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When I was younger and first fending for myself, my sister gave me a hand-written recipe book. It was filled with funny little anecdotes and notes – like not being able to make Mum’s spaghetti no matter how hard she tried, or ‘supposed to be milk but if you run out water is ok’. As I look back through it her familiar handwriting and the meals she was cooking at the time reminds me how much I looked up to my big sister. I treasure it still and I often resource it for the old family favourites we grew up on. A testament to this – the beef stroganoff and curry pages are splattered and smeared almost beyond recognition.

I filled the rest of the blank pages with my own recipes which tell their own story. They are very ambitious and I don’t believe I have cooked a single one of them. But I was young and had dreams of entertaining friends with my culinary skill. In my mind I would be whipping out a perfectly browned rack of lamb with herb and couscous crust, followed by a proud standing parfait of some description. The parfait featured heavily in the desert section – I must have thought they were a bit snazzy!

Nowadays when I run out of ideas I hit Taste.com, or Google for inspiration. I’m not discrediting this as an option. I have found some great recipes from sites like these – in fact almost our entire Christmas lunch last year was created from Taste.com. The problem I find is that I end up shoving the printout into a cupboard somewhere and never looking at it again. Worse still, is when they turn out nothing like what was promised!

I wanted to get together a collection of tried and true recipes. I found a blank recipe book and inscribed a small message in the front – asking people to tell me where the recipe came from, or comment on when and why they like to cook it – something to give it the personal touch. I gave it to a friend at work with the instruction to pass it on.

At first I felt a little funny asking people, but it seems they want to share their favourite meals. Everybody that saw it commented that it was a great idea, or that they wanted one too.

I am looking forward to having a whole new lot of meals to try and preserving a bit of history from my work family. As I see it fill up gradually each day, I know this too will become a treasure in the kitchen, unlike the infinite print outs that have been lost along the way.

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