There were many ideas and thoughts that went into this recipe book. Really, when you get right down to it, this has become a document of our family history. As I read the stories and anecdotes and see the photos included of not just food, but our family, I find myself reminiscing over living overseas and travelling extensively all over the world and what a wonderful childhood my parents made for my brothers and me.
While I love all aspects of the book, I think my favorite part are the appendices. One of them is dedicated solely to ingredients. I am second generation Taiwanese and I cannot read the writing, so when I go to Chinese grocery stores, I recognize ingredients, but I can’t read the labels to see if they are the correct types of ingredients (is it spicy? Does it have garlic flavoring? etc. etc.) As for my brothers, I don’t know if they ever paid attention to the ritualistic grocery shopping and the time my mom took to pore over each packaged and canned good. So, we devised a section to take care of just that. We have one appendix section dedicated solely to a photo dictionary of all of the packaged, canned and bottled goods that my mom uses in her cooking, followed by a short description of it’s use, flavor, or other pertinent information. I have already used this section extensively. Then we have a photo section for all of the various vegetables, meats, and fish found in the Chinese grocery stores and how you can prepare them. I must say I am much more well-versed in the various foods now that I was before.
The other awesome appendix is based on preparation. Have you ever wondered how to wrap that bun? How do they get all that rice into the bamboo leaves with the meat perfectly in the middle? How do you clean a whole squid? How do you cut up a chicken and re-assemble it on a plate to look whole again? Well, we have a section with a photo tutorial on all of these questions and more!
For our wonderful family masterpiece, I ended up using an online publishing company called blurb.com. I found this site through one of my graphic designer friends. While there were a couple sites to choose from, this one seemed to suit my purposes the best. Since I started this so long ago, the only option was to use the blurb proprietary software. Since it was still fairly new, there weren’t many options on customizing layouts, but since I took my sweet time, I was able to upgrade the software 3-4 times, where they built in template customization and other cool tools. Now they even have an interface with Adobe InDesign where you can import an InDesign file into their program instead of using their software, making customization literally endless. They have also improved their printing options, offering many varieties of papers to print on as well for the inside face of the book.
Our family recipe book clocked in at a whopping 310 pages. No wonder it took 10 years! While I am so relieved that this is done, I…. no… I’m just relieved that this is done! If you have any interest at all in purchasing a copy, I have included the link below, where you can preview the first 15 pages of the book. I hope you enjoy!