Friday, December 25, 2009
A long time ago, in a land far, far away I went to community college. I attended a lecture by a collage artist. She had started making calendars as Christmas gifts. That is how I got the idea to make cookbooks as Christmas gifts. I have always loved kitschy 40s and 50s housewives so I started collecting old magazines and using their graphics and ads to decorate the cookbooks.
There was a really cool lady named Dody working at the copy shop in Long Beach and she gave me a really good deal copying and spiral-binding the cookbooks. But even better, she took the project personally and worked hard to make the graphics perfect. The type was always lined up as well as any professional book.
The first Mom Food was an attempt to collect my mother's recipes along with some friend's mother's recipes. As time went on, I realized every country has moms and my recipes became more exotic. The originator of the recipe is given when known. Sometimes I've been given a recipe and later found it on a package of sweetened condensed milk, so it's not always perfect. I have searched Epicurious and the LA Times to check old recipes and have found the provenance of some.
For nine years I faithfully printed Mom Foods until the demand grew to over 100. I decided Mom Food X should be a best of. This labor of love grew so intensive I never quite finished it, years went by, and I was waiting for technology to catch up. Then at my dad's funeral someone held both of my hands in theirs and said, "Your dad was so proud of those cookbooks you used to make." So that year I printed the slightly more dense Mom Food X with all new recipes.
Now I have Printshop and I am able to scan in the original "glued-on graphics" pages of Mom Food, then switch around the graphics, shrink and expand them, and fix the many, many typos. So that is a long-term project, and blogging does eat up a lot of my free time.
This Christmas my family decided to have a green Christmas and re-work, reuse and recycle objects. My brother Glen and sister-in-law Janine brought my to tears by handing me a huge tome. They had bound all of the Mom Foods into a beautiful embossed cover. My dream realized.
I will still have to go through Printshop and fix those typos, but it was a vision of what my book can be someday. And I had no idea how many pages there were! There were almost 400 pages!
Many of the contributors to Mom Food have since passed on, and older family members have started to entrust me with our great-grandmother's recipes. I feel like this is my role in the family. I am the keeper of the family's culinary history. It is my duty to pass down these old recipes to the next generation. And if I am lucky they will cherish them the way I have.