmothers, aunts and mother's recipes as well as ones I have collected myself is full of such gems as Pork Tenderloin cooked in Vermouth (the 1970's has a lot to answer for), Aunty Marion's Surprise Pudding, Everyday Stew and Nana's Shepherd's Pie. Every page is a little bit of our family history. I remember that bulging notebook propped on the counter throughout my childhood and the handwriting alone brings back memories of the recipe givers. Tt was the only thing I wanted to keep when my mother passed away. I hope my children have as many fond memories of that book as I do - and I wonder whether the recipes I have added will cause as much hilarity as the Pork in Vermouth when they look at it with their children.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

Lucy, I love your old family recipe book. It's like a family history that you can eat. So precious.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

I've been meaning to organize my recipes... I have some on notecards, some on computer print-outs, and lots bookmarked on the internet or in emails.

You're right about it being a lot of work! Today I made sourdough bread, homemade yogurt, cut up and re-froze a beef liver (I have yet to actually try cooking it), sourdough tortillas and veggie fajitas and I am so tired! Luckily a lot of the stuff will last for a few days or weeks.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Forgot to mention... I'm in the midst of gathering and organizing recipes for a family cookbook. It's been so fun and I was delighted to get some hand-written recipes from my great grandma!

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

The free program EVERNOTE is perfect for organizing recipes. They also have a mobile app, so you can access any recipes from your mobile device. Usually the ones we use over and over get printed out and placed in a family binder, but I love EVERNOTE for storing recipes I find online that I want to try.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKjirsti

I love cooking... I will star now collecting my family's recipe. Thanks for the idea...

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjuliemarg

I love cooking... I will star now collecting my family's recipe. Thanks for the idea...

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjuliemarg

I started a recipe blog, not public, just for me. It allows me to access my recipes while shopping, which is nice for a mom on the run. And, I will print a blog book so when my kids leave home, they will have a collection of our family's tried and true favorites! It was started on a whim and has turned out to be awesome!

July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTraci

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