I loved Belinda Hulin’s fourth cookbook, “Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story With Recipes” in which she documents her family’s culinary history in Lafayette and New Orleans. Hulin decided to write that wonderful book after favorite family recipes were nearly lost in Hurricane Katrina.
Now, she has written a terrifically useful book - “The Keepsake Cookbook: Gathering Delicious Memories One Recipe at a Time” (Lyons Press, paperback, $16.95) - to help others record their own families’ kitchen heritage.
The 167-page book is filled with plenty of practical advice on how to record family recipes and memories and to help nonprofit organizations develop cookbooks. She opens the book with a discussion on how to decide what kind of keepsake cookbook to create.
Hulin points out that the best books include more than recipes. They tell stories about the family and the food, family photos and snippets of information about an ancestor.
Hulin also notes that the book doesn’t have to be long. It can be about a particular holiday - for example, Christmas, Passover, Thanksgiving or St. Joseph’s Day. Think about doing a 12 Days of Christmas cookie cookbook or an Eight Nights of Hanukkah latke cookbook and later, if you like, adding more chapters, Hulin writes.
The book offers “getting started” blueprints for both family cookbooks and for group cookbooks. Most importantly, it explains how to collect and clarify both written and oral recipes; re-create “lost” recipes; and how to write a recipe with clear and usable instructions. She provides a list of some terms one might encounter in heirloom or ethnic recipes, and she discusses the giving of proper credit.
Hulin’s book is illustrated with black and white photographs and includes numerous “Fast Facts” or tidbits of culinary information, such as the State Dining Room in the White House can seat 140 dinner guests. It also includes printing and digital resources and some recipes for gifts from the kitchen.
This book is sure to be welcomed by anyone planning to write their own family cookbook.
Here’s a recipe from the Basic Cookery section of “The Keepsake Cookbook.”