Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cath's Little Brown Book

One of my fellow Blog With Pip girls, Rachael from The Bowerbird Girl, did a fabulous blog post on a  photography book she made through Blurb, which has prompted me to share with you my little Blurb book.

Last year after googling how to make my own cook book I discovered Blurb - I had never heard of it before.  (Oh by the way this is not a sponsored post - good lordy I'm sure they don't even know that I exist!)

My Mum had a cookbook that she wrote some of her favourite recipes in.
She'd had this book ever since she was a very young lady.
Now that Mum is gone, this recipe book is very special to all of us.
How do you share a book between five siblings who would all love to have it?

Last September I borrowed the book for a couple of weeks and scanned every page, every hand written note and every splat and stain.
And I smiled, laughed and cried … and cried some more.

I found recipes tucked in the back in my grandmother's hand writing - a lovely lady who died when my own mother was only 19.  Such neat, delicate twirly letters that probably gave Mum comfort as they were placed carefully in the back of her book.

I gathered together lots of other recipes that were distinctively Mum - the desserts and cakes that we have grown up with.  The family food traditions that we loved and now share with our own families.
We found photos - lots and lots of them - that showed all the different phases of our lives with Mum and they were all scanned too.

All of these images, scans and recipes were loaded into the Blurb software to create "Cath's Little Brown Book".
A beautiful hard covered copy was printed for each of my siblings and given to them at Christmas on what would have been Mum's 70th birthday.  A very personal memento of life with a lovely woman.

If you have a special person in your life with a special cookbook I strongly recommend doing the same - it was simple, only as time consuming as you want to make it and the quality of the end product is beautiful.

I only wish that I had thought to do it when Mum was still with us so that she could share in the process and tell us the history behind some of the recipes.

And here is what is left from yesterday's batch of (great) Aunty Melva's Afgans (recipe above - bake for about 10 mins).  I'm trying very hard to leave them for the kids after school … but they keep calling me … and they're sooo yummy …



  1. You've made me cry! What a beautiful tribute to your Mum (and hers) and a wonderful keepsake for the 5 of you.
    Love it! xxx

  2. Brilliant, love it! I did a little handmade cookbook called 'baked by valma' which was my aunty val's recipies. You may have just inspired me to 'blurb it up'.

  3. Wow what a lovely post, made me fill up and what a fantastic idea, the book looks great, what a great thing to have. I will have to google afgans, I've never heard of them but they look delicious!

    1. They're little chocolate biscuits with crushed cornflakes in them. Nothing too fancy but very yummy!

  4. I had tears in my eyes after reading your post Jenny. Both of my grandmothers have passed on and one was a very good cook and I know she had a book like this. It has reminded me that I need to start collating recipes for my kids. Stephanie Alexander had a similar project called "Recipes My Mother Gave Me" have you seen it?

    1. I have that book too Carolyn - it is great.
      Mum & Grandma recipes are the best. I hope you can lay your hands on yours :)

  5. that is just beautiful Jen i hope you have those yummy butterfly cakes in it, no doubt a sponge or two...

  6. Oh Jenny reading the blurb of your mums book gave me goosebumps, what a thoughtful and beautiful gift for your siblings. Its probably a bit old fashioned of me but I also have a book that I write my recipes into with the intention of passing it on to my girls one day I hope they cherish it as much as you clearly do your mums x

  7. I too have a handwritten recipe book that my mum had and she too has passed away nearly a year ago so I can totally relate to this beautiful story. What a wonderful and special idea


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