Discover Your Family’s Recipe Story

February 2, 2017  - by 

Mom’s Autumn Surprise

As a kid, every year in my hometown when the warm playful days of summer turned into the cooler, more serious days of fall, I’d head back to school with my sisters. One lucky day, when the obvious crispness of fall could be felt in the air, we’d trudge home from school lugging our newly filled backpacks and open the door of the house to a delicious smell—apple crisp. I can’t even think about it without my mouth watering. To this day, every time I feel that first chill in the air I get a hankering for my favorite family dessert. But there’s more to it than the smell or the taste—it’s the memories. Apple crisp reminds me of my mom and gives me a sweet feeling of being connected to her, my sisters, and my maternal grandma—because she used to make it too.

Baking apple crisp with family
Making Food and Family History

You might not have considered food as being connected to family history, but it is. Good food has a way of bringing families together, and anytime families gather—even to eat—family history is made.

What’s a Family Recipe?

Every family has a recipe or two that they cherish—family recipes. Family recipes are certain foods that remind us of warm feelings and happy memories with the ones we love. These can be foods our family always makes for celebrations and events and, more often, foods we enjoy eating together all the time. Some family recipes have been passed down for so many generations that we aren’t even sure where they originated. Other family recipes are in their infancy. These are recipes that you try for the first time and they stick. We call these “keepers” at my house.

Family recipes tell a story. They’re often connected to people, places, and special memories. They have a who, a where, and a why. You’re making family history when you prepare and eat these foods with your family.

Take some time to write down who has shared family recipes with you. Where did the recipes come from? Why are they meaningful to you? Even better, share your family recipes online by uploading them to the FamilySearch Memories App. Here they will be preserved and accessible to your family members and friends near and far. You can also share your family recipes on social media by using the hashtag #FamilySearch. This is also a fun way to discover exciting new recipes shared by families from all over the world.

Printable recipe story card

Download the printable version here.
Printable family recipe cards

Download this recipe card here.

Discover Your Family Recipe Story

  1. What foods did/does your family eat on a regular basis?
  2. Did your parents, grandparents, or loved ones teach you how to make certain foods?
  3. What food(s) do you look forward to on special occasions/holidays?
  4. Who likes to cook in your family? Ask them if they’ve collected any family recipes.
  5. Is there a recipe in your family that you and all of your extended family make?
  6. What foods do you make that your family asks for?
  7. Are there foods your family makes at certain times of the year?
  8. What foods do you associate with good memories?
  9. Who is the oldest person in your family? Ask them if they have any family recipes to share. Do they have recipes from their parents or grandparents?
  10. Are there any recipes in your family that require special ingredients or skills to make?

Sample recipies found on Memories
Discovery your family's heritage recipe story
How to start family food traditions from scratch
Sample recipies found on Memories
Discovery your family's heritage recipe story
How to start family food traditions from scratch
Rocky Road Fudge family recipe
Sweet Potato Pie family recipe
Chocolate Chip Cookies family recipe
Spring Rolls family recipe
Lau Lau family recipe
Adobo family recipe
Pasta al’olio con Aglio e Pepperoncini  family recipe
Bread Pudding family recipe
French Onion Soup family recipe

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  1. Last April, a second cousin who I had not seen in about 40 years hosted a small gathering of family members who were reseaching the same two family lines. There were four of us who met that day; Steve, our host; Pat, a first cousin who had most of the old family photos; Holly, who had started much of the tree building; and myself, who had done most of the research into the Sicilian records.

    I decided that it would be appropriate for a gathering of Italians to make my mother’s Italian cookies, and brought them along as a surprise. The recipe for those cookies originally came from my grandmother; they were traditionally reserved for Christmas and special occasions.

    As it turned out, Holly had the same thought — she decided to surprise everyone by bringing cookies made directly from her great-grandmother’s (my grandmother’s sister’s) recipe. And Steve admitted that he had thought about making Italian cookies (also from my grandmother’s sister’s recipe), but that his wife had talked him out of it since they already had enough food to serve.

    We were sure that both my grandmother Annie and my great aunt Josephine had to have started from a common base; not only were the ingredients the same and the proportions similar, both recipes called for the same brand of out-of-production shortening (Spry). Holly’s was the truest to the original, as her measurements for all ingredients were still listed in pounds rather than cups.

    We had to chuckle over how many of us had the same specific treat in mind, noting the similarities and remarking on the variations that have crept into my mother’s recipe over the years.

  2. My family moved in August and my mom let me go through the family history stuff. Happened upon a cookbook my great grandpa Stovall wrote in 1932. “Jean’s Junior Cook Book”, by William G. Stovall. Depression era recipes amazing to me. He was in advertizing for Briardale Foods in Iowa. I actually found a second copy on amazon and grabbed it up never a bad thing to have a backup of a family heirloom like that.