Organizing Grandma's Old Recipes

tizzylizzOctober 27, 2007


I'm not sure if this is where I could post this, but, I'm hoping I could get some ideas. I have my Grandmothers recipes--most of them are really old, hand written on those 3x5 index cards. Most of them are yellowed & pretty stained. I think there are about 100-150 or so.

I would like to organize them & make copies to give out to her daughters & all the granddaughters & great granddaughters.

Would anyone have any good ideas on how to accomplish this? I'd love to somehow get the front and backs of each recipe. I know there will be many that will be hard to read or understand--but, it is more important that I preserve the fact that she wrote the recipe (does that make sense?).

I've tried to think of different ways to do this & so far I cannot seem to figure it out. :)

Any thoughts would be greatly apprechiated. Thank you!

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Scan them into a computer and then you can print them out individually or compile them in a book...ready made or you could have them binded.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 11:25PM
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I had a similar problem when trying to integrate my mom's recipes with my mother-in-law's plus new ones I find on the internet or get from friends. My solution (which I love)was to buy a special photo album. It is a vertical one, 12.5" x 9" with three slots on each page to hold index cards. Then on the side of each card slot there is a space to write a special note about each recipe. This size photo album is a little hard to find, but you can find them in T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, or on the internet. When I found one that had a chef on the cover, I bought five of them so that I could make albums for my children in the future. The photo album did not have tabs for each category of recipes so I added inexpensive stick-on divider tabs and inserted my own labels. Good Luck... I hope this can be useful for you too!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 11:27PM
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Dora Vann Snider

I printed all of our recipes out in "Word". Then I put them in a folder titled recipes. Then I put them on a CD and gave each person their personalized CD. Can't count the times I have popped them in the CD player to get a recipe. They are in alphabetical order.

You might google and find some free software about doing this. My daughter found one called "ACCUCHEF" and it had the various tabs and was quite thorough. Think she may have paid a small price for it. I had it on my computer until it crashed and lost everything. Thank goodness she had a copy. It seems like we found several websites on how to do this.

Good Luck
Dora Lou

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 1:38AM
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Dora Vann Snider

E-Chef: The Cooking Revolution site has a lot of good info.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 2:00AM
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Thanks everyone for the ideas so far! I really wanted to be able to give everyone a copy of the orginal handwritten recipe. I have considered scanning them, but, many have the recipe written on both sides of the 3x5 not sure how to handle that. If I could get both sides scanned, I could but them in a 12x9 album as happymom to look at the websites that texaspanhandler suggested....thanks, keep the ideas coming :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 6:58AM
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scan front and back,then cut and paste to put both onto one page. make copies for everyone

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:05AM
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Or make a photocopy of one side, then put it together with the other side and scan the whole thing together.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 11:02AM
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You can buy design software that will let you place the images exactly where you want them. Change the size, etc. And let you specify the paper size, too.

Scan, and print on both sides of the card.

Or scan both sides, and position both sides on a single piece of paper, then print out.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 2:35PM
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Tizzylizz-- can I have a copy when you finish it? Please! Please! LOL I love old handwritten recipes!! I love all the things that are not called what we call them, like oleo for margarine or a #2 can of something, etc.

Just remember when you do it to use good quality paper. I would recommend at least 24# paper too... even if it is going to be in an album of some sort.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:00PM
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and document protectors, if they cook like I do!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 7:27AM
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Wow! I am going through something similar! I volunteered to go through my MIL's recipes and type them so they would be in a nice single bound album.

The trouble with recipes (my own included) is that we tear them out of magazines, newspapers or have different sized handwritten cards.

My MIL is close to death now and I can't really ask her WHICH recipe she used when there were duplicate or triplicate of a certain cake or banana bread.

For me scanning is out. Some of the original handwritten recipes are barely legible on paper that is disintigrating. But they are fascinating to look at!

Crazykwilter, I don't know if your granny did the same thing, but my MIL neglected to put the title on many of her handwritten recipes! So I just have to guess what they are!

I am doing this with her 2 daughters blessings. She also has 6 sons but being guys they aren't real interested unless it is to taste test something. My MIL was a fantastic cook. I only wish I could have started this earlier when I could have had her expert guidance.

Right now I have almost her entire collection spread out on my bedroom floor in catagories. My husband was surprised to see that his mother used newspaper and magazine recipes! I told him she wasn't THAT old! (83). I told him most women DO have newspaper and magazine recipes. And now I have the internet too. But it would be nice to have them re-typed, uniform size and re-printable in case of spills. It's all a labor of love. Good luck, crazykwilter, with yours!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 5:19PM
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I have my mother's recipe card collection. It's funny but the only recipe that I have fond memories of is not in there. There are some recipes that are "family" recipes that the siblings have all used through the years. But except for some baked goods, there aren't many I'd want to cook. Unfortunately, my mother wasn't the best cook. But this is one box I'll hang onto forever.

I do have a small notebook that my mother wrote the prices of groceries she purchased back in the 1930's. It's amazing how times have changed.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 8:13PM
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It looks like using a software program might be the way to go, since I want an image of the orginal recipe. It also sounds like a job for my son, since I'm not great at figuring out software programs (or at least he can walk me thru it :).

iasheff, I know what you mean by looking at old recipes, they are neat to read how they where written back 'in the day'.

nessie, grandma had 100's of newspaper/magizine/clippings from back of boxes recipes...I only saved the recipes we remember---pre-internet way of getting new recipes---I get all my recipes in the last 10+ years from the internet (well, 99% anyways). It's fun to see the vintage drawings & favorite was a booklet she had saved that taught the housewife how to cook a whole meal from a can--gourmet style. It was hillarious!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 8:15AM
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I DID this recently with my grandmothers' recipe boxes. My sister has the originals. I photocopied each recipe card (they both used 4 x 6's) onto acid free paper, front and back. I then cut blank 4x6 cards from acid-free paper, and trimmed the copies down to fit on the cards. I used archival glue (from the scrapbooking section of the store) to attach to the new cards.

I store them in a vintage recipe box I found at an estate sale. The stains and smudges are all there (at least copies of them), and I was able to keep the handwriting samples of both of my grandmothers when I make the recipes. The funniest thing was finding out that her yummy pecan pie was the one from the label of an old Karo syrup bottle--and yes, I xeroxed the well-worn label and included it in the collection. I like using hand-written recipe cards. I find that having recipes on a computer does me no good, and I just waste paper by printing them every time I need them, and they are personality-less. Someday I will be able to hand down my grandmothers' recipes along with mine that I've transcribed onto cards to my daughter.

You certainly could scan into a computer and adjust size, etc, but that just seems like an extra step, when copy machines are widely available and cheap. Copy shops will let you put your own paper into the machines.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 1:11PM
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I've come to realize that the reason most of the saved recipes are for baking is because she knew how to cook her main entries "out of her head." How many of us need a recipe to know how to make a pot roast, for instance?

We have been gathering at my in-laws house during her illness. One of the aunties told me she had her recipe for the hot German Potato Salad that my hubby loves. She also has a few more that I have not found yet! So girls, if you're working on a project like mine take a hint and ask some of the close family members if they have mom or granny's special recipe!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 3:16PM
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