I love to cook. So does The Guy. We have gazillions (yes, that's a technical term) of cookbooks. We also have so many recipes that have been cut out of magazines, printed out and folded for years, or scribbled on the backs of grocery lists. He's had a pile of recipes on scraps of paper that have just floated inside a cookbook, sandwiched behind the front cover. It was a bit of a deathtrap, admittedly.
A while ago, I got fed up with that. Finding a particular recipe was rather difficult, and they kept falling everywhere. Enter The Great Recipe Organization Campaign of 2012. This started a few months ago, wherein I began corralling stray recipes in a box, and going through our stash of back-issues of Bon Appétit for ones worthy of cutting out. I was inspired by so many other projects like this out on the interwebs. I found a nice big binder for the finished product, and a bunch of page protectors.
Then all of that sat in the back room and was completely ignored.
Until this past Sunday morning, when I hauled it all out and spread it on the kitchen table, sorting into piles. The Guy pitched in, helping decide which ones to keep and what categories they should go in, and digging out his old family recipes from their hiding places for me.
I ended up with five categories: new stuff to try, savory, sweet, old family recipes, and concept pieces. I used write-on-able sticky tab thingies put right onto the sheet protectors to delineate the sections, but there are all kinds of tools for that sort of thing.
All except the 'to try' and 'concept' categories exclusively contained tried-and-true recipes that were known to be delicious and we'll definitely want to make again. Stuff from the 'to try' section will be moved to savory or sweet, as appropriate, once they're made and declared to be worthy. The 'concept' section is for ideas that were kept just as notions, but not necessarily as whole recipes as written. The idea of making a semi-frittata out of fettuccine is more important than the magazine's exact recipe for the tomato sauce to go with it. We're semi-accomplished cooks, and free-lance off of recipes anyway. Once tried, incorporated, and remembered, the 'concept' recipes will probably just be thrown away, but in the meantime they serve a useful purpose as a reminder of new ideas to try.
Others might have different categories, of course. Main courses, sides, breads, etc. But for our purposes, and because I didn't really feel like sorting through with that fine-toothed of a comb, I stuck with some pretty broad categories. It all depends on how you cook, what sorts of recipes you've got, and how finely you want to split hairs. Perhaps as the book expands it'll undergo a reorganization at some point. Who knows?
Here it is. I've taken to calling it The Book.
If a sheet protector didn't contain a full-page printout of a recipe, I stuffed in some blue paper I found in my craft stuff to serve as a backdrop. Then recipes were just layered on top of the backing paper in whatever configuration made sense. I found that they didn't even need to be glued down, which made the whole thing simpler as well as more modular. If they shift around too much over time, some gluing-down might happen, ultimately, but for now it seems to be holding just fine as is.
The beautiful thing about The Book is that not only do we no longer have to dig through stacks of papers to find a particular favorite recipe, but the sheet protectors mean that the things are largely water-resistant. This is good in a kitchen, as they'll be less prone to getting destroyed by water, blobs of cookie dough, and bacon grease. To be fair, many of the recipes in The Book already have spots and stains from just such treatment, and I didn't bother to retype them or anything. I think it lends character. But the water resistance will add to their longevity, especially for those multiple-decades-old papers for old family recipes.
By the way, we've already started using The Book. Thy Guy made a delicious pilaf for dinner last night, cooking out of the recipe I'd transcribed into the book. In case you're curious, it's originally from Alton Brown, the science nerd of food. So tasty.
And that's my weekend project. I love it, and it's nice to actually finish something for a change. Here's to many years of yummy cooking, expanded recipe collections, and good organization!