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A lock-down project - a cookbook

Years ago now I made a cookbook for my two sons based around their ten favourite meals. I think I probably did it shortly after my retirement. The dates on the files seem to be 2002/3. I was probably looking around for things to do in my now limitless amounts of spare time. If it was indeed in 2002 that I began this project it was probably also just about the time that my older son had returned from his years overseas. I think my younger son was still away at that time. At that time neither of them cooked very much and so I decided to make them a book with all their favourite dishes in them.

I 'made' it using InDesign, but unfortunately I can no longer open the original files because I no longer subscribe to InDesign, and so I do not have the cover which was created separately to the core of the book. Fortunately I did make a pdf of the rest of it and above is the picture on the title page - of a very young family.

I did set out to just do the recipes, but, being me, it rapidly became rather more than that. A mini history of my own culinary influences, bits of my life too - with old photos like the one above, and a mini discourse on what you should have in your kitchen. And then when I came to do the recipes I added bits and pieces so that they could expand from the original. To my immense relief they were delighted with the end result and indeed still use it.

I wa so chuffed by this that over the years I have added to their collection with various other more subject specific books - quick dishes, cheap dishes, my 'gurus', favourite ingredients. And the current lockdown, and my eternal need to be doing something new, made me start another one yesterday - this time using Pages - so all the design work is done for me. This one, however, may well come to nothing. it was probably a fit of enthusiasm that will pass.

Anyway I thought I would offer this exercise as something you could try if you are running out of ideas of what to do. If your children are now too old for this - mine would have been around 30 at the time I wrote that first one - well there are always the grandchildren. And maybe you would be surprised by your children's reaction. I know I was. I didn't think they would pay any attention to it at all. And I have to say that they are both now accomplished cooks and also much more interested in exploring new ideas in the kitchen. They say it was because of that book - although of course that may just be flattery.

Also several years ago when it was my turn to 'do' a book for my local book group I decided to 'do' cookbooks. As part of the exercise I asked everyone to bring along a favourite cookbook to the meeting and was surprised, and rather touched to see that a goodly few brought along hand-written books of various kinds handed down from their mothers. Back in the day, of course, we had no other way of passing on these things. And it seems people have been doing this for a very long time. The one above is quite old, but I also found some from back as far as the seventeenth century. These are precious things. And, alas, i do not have one from my own mother.

In a way my own efforts will not be as precious. There is no actual handwriting involved. I suppose they are a personal production but nevertheless handwriting is so much more personal is it not? When you see an old signature you are forced to realise that this signature was actually created by a person - his or her hand wrote it. It's a physical thing. A computer produced document is not quite the same thing, no matter how personal the text. Do you think that in the future anyone will be able to write?

Anyway I throw it out there as an idea for you to do if you are stuck for things to stimulate your creativity in these very different times. It's actually a fun exercise and you can put so much more into it than food.


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