February 27, 2014

Cooking up a Recipe Organizer

As much as chaos often contributes to my creative process, eventually it has to give way to a little order at some point. 

Years ago, when I lived in the UK, I didn't really know how to cook. I hadn't amassed the cookbooks I have now, and the Internet certainly wasn't as readily accessible, especially at home. Instead, I had a few recipes scribbled in journals and on index cards given to me by friends and family. I also took to checking cookbooks out of the library and then handwriting the recipes I wanted to try out.  

I had a little journal that I used to keep track of which recipes I tried. My rule was that the recipe couldn't go into the cooking journal until I actually made it (and of course it had to be successful...) The problem was, I had way more recipes I wanted to try than the ones I'd actually made, and nowhere to put them.
Some things never change -- even across an ocean. For a long time (too long) I've collected a stack of recipes in a pile, thinking I'd eventually do something with them. Eventually finally happened. Around Christmas time, when I couldn't find the recipes for the cookies I wanted to bake, I knew I had to sort these things out, pronto

Last week, I finally got so fed up with the pile of recipes, that I commandeered the kitchen table and threw everything on top of there to sort out the paper mess. 

I found a few neat blank books at a craft show in Pennsylvania before we moved, from ReNewed Intent. They had all kinds of re-purposed blank books -- I picked out two that were recreated from old cookbooks. You can shop ReNewed Intent right here on Etsy. 

All I did was sort out the recipes according to category. Once that was done, the rest simply fell into place. 

I used the larger book for everything from beverages to side dishes to main courses. The smaller book holds general how-to cooking info and homemade condiments recipes. I simply pasted the recipes onto the pages. All you need is a glue stick, really.

For the recipes that were too big to glue onto the paper, I created little folders at the start of each 'chapter' to simply shove in the folded full-page recipes. I even made little tabs for each chapter.

I found another blank book to use for my pile of scrumptious dessert recipes. I found this one on clearance at Michael's -- I'm still not sure what brand it is; it's similar to a Smashbook, only it has a three-ring binder in it. I love the ready-made pockets at the front and back -- they're perfect for those little booklets I seem to collect out of magazines.

For a year I had a subscription to Food Network Magazine and I found that I would end up ripping out a few recipes and then recycling the magazine. Most of those recipes take up a few pages -- especially their 'mix and match' ones (which I love!) This blank spiral bound book was perfect. I simply punched holes and attached the full-sized recipes. 

Not to be left out, my trusty everyday bamboo recipe card holder still holds many of my favorite weekly recipes. But now I finally have a place to stash the recipes that either don't get used as often, are too big for the box, or ones I still want to try. 

I feel gloriously organized at the moment!

Now all I need to do is start cooking something from those recipes... 


  1. Love your new cookbooks. Want to come do mine? I have drawers full of recipes waiting to be acknowledged.

    1. Thank you! Do you know what? Not a day went by after I posted this, that I suddenly had another stack of recipes 'growing' on the counter. Just when I thought I had it under control. Good luck to you and your drawer full!