One of the lovely things about our recent 6-month stint in Canada was spending a lot of time with family and getting to know them all over again. We stayed right next door to my in-laws so the "pop in" was a daily occurrence and we all loved it. My teenage niece spent quite a lot of time with us (my daughter very quickly became her shadow) and she was often around at dinner time or while I was cooking. She began to ask me for recipes and was showing a real interest in learning how to cook. I was secretly ecstatic that someone liked my food and wanted my recipes!
When Christmas rolled around I knew exactly what I was going to buy her - a recipe box or file so that she could begin her own recipe collection and at the same time encourage her to experiment with cooking and trying new recipes. When we first arrived in Canada I saw at least three gorgeous little boxes and files specifically for recipes. I remember thinking, "I'm definitely going to grab a couple of these for take-home gifts", but I didn't right then and there because I was going to be around for six months so there was no hurry. Of course, by the time I actually wanted to buy one of them you know what happened, don't you? There were none. I went to Chapters, to Walmart, to Michaels and to Target - but, no, there were none to be found. I had my heart set on a recipe file. I wanted to give her something meaningful and something that thought had gone into - plus she had asked me for recipes and I didn't want to just jot them down on a bit of paper. You know where I'm going with this, right? There wasn't a whole bunch of time - I think it was about a week before Christmas - but I decided I would make one for her. And so I set to it. (I will apologise in advance for the quality of my photos - it was dark, it was late and my camera just wasn't loving me. She doesn't take well to being rushed.)
I grabbed a lovely, bright blue Martha Stewart A5 file, some A5 file dividers, A5 plastic sleeves, a Martha Stewart book-plate pack and designed 5 different cards for her. I went with categories of Meat, Pasta, Vegetarian, Dessert and Treats (because she loves her treats!) - keeping it very simple and choosing categories based around what she would probably cook the most.
In spite of the rush, it turned out better than I expected and was a pleasure to put together. I bought a few little bits to go with it - measuring cups, wooden spoon etc - and packaged it up with a silver ribbon.
It was a hit with my niece. She asked me to print out more cards before we left and has since asked for my lasagna recipe. Bless her - she knows how to make this Aunty feel good! And when she comes to visit in a few years I'll be expecting her to cook for me ... which was secretly the plan all along!
If you'd like to make up your own file or box, feel free to download my cards and corresponding divider labels.