After being laid off from an advertising agency during the Tech Bust in 2001, I found myself with a rare spot of free time and decided to create a family cookbook. I am semi-obsessed with taking on gargantuan projects, and this one was mainly to make sure we recorded my maternal grandmother’s deliciously eclectic recipe collection for all to share.
Mamaw was born to Serbian parents, but spent most of her life in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus, she ate baklava and homemade pita bread just as often as she ate Southern beef stew and hoppin’ john. The initial cookbook found me borrowing dozens of recipes at a time, typing them into Word docs, and then having the final product color-copied and spiral bound at Kinko’s.
I thought it was beautiful.
But just as soon as the thing was “published,” we realized just how many recipes I’d left out... “What about the recipe for Mamaw’s lamb? Or that cold cucumber salad she makes?” “Where’s poteca bread? I don’t see it in here.” The second edition was already a glimmer in my eye.
Mamaw’s passing last year was the catalyst I needed for a major overhaul. Her enormous wooden recipe box was handed off to me, and I feverishly began to transcribe every recipe I could. In the box I discovered faded letters from the old country hand written in Serbian. I adored looking through the entire section involving jello molds. And I loved asking my mom to tell me over and over about how Mamaw used to make her own Phyllo dough, stretching it long and thin across the dining room chairs.
The final product arrived last week: 400 recipes from family, friends, and neighbors, soft bound with descriptions, stories, and hilarious old pictures: http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/380100
Shout out to Blurb.com, a brilliant software company that lets you self-publish your own books… The software is easy to use and FREE, and the final product is absolutely gorgeous. Create your own soft- or hard-cover books with travel photos, poetry, wedding memorabilia, or the next great American novel, which -- perhaps -- is next on my list of gargantuan projects for the undertaking.