"Beyond the age of information is the age of choices." Charles Eames. Hartman, Carla and Eames Demetrios. 100 Quotes by Charles Eames, p. 40.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: From the Family Kitchen by Gena Philibert-Ortega

Philibert-Ortega, Gena. From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes. Family Tree Books. 2012. 205p. ISBN 978-1-4403-1827-6. $13.44 (Kindle). $17.99 (hardcover).

Having attended a couple of Philibert-Ortega's presentations at local conferences in Southern California, I looked forward to adding her book to my personal library and eagerly ordered it pre-publication. Luckily, the book arrived in time to take on a cross-country flight that, thanks to From the Family Kitchen, ended up feeling like it lasted minutes instead of hours.

As the title promises, From the Family Kitchen provides family historians and genealogists a variety of tools and techniques to track down, collect, document, save and share family recipes. Definitely an ambitious project! Philibert-Ortega keeps it manageable by focusing (mostly) on family recipes and traditions developed in the U. S. Some methods to collect family recipes--such as interviewing relatives--may be familiar to researchers. Other methods, such as researching community cookbooks in local libraries and archives, may be new. She also explores how technology (e.g., refrigeration), wars, and changing economies affected our ancestors' diets.

Descriptions of ethnic food traditions and the history of cookbooks, definitions of old cooking terms/ingredients, as well as a short collection of historic recipes add valuable information for researchers and round out the book. About 25% of the book is devoted to blank pages for documenting your own family's recipes and traditions. While public librarians tend to avoid titles with fill-in-the-blank pages, this title deserves a huge exception. Libraries should buy the book anyway. It's that good!

The book is highly readable, usable, and comprehensive. Each chapter ends with a list of pertinent resources. Additional books and websites are listed in the bibliography. There's also an index. And, if that's not enough for you, the illustrations, design and layout are delightful.

From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes is available in hardcover from shopfamilytree.com, amazon.com, and bn.com. Kindle and Nook editions may be purchased from amazon.com and bn.com, respectively. Or, you may be able to find it at your local library since about 20+ libraries list it in Worldcat. You can learn more about Gena Philibert-Ortega at her website.


  1. Andrea, I just found your blog courtesy of GeneaBloggers, and was glad to land on the page where you reviewed Gena Philibert-Ortega's book. Looking forward to more posts and book recommendations here.

  2. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist: http://www.indepthgenealogist.com/

  3. Delighted to find your blog (through GeneaBloggers)! I'm tickled that you're writing reviews about books that relate to genealogy, and I'll be happily following along.

  4. Welcome to GeneaBloggers!

    What a great idea for a genealogy blog!

  5. One of the favorite parts of my cookbook collection is my stack of Church/Community cookbooks that were compliled by friends and family. I love the real home cooking found in these.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  6. Thanks so much for your kind review of my book. I appreciate it.--Gena