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Family recipes make unique, treasured gifts

Writer: Dr. Mariah Smith Morgan, MSU Extension Service

Most holiday get-togethers involve tables heavily laden with favorite family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Recently, a friend asked me to help her put together a family cookbook as a gift. Creating a personalized cookbook can be a great gift idea for your family, but creating one can be an ordeal.

If you want to go the easy route, the simplest thing to do is type up the recipes in Microsoft Word, print out the pages and have them bound at your local printing store. To create those difficult fractions, left-click on the “Insert” tab and then left-click the “Symbol” icon that appears at the end of the menu. In the drop-down menu, left-click “More Symbols” and scroll down until you see the desired fraction. Left-click “Insert.”

However, to create a truly memorable gift, we can step it up a notch or two. This is where it can get tricky and time-consuming. The easiest (and I use that term loosely) method I have found for creating a memorable cookbook is to use an existing card, such as one in grandmother’s handwriting, to make a new one, or to create the recipe card with a software program and then scan or convert it to an image. The image file can then be uploaded to an online photo site where it can be combined with other family photos to make a remarkable gift.

You will need a digital version of a recipe card. Try searching online for free, printable recipe cards. The HP Creative Studio ( has several cards online that can be downloaded, or there are several free cards available on Pinterest. If a download button is not available, right-click on the image and in the pop-up window that appears, left-click “Save Picture As.” Save the recipe card to the “My Pictures” folder in “My Documents.”

Open PowerPoint and left-click the “Design” tab. Next, left-click “Page Setup” and change the width and height to either 3x5 or 4x6 inches. If uploading the recipe cards to an online photo book, remember that four 4x6 recipes cards will fit on one page. Left-click “OK.” Insert the recipe card onto the slide. Use the edit tools to crop any unnecessary white space around the card. Resize the recipe card using the corner handles if possible. Using the corner handles helps maintain the image’s proportions.

Next, draw a text box for you to add the name of the recipe, ingredients and instructions. If you are having trouble positioning the text box, remember that if you hold down the control key and press the arrow key at the same time, it will nudge the box slowly, giving you better control over placement. Make sure the text box fill and line fill are set to none. To copy the text box, simply select the text box, hold the control key down and use the left mouse button to duplicate the text box. Drag it to the desired location.

Once you have created your recipe card, save it as a JPEG image. Left-click “File” and then “Save As, Name Your File (recipe card).” In the “Save As” field, scroll down until you see the JPEG option. Next, save the image. The image will save in a folder in your “My Documents” folder. Open the online photo service you have selected and upload the images to the photo book.

A family heirloom cookbook doesn’t have to be just recipes. It can include family photos, stories and anecdotes. Don’t forget to scan in your great-great-grandmother’s recipes so future generations can see something she actually wrote. Family cookbooks are a fun way to keep the family traditions alive this Christmas and in many Christmases to come.

Source: Family recipes make unique, treasured gifts

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