Building an “Open” Community Cookbook

Good food brings families together.

This message was a key theme of the Museum’s Family Day celebrations this year. Through a variety of activities and special displays, we encouraged visitors to explore the relationship between food and family traditions, including the special meaning we place on family recipes. You can check out Family Dinners: Serving More than Food for a “taste” of what we shared.

We asked visitors to share their favourite family recipes with us on what we called “open community cookbooks” and the result was fantastic! Children, parents, and grandparents brought in recipes from home, or took the time to write out recipes on the cards provided. Recipes range from the Filipino dish Chicken Adobo, the “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever”, and lots of other tasty dishes that brim with family tradition and heritage as evident from the names attributed to the recipes shared. Perhaps these dishes are prepared for special holidays, or are considered a regular staple in the kitchen. Perhaps their aromas and tastes immediately evoke feelings of comfort and home.

The open community cookbook board on display on Family Day at the Museum.

Often, the recipes we use to prepare specific dishes for family meals have been passed down through generations. Such recipes, their specific ingredients, and methods of preparation, reflect a family’s cultural or ethnic heritage, and these become sources of family identity and pride. When we cook these dishes, their aromas and tastes thread through time and space, evoking the same senses as our ancestors would have experienced around their dinner tables, or wherever family meals were shared.

To share a family recipe with others is to share a part of a family’s lineage and food traditions. It is a meaningful act that can foster a sense of connection. Such recipes are often passed down through generations, and their specific ingredients and methods of preparation reflect a family’s cultural or ethnic heritage. So, to connect our community even further, we thought we would share the family recipes collected on Family Day here on the blog.

Take a look below and choose a recipe to try this weekend!

Nanay’s Adobo.
Kathy’s Chicken.
Baba’s Hello Dollies.
Grandma Baker’s Open-Faced Rhubarb Pie.
Slebila Family Rice Ball Cracker.
Mrs. Aykrod’s Slush.
Turkey Broccoli Pasta (Open Pot).
Mommy’s Yebra.
Best Chocolate Chip Recipe Ever!
Abbey’s Yorkshire Pudding.
Some visitors chose to share the names of their favourite dishes. The recipes that seem to hold special meaning are those associated with other family members. Is there a there a specific food where the smell or taste reminds you of someone in your family?

What’s your favourite family recipe? Post in the comments to help keep this community cookbook growing!

Sara Nixon is a public historian and Public Programmer at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre.

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