Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Personal Cookbook

One of the best gifts my mother has ever given me is a copy of her recipe book. She typed all the family favorites, printed them off, put them into a binder and presented it to me when I moved away from home. Even better, she gave me an electronic copy of the recipes too.

It's now been so many years since the gift that the original binder is long since trashed; I managed to break the back of it and had to replace it. I've also reprinted most of the pages after adapting them to fit my tastes; I like my food SPICY and my mom has a very tame palette. I even deleted a few of the recipes which I never liked (shhh, don't tell her.)

Even more than just modifying my mom's recipes, I've added to it. So much so that I split it up and now have two binders - one for savory dishes and one for sweet. Both binders live next to my microwave and there isn't a week that goes by that I don't refer to at least one of them.

New recipes that I find and like enough to make again get added to the appropriate binder. Sometimes it's a page torn from a magazine, sometimes it's a printout from the internet. Occasionally it's my scribbled notes from a conversation at work, or a TV show. Every so often I get really motivated and take all the odd sizes and pages and type them up and print it out again, but I'll usually save any pictures that I might have of the dish and add them to the printout. Page protectors make it super easy to just drop items in no matter their size.

I can't imagine not having my cookbooks; they keep me organized and make it simple to find that dish I loved. They make menu planning easy too; often I'll have planned out most of the week but end up looking for a particular type of entree to round out the week; dividers I've established make it simple to turn to the section featuring whatever it is I want (whether it's chicken or beef or beans or soup...)

To go along with the cookbook binders, I have a plastic tub that holds file folders. I used to use the tub in lieu of a file cabinet but eventually had to graduate to a real cabinet. Now I've got it filled with files of recipes I want to try. Yes, I said files. Again, I've got them divided by category and refer to it when menu planning.

I like trying new things (and usually aim for 2 - 3 new recipes a week) so I really do work through the files. They've got recipes I want to cook and bake as well, and there are plenty of days when I've gone looking through them for a new cookie recipe to try. It used to be that most of the recipes I found to try were from magazines, but nowadays I find more recipes from the internet - especially food blogs!

I find having the tub is helpful to keep me from getting completely out of control with recipes to try - I've got this much space to fit new ones, and no more. And it's easy to sort through and find interesting items when I'm planning my menu for the week.

See more Works-for-Me Wednesday tips at Rocks in My Dryer.


Kate said...

I love personalised cookbooks. My mom had the members of my family, my husband's family and our friends give her a copy of their favourite recipe and she and dad typed them out and put them in a binder. Lots of people included little stories about why the recipe was special or where they had gotten it from. It's a wonderful collection and reminds me of my friends and family when I cook their dishes.

I'm impressed by your tub - I must do something like that. I have spare recipes floating all over the place.

Renee said...

Thanks for visiting!

That does sound like a great collection from your mom. I forgot to mention that the one my mom gave me does have a few stories for some of the items - my favorites are even mentioned as being something that I love. There are no recipes from extended family however, and it would have been nice to have their recipes and stories included.

The tub is what I call it, but after googling it, a more common description is portable file box. Mine is similar to this one from Amazon and makes a big difference for me not having loose recipes everywhere.

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I'm really tempted to buy a second one, so I can subdivide my categories a little more and obviously, have more to try. I mean, doesn't it still make sense to have sweet & savory to correspond with the binders? (As I try to justify it to myself.)