Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#DIY Cookbooks: Recipe Binders for Favorite Recipes

Pasta, dessert, soups, seafood. Did I say dessert? I really enjoy cooking – the more ingredients and chopping and mixing the better.  And what goes along with this love of cooking? Cookbooks, magazines, and torn out from anywhere recipes. Over the years of collecting such things, I looked up one day to realize that recipes have taken over a kitchen cabinet, the counter, the desk.

The situation: I have years (okay, over a decade; I’m sharing, don’t judge) of Cooking Light magazines, travel souvenir cookbooks, specific food cookbooks, organizational fundraising cookbooks, those promotional pamphlet-ish cookbooks.

The problem: With too many recipes, I never get around to all of them, or even a majority of them, because there’s no easy way to catalog them.

  • I’ve tossed the promotional pamphlet-ish cookbooks from food brands and specialty kitchen stores.  Just because.
  • I’ve tossed or put in the donation pile the fundraising cookbooks.  I guess there was a fad at some point in which organizations had all of their members and supporters write their favorite recipe and compiled them all into a book to raise money for their programs.  Nice idea, nice fundraising option, but I really don’t need more recipes for tuna casseroles and doctored up box cake recipes.
  • I’ve kept the cookbooks that I’ve purchase when traveling because, in addition to yarn, those are my kind of travel souvenirs.  Commander's Kitchen and Emeril's from New Orleans, a waffle cookbook in Dutch from Belgium, Korean cookbooks from a bookstore and coffee shop in Seoul.
  • I’ve also kept my other “real” cookbooks, i.e. published and bound cookbooks.  This includes Maya Angelou's cookbook, one all about shrimp & grits, and few from various Junior League chapters (a southern one has the best Kahlua recipe in it.)  The ones I just didn’t like anymore for whatever reason I put in the donation pile.

What about that decade’s worth of Cooking Light? Its online, they have a website, I can search for any recipe I want. I probably threw out the whole lot, right? Nope.  I went through the magazines and pulled out the recipes I’ve either tried at some point or really anticipate making in the near future.  And I realized something while going through about 100 magazines: there are a lot of repeats and variations of the repeats. I guess that’s not too surprising – how many ways can you really make baked chicken, baked tilapia, or pasta, shrimp, and lemon?  So I didn’t keep every version of chicken alfredo or baked broccoli casserole.  Or the annual update on making the perfect tomato sauce (hint, starting with canned tomatoes are acceptable.)

I slipped all those torn out recipes into plastic sleeves and ordered them in a couple 3-ring binders.  The plastic sleeves are important so that the pages don’t get torn as I flip through or messed up when I cook.  The cover is simple - printout of a fun food reminder and scrapbook paper.
Use plastic sheet protectors and a 3-ring binder to collect favorite recipes.
One binder is divided like a regular cookbook – meats, side dishes, breads, breakfast, etc.  One binder is all desserts which I'll divide into cookies, cakes, pies, frozen sweets, and other stuff.

Collect reminders, lists, and recipes in one binder for the holidays.
I also have a holiday book which includes recipes that I only make during the holidays (cranberry sauce, sweet potato pies, etc.), as well as other holiday to-do reminders, and Christmas card lists.  The cover art? A pre-school art project made by one of my kids (another great way to preserve and use those art projects.) 

How’s it working? I’ve already used a newly re-discovered recipe to make biscotti for my recent cookie exchange.

Now, if I could only find a simpler way to wash and put away all those dishes.

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