Fran’s Favorites: Creating family cookbooks


I love cookbooks. I love to look at them. I love the little community cookbooks with the best practical recipes. I love the beautifully illustrated ones to browse through and get ideas for mealtimes or entertaining. And I love family cookbooks.

I made my first little cookbook 40 years ago. For me, campaigning was difficult because I was shy. I wanted something to give to people that was fun and told just a little about us. I used to joke to Mike that I wanted to give people something that would make them smile, and something they would keep a lot longer than his literature!

But I really feel that everyone should make a family cookbook. It’s the way that you share your favorite recipes with your family and friends, and save them forever. We all have memories of foods our parents or grandparents made that we wish we had gotten the recipe for or taken the time to learn. When I wanted to learn to make my Grandmother Struewing’s noodles, I went to her house to watch her and re-measure all the ingredients. When she said “as much flour as the eggs will hold,” I had to touch and feel what she meant, and then measure approximately how much flour that was!

There are so many ways to make a cookbook today. When I made my first one, I first tried to type up my favorite recipes. But from a design point of view it wasn’t very attractive. My friend Josie suggested that I just hand print them, put a border around them, and then let my kids do the illustrations. So that has been my formula for making my cookbooks. I did a lot of cutting and pasting (literally) on my first cookbooks. Now you can do it on your computer if you like, and drop in lots of family photos.

In making family cookbooks, the “story” of the recipe is really important, too. We love to know whose recipe it was, and when they served it and how you might vary it.

So on these last few grey days of winter, I encourage you to start going through your old recipes. Pick out your favorites. Find the best recipes from your mother or grandmother or best friend, or your dad’s best grilling recipe. Make the recipes! Write your comments or stories. Simply paste each recipe on a page and photocopy, or publish a beautiful book. This might be your Christmas present next year!

When you go through these recipes, you’re bound to find some fun ones you just haven’t made in awhile. I rediscovered this one from my 10th cookbook. It is one of my daughter Jill’s recipes, and her little sister Anna did the illustration. It sounds like something good to serve on these cold evenings. I’m going to make it this weekend!

Jill’s Smothered Chicken Enchiladas

5 to 6 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 package taco seasoning

1 4.5-ounce can green chilies, divided

Mix the chicken, taco seasoning and half the green chilies and set aside.

Mix together:

half the chilies

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 16-ounce container sour cream

Pour half the soup mixture in a 9-inch by 13-inch lightly greased baking dish.

8 8-inch flour tortillas

Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas. Roll up. Place over soup mixture in dish. Put remaining soup mixture over top. Cover with:

2 8-ounce cups shredded cheddar cheese

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Garnish with salsa, green onions, sour cream and cilantro as desired.

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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