Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Cutting out Cookbook Clutter

I love to cook. I love experimenting with new recipes and new ingredients. And most of all, I love to peruse through cookbooks. They are always just chock-full of wonderful ideas and promises of delicious meals just waiting for me to attempt.

However, in my current home, I have a small kitchen. Like-I-live-on-a-boat sized kitchen, even though our home is firmly planted on the ground. It's just a narrow galley-style kitchen. The only space I have been able to make for my rather extensive cookbook collection is above the range in that awkward cabinet that you can't get to if you are cooking something and even if you aren't you need a step-stool? Yep, it's been a real pain.

But now that I am in the process of trying to decide what I REALLY need since I might need to separate myself from most of my possessions I have decided that it's time to part ways with almost all of my cookbooks. Of course, there are some that I can't get rid of - like the one that my daughter almost died over, and the Middle Eastern one my sister-in-law gave me that has names for ingredients in English and Arabic (that might come in handy one day soon). So, what's a girl to do? Certainly I can't just part with all of those yummy recipes?

I bought a big 5 subject notebook and in each of five sections, I'm making my own personal cookbook. I'm transferring recipes from every cookbook I have, from every Taste of Home or other cooking magazine that's been sitting in this tiny little cabinet. My sub-sections are Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Salads (I do a lot of salads!), Breakfast Foods and Desserts.

I'm having fun doing it even though Hubby would rather I just scan them all into the computer. This way, I'm creating something. It's going to take a while, but when I'm done, I'll have my own personal favorites all in one place and it will be something I can eventually hand down to my daughter.

For more ideas of how everyday people are improving their lives a little at a time, be sure to hop on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!


Lizzie said...

Hiya Lori :)

I've done something similar. You can see a bit about it at the bottom of my Home Management Binder post: (you may have to copy/paste that).

Nothing goes into that family cookbook without having first it with success, preferably more than once. I'm working on adding handwritten notes to each recipe along the lines of "this is our favourite Christmas dessert!" or "Nana used to make this recipe every Saturday afternoon" or "When Daddy first tasted these biscuits at so-and-so's party, he said they tasted just like the ones his grandma used to make" get the idea. The neat thing about typing up the recipes on the computer is that I have saved each document so that it will be very easy to duplicate for each of my three kids when they (eventually) leave home. It's worth popping in recipes for the REAL basics too, sort of like a 'Learn to Cook' section - how to boil an egg (LOL), what equipment you need, temperature conversion tables, how to cook a roast chicken dinner - you know, the kind of stuff you wouldn't normally need a recipe for. But throw them all in because it becomes an invaluable tool for other family members, namely spouse/grandparents, in case Mum is out of commission for a few days due to sickness. You could (as I'm trying to organize myself) even include a section consisting of, say, eight weeks of weekly menus and shopping list, lunch menus, foods that X child likes and dislikes - as elaborate as you like. Because it is a binder, and not a notebook, you can add and rearrange recipes and sections as needed. I unclip one sheet (in its sheet protector) and stick it to the fridge while I'm cooking, then snap it back in when I'm done. Easy!


Marcia said...

Wow, I love Lizzie's idea!

I was also going to say only keep the ones you LOVE. But that is a great idea - I think I'll do that with the recipes that are in a small format

Organising queen and
Marcia's take charge blog said...

Lori, I store my cookbook collection in the dining room. It's part of my decorating and I can use the table to spread out several cookbooks if I'm searching for different ways to make a dish or whatever research. Otherwise very easy to grab one book and take it to the easy chair or the kitchen.
Lizzie, I love what you do. That's a great tip. My aunt used to do something similar and make copies for her sisters. My mom has since given them to me and I still refer to them. She even included successful menus for parties and table settings with color of tablecloth, centerpieces, etc. Her organization is still paying off some 40 or probably more years later. It's now a treasured sentimental and useful heirloom for me.

ValleyGirl said...

I have a bit of a problem with that, too. My cupboard above the stove is jam-packed and I've got stashes of cookbooks all over the house. It's a disease, I tell ya!

Since buying a membership to Recipezaar, I haven't allowed myself to buy any more cookbooks, so at least I'm not adding to the collection like I once was -- although I still get a couple every year as birthday or Christmas gifts. I've entered over 100 of my own recipes on that site and added another 100+ from other members to my online cookbook, and what I've started doing is printing them out and organizing them into a binder. If I try a new recipe and we love it, it gets printed out and added to the binder. Once I'm caught up with all my old ones, Recipezaar and that binder are the only cookbooks I'll ever need or use. Hmmm, sounds like a good winter project!

TX Poppet said...

I had all my favorite recipes on computer. I backed it up with a disk. Computer died. Lost everything on hard drive. Technology changed. Disk was unusable with new CDs. If I had a hard copy I would not Miss My Marinated Mushrooms today. I now use a 3 ring binder. We live and learn.

lisa h. said...

great WFMW idea. I made a recipe blog for myself

but then I have to have my laptop in the kitchen, which takes up a lot of counter space.

there are some girls at our church who do a recipe group and scrapbook their recipes! they are super cute, that might be a fun idea if you're into that. it would be a nice gift for someone!


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