Recipe Recall

If you’re feeling inspired to celebrate your own family this FHM, may we suggest a fun way to do that:

Sometimes, family members have a hard time freely sharing information when they feel they’re in the “spotlight.” One great way to get folks to loosen up is to ask them to make a famous family recipe with you. As you prep the ingredients and the dish, you can more naturally ask questions about the recipe, such as:

  • How/where it was created
  • Who created it
  • How it’s been passed down over the years
  • Any tweaks made, like substitutions or secret ingredients added to the recipe.

These questions will likely inspire the chef to remember and share more details about the recipe, leading to other insights about their life.

You'll likely be amazed at how much new information you may get. From personal experience making a recipe recording, my family learned that the origins of a favorite cookie recipe were not from Italy, as commonly assumed, but were actually from relatives in Canada whom our aunt had stayed with as a newlywed and recent emigree from Italy. And we learned that one day Aunt Nilla subbed powdered milk for fresh when it was hard to find, and liking the taste and texture of the modified cookies better than the original, used this as a secret ingredient ever since; the handwritten recipe didn’t note the substitution, so no wonder no one had ever been able to make the cookies taste as good as Aunt Nilla’s.

If you and your relative are open to it, you can take this to the next level by videotaping the session. Just grab a phone and a tripod (you can buy an inexpensive one on Amazon) and set it at a wide enough view to capture the whole cooking area. Be sure to do a quick test clip to ensure the video area is set properly and that the voices are picked up clearly on your recording. You can even use the test run to have the family chef state their name, birthday/place, parents, and siblings. Why not use it to document family history, right?

Be sure to take photos along the way, especially of handwritten recipe cards. When you’re done, share the video and photos with your family. They’ll cherish this memory and likely feel even more connected to this special recipe and family chef.