Cooking: Keep it in the Family


Cooking has always been a family affair and one activity that your immediate family (should) always help out with. We may think that our seemingly weekly menu rotation is due to laziness however, those choices are likely to be heavily influenced by our upbringing, and indeed the upbringing of your parents. We all know the old adage ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’ however, when it comes to food, I’d venture that the real ‘spice’ comes from indulging in recipes past and the culinary delights of your ancestors.

Take this weekend for example. Whilst my brother was cooking an olive bread loaf to accompany a lasagne, I asked him where he’d found the recipe from- being a university student I knew that his culinary skills usually extended to pasta- so this was something really special. It was a recipe passed down from the Greek side of our family; given to him whilst visiting our relatives in Thessaloniki and apparently, he had been making it regularly at University in Bristol, England. If you’re interested, it was fabulous with olive oil and cherry tomatoes.

I share this story with you as it’s easy to forget the importance of passing recipes down. Many things have been shown to be genetically inherited and our love for certain foods is definitely among those. In that case then, surely we should be preserving the ‘foodline’? There could be hundreds of delectable recipes lost to the generations…

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a great shame and can be rectified with relative ease. Autumn Beck, an attorney in Pensacola, Florida decided to make a family cookbook after a call from relatives attempting, in vain, to copy the family creamy potatoes recipe. The end result? A book spanning four generations of family recipes, including “Kristin’s Crack Pasta” and “Double Cousin Bert’s Perfect Pecan Pie”, among other delightful recipes. The book has been very valuable to her family and, incidentally, quite the commercial success.

I urge you then to gather those recipes into any form that you may wish. Whether that be a tatty notebook or a laptop, preserving this information should be done with the same fervor as our family trees. I can’t guarantee you’ll get a publisher though!

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  • Shauna Hicks

    August 15, 2011

    Wish I still had my grandmother’s recipes – she made a lovely coconut icecream which I’ve never been able to duplicate.

  • Annie Payne

    August 15, 2011

    I make my grandma’s Christmas Cake recipe every year, plus her Christmas pudding recipe. She taught me how to make scones when I was 3 and her sponge cake is still the one I bake for special occasions. As a cook with a much envied ‘light touch’, she taught me how to use fresh ingredients, home grown fruit and not to waste anything!

  • Ruth Wilson

    August 15, 2011

    Absolutely right. I was taught to cook at home, and in the Girl Guides. So I made sure my three could cook well before they left for university. Now it’s my job as Granny to encourage the next generation to do the same. Baking kit for 3rd birthday of eldest granddaughter for example. Although she already loves ‘helping’.