Owner of Worthington-based Igloo Letterpress holds some of the books the company has put together.
One of the things that give the holidays their warmth is the home-cooked dishes we share as families.
So when a present off the shelf at a store won’t do, you might consider turning to your own kitchen cupboards for inspiration and assembling a compendium of family recipes to give a gift with a personal touch.
The first step in assembling a cookbook is deciding what recipes you want to feature. Planning out your cookbook well in advance is important if you need to gather recipes from other family members – and especially if you want to include photos of each dish, as did Columbus resident Rachel Tayse Baillieul.
“I wanted to do it … in 2010. I sat down to start writing to make a list of all the recipes that I thought were unique to our family, and I didn’t have pictures of all of them and I didn’t have details for all of the recipes,” Baillieul says. “That was around Thanksgiving, so I just couldn’t pull it together before Christmas.”
In the following year, Baillieul took photos of recipes as she and her family members made them and asked clarifying questions when necessary. Aware of her food and urban homesteading blog Hounds in the Kitchen, www.houndsinthekitchen.com, her family didn’t find Baillieul’s activities suspicious.
Take a look at the recipes you have and decide how you’d like to arrange them. Baillieul’s list was heavy on baked goods, so she hunted down a few additional recipes to balance it out and then chose to arrange the book by season, interspersing recipes with snippets of family memories. An editor friend read through the recipes for her to catch typos and missed recipe steps.
Once you have your recipes together, it’s time to decide on how you’d like to format the book.
Made from Scrap
If you’re digitally challenged or a crafting enthusiast, consider a scrapbook-style cookbook. Using a scrapbook from any craft or hobby store – or a screw-post book from Igloo Letterpress in Worthington, starting at $35 – you can print or hand-write your recipes and illustrate them with photographs, or embellish them with stickers and colorful paper.
A big plus of going this route is you don’t have to use a computer program for layout, which could be confusing if you don’t already know how to use one. A major drawback, however, is that the project will be time-consuming – especially if you plan to make multiple books.
With just a little time at the computer typing up your recipes in Microsoft Word on a standard 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper, you open up a wealth of options for how to present your finished product.
Once you have your recipes typed and laid out on the page, consider taking them to a local print shop such as a FedEx Office or, even better, a local printer such as The Monk’s Copy Shop in Worthington or downtown Columbus. Copy shops use laser printing, which doesn’t smear when it gets wet, as ink-jet printing from a home printer does.
For a single 8.5” x 11” 50-page cookbook with a color cover with clear vinyl and coil binding, Monk’s quoted $44.48. For printing alone, the charge is $15.01.
If you want to upgrade from a spiral-bound book, cart your printed pages over to Igloo and have owner Allison Chapman help you select from her three styles of bound books. Igloo offers “perfect bound” books in hard or soft cover, screw-post books, and elastic bound books.
“Often, when people come here, they’re either looking for an heirloom-quality piece they can make a copy of for every sibling and grandchild, or they’re looking for something that can get sauce on it in the kitchen,” Chapman says. “We try to balance that depending on what people are looking for.”
Both the perfect bound books (glued binding) and the screw-post books allow for double-sided printing, which means easy layout and printing. The elastic bound book is a little more complex in its printing layout, though it can be assembled much more quickly.
“If you think about a folded sheet of paper, page 1 and page 4 are on the same sheet,” Chapman explains. “Then if you think about nesting (the pages), it’s actually page 1 and page 16. It does get complicated for folks who are just doing it in … Microsoft Word or something.”
Chapman says to allow 10 days for Igloo to craft book covers.
For a deluxe, hard-bound tome, consider west Columbus-based Beck & Orr. The 124-year-old book-binding operation is in the business of binding small batches of books in prices starting around $50-75 each (volume discounts may apply depending on the number of identical copies ordered).
“We do it by hand,” says Beck & Orr’s longtime owner, Ron Bowman. “We have machines, but we don’t have anything we can use to mass-produce books.”
Though known for its thesis-binding, the company has produced family cookbooks in the past. Staffers work with professional printers for the inside material and color dust jackets. The hard-bound copies have sewn binding and cloth or leather covers, which can be imprinted with foil or topped with a photograph, if desired. Beck & Orr aims for a quality product that will last for generations.
“Most books today are covered in paper. I don’t even mess with that stuff,” Bowman says.
Turnaround for a small run of books is usually a few weeks.
Shake and Bake
Crunched for time or feel overwhelmed? Plug your typed recipes into an online cookbook creator such as www.cookbookpublishers.com, which offers a variety of templates for a professionally-designed look without all the work. You can even send in a packet of recipes and have Cookbook Publishers’ staff type them up.
The company offers comb binding, printed binding and spiral binding. Prices start around $4.40 each for a run of 100 books with as many as 150 recipes; the site’s target market is those using cookbooks for fundraising efforts, so 100 is the minimum order.
At Tastebook.com, you can complement your family recipes with some from the site’s vast collection of recipes available for purchase and put them both into a binder-style cookbook that allows for the removal and reorganization of pages at will. Tastebooks start at $39.95 each and come with 99 recipe credits.
No matter the style, your volume of hand-selected recipes is sure to be appreciated by those who unwrap it – even if it takes a few years for the cookbook’s true value to show itself.
“They thought it was great,” Baillieul says of her end product. “I’m not sure that anyone has actually used it because they all have recipes that they’ve written down elsewhere, but a lot of our recipes are shoved in a box written in a sidebar or something. I think that eventually, someone will appreciate that it’s in a digital format.”
Lisa Aurand is a contributing editor. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.