July 18, 2016

How to Make a Simple Yet Awesome Recipe Booklet

The end of a life season has a certain power to make my tear ducts drizzle with emotion, even though I claim to not be much of a crier. That's when I whip out words on paper to commemorate the significance of it to those I shared it with. Usually it's in a card, but this time it was in a little recipe book project.

You see, there once was a group of budding editors, fresh out of school, who tried to "make it" in the dreamy world of lifestyle magazines. Our common bond? Potlucks. These were not affairs of rotisserie chickens, store-bought cookies, and a six pack, mind you. They were themed with each participant contributing a coordinating dish to make for a feast that impressed us in all our food editor-ness every time. And it was always homemade.

Although our careers took different paths and sent us to new parts of town, the potlucks didn't stop. There were tamale parties at Christmas, backyard barbecues in the summer, Downton Abbey watching feasts in the bleak midwinter, brunches just because, and always, always a fall party with a pumpkin stuffed full of a rice-and-ground-beef casserole-like concoction.

Eventually, there came lunches to celebrate engagements and talk of what will happen when things change, when some of us were planning to move away.
That's when I sent out the email, and the recipes started flooding in. We had to have the pumpkin of course, and the corn salad we all remembered from the barbecue. Bri's famous brownies and artichoke dip were musts. And along came some of our favorites that might not have made for potlucks but we thought should be shared.

And so when wedding time came for two of these ladies, two weeks apart, I bought them a gift off the registry of course. But more importantly, I packed up a flip book of words and photos that are as much about the memories and life shared together as they are about ingredients and procedures, and the extra copies went to the single ladies who compiled, edited, and shared their test kitchen secrets (shout out to the food editor and test kitchen professional among us!) because it's not like we were going to be left out.

I made a more time-intensive, fancily published family cookbook on Blurb a few years back, but this time a took a simpler route. Here's how:

1. I asked friends for recipes and photos.

2. I compiled them in a Word document and shipped them off to the food editor among us, who graciously edited them line by line and divvied them up into sections: Pre-Show Munchies, Sips and Sauces and Rounding Out the Plate. We also pow wowed on a name and tag line.

3. I designed a cover with photos from our most picturesque potluck, divider pages with a list of recipes, and recipe pages, all four to a 8.5x11-inch piece of paper.

4. After a round of editing in layout, I printed the recipes on white card stock, the covers and divider pages in color and the recipe pages in black and white, and I had FedEx Office cut them into quarter sheets with their fancy insta-cutter.

5. I hole punched the top left of each quarter sheet and threw a hole punch confetti party on my table.

6. I collected all of the papers all into stacks in their proper order and bound them together with a binder ring for easy flipping in the future.

7. Viola, commemoration recipe project success.

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