Collect family recipes to create a permanent family legacy

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Family recipes represent more than delicious food ideas. They can reflect bygone eras and become a legacy from past generations.

If you look forward to Aunt Bea's peach pie at every family reunion, better get the recipe. Often a family member will become senile or pass away before we get a chance to record a few favorites for posterity.

While you're at it, start collecting an assortment of your family's classic favorites to preserve your heritage for future generations.

Start by taking advantage of family reunions.

When helping to plan a large-scale event, include a note on the invitations that older relatives who bring a well-known or much-beloved favorite should bring along a copy of the recipe. Then be sure to make copies and organize all the recipes that are brought to make a family-based "favorites" cookbook.

Even if your reunion only draws 20 or 30 relatives, you can start a collection of the best recipes and store them for future arrangement. At some point you will have enough to make at least a small cookbook for family distribution. You can also send out a call for recipes in the Family Newsletter. If no one has started a newsletter yet, now is the perfect time. Add a cooking column and feature a favorite menu item each month or in every edition of the newsletter whenever it goes out.

Set a box aside and clip copies of the recipes for future use. At some point you may want to fill a scrapbook, with photos and quotes, in lieu of a cookbook.

Tape record older relatives as they describe how they prepare old world strudel or handmade noodles. Take photographs as well and post them on the family Website for posterity. You can feature a new one every month, cycling through all the family members until each person has had a chance to talk about and share a favorite recipe. Then store them in a file that can be accessed later if desired.

Plan a one-to-one visit with each relative to catch up on old times. Include a few minutes of talk about foods and memories. For example, as they to talk about something they baked for a childhood Sunday school picnic or a home-catered family wedding.

Take notes from the conversation and write them up to be published as a family heirloom book. Add photographs of the relative cooking, eating, or holding their favorite meal item, or any food in general to promote the general idea of cooking and recipes.

Host a family potluck meal some Sunday afternoon. Invite relatives to bring a favorite dish that they created or modified from an earlier version. Ask them to also bring along copies of the recipe on index cards so interested family members can pick up copies of the recipes they most enjoy. Or you can create a simple form and provide markers for relatives to fill out when they bring their dish for the luncheon.

However you do it, don't let family favorites get forgotten or lost. Start collecting them now so they can become a permanent part of your family's legacy for generations to come.

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