Friday, July 31, 2009

Generations draw together through family-published cookbooks

(ARA) – In 1913, a young Polish couple crossed the ocean aboard a ship and arrived in America in search of a better life. Since that time, four generations of Lyczak, Pilck and Grywalsky offspring have grown and thrived in the United States, and although many miles separate the family members today, they still make an effort to remain close. One such effort is evident in their recently published family cookbook called "Flavors of the Generations."

Sandy Broom is one of the "baby boomers" from the family. She initiated the cookbook and coordinated the project with G&R Publishing in Waverly, Iowa. Broom hopes it will preserve a piece of her family's history in a permanent way.

"All the cousins in my generation of our family developed a special bond as we grew up together and heard the family stories," she says. "We want our children and grandchildren to share those bonds too."

Across the melting pot of America, families are self-publishing cookbooks that celebrate their family’s unique culinary heritage. Generations come together to contribute recipes for favorite dishes rich in tradition, sentiment and cultural significance.

For this family, like many others, holidays and family gatherings have often centered around meals and traditional ethnic foods. As the generations spent time together, crowded around a huge table at grandma's house, the older members told stories and shared important family traditions. Laughter and a warm sense of belonging mingled with the delicious aromas of home cooking wafting from the kitchen.

Flipping through the pages of the family cookbook offers a touching glimpse into that kitchen and brings back fond memories for the whole family.

"Some of the traditional Polish foods were only prepared and eaten at Christmas or Easter and they were truly comfort foods," Broom says. The cookbook preserves in print these old traditional recipes that had been handed down verbally from mother to daughter through the years, such as Christmas Eve Hubi Soup and Paska (Easter bread).

But the cookbook also includes modern, easy-to-use recipes for today's busy families. Family members shared all their favorite recipes so the dishes in the book truly span the generations and keep up with today's changing lifestyles.

With the help of G&R Publishing, the book is also a historical scrapbook. At the front of the book, Broom included a family tree covering eight generations and important highlights of the family's history, written in story form.

"We dedicated the cookbook to the memory of our matriarch, Apolonia Lyczak Pilck Grywalsky and all of the other relatives who helped create our family traditions," she says. The back pages feature memorials with photos to pay tribute to loved ones who were the backbone of the family through the years. Broom hopes these extra features will help the younger children and grandchildren learn about and hold onto their family roots.

The group considered compiling the family history and recipes in a simple pamphlet to share at their triennial family reunion, but they decided a professional cookbook would be a more lasting and meaningful tribute to their heritage. Broom sees the book as a practical keepsake that will be used regularly for everyday meal preparation. Each time family members look at the photos or create each other's favorite dishes in their own kitchens, their sense of family connections is reinforced.

G&R Publishing has helped customers create custom cookbooks for families, churches, schools, nonprofit groups, businesses and fundraisers for 35 years. "I had checked out other companies," says Broom, "but G&R was the most affordable and they were the only ones willing to put together the book we really wanted. They were so helpful and willing to make it work for our family."

Broom says that the cookbooks will be circulated at their upcoming family reunion and she's sure they'll be a big hit. The proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to cover the costs of this reunion and future ones, ensuring that family bonds can continue to grow strong. Besides using the book for everyday cooking, she envisions youngsters even using it as a resource for school projects on their family history.

"I am confident that ‘Flavors of the Generations’ will help preserve our humble beginnings and keep our family connected as we reminisce and cook together across the miles," she says.

For more information on custom cookbooks for families, visit, or call (800) 383-1679.

Polish Meatballs
(Submitted by Janet Prymas for the "Flavors of the Generations" cookbook)

11/2 pounds ground beef
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 medium can or jar sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

Combine all ingredients, except caraway seeds and sauerkraut. Form small balls and brown in light oil. Reduce heat, cover with sauerkraut and caraway seeds. Cook slowly for one hour.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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