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My cookbook/recipe journey

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My recipes have been tucked in several places at various times. My first was a now grungy small recipe box, it is plastic and no longer closes, and is impossible to get sparkling clean after more then 45 years of service. My family recipes were all hand written on the sly, since my mother didn’t like to share recipes. It was kind of my newly wed recipe box, although I was definitely an experienced cook by then.

After the box came the Rolodex, I typed all the recipes out on Rolodex cards, many needing two cards. It was organized, before internet recipe browsing, but cumbersome and hard to keep clean, plus recipes back then got torn out of my old magazines and rarely typed out. I don’t have pictures of the old Rolodex but it was an ugly tarnish brown. Here is a picture of one like it except it is a better color, they are now called Vintage Rolodex.

This is the pile of the recipe cards taken out of the rusting Rolodex

After Rolodex came the computer, when I went back to school for my Masters at UMO, we needed a PC for all my classes, even the ones that made us work on the mainframe. I bought my first computer from UM, it was a IBM, with two floppy drives, you know the kind that were 5 1/4”, and a hard drive with a whooping big 10 MBs of space. Yup 10 megabytes, there are tiny little flash drives with 1000’s more storage space then that now. I was working in Millinocket Regional Hospital Laboratory at that time as Microbiology Supervisor. That job entailed being on several committees, ugh, and one of the Doctors was into computers. He paid for a course in dBase III, for both of us, that was located in Bangor for 3 days, we traveled each day for a hour one way, then 10 hours of class and back home, he also gave me a dBase III program. One of the cool things about dBase III is that you could program in dBase, make entry forms, printing parameters, and outward appearances just like ant other program. I made a recipe program, you could typ in your recipe, search and print or browse indexes, even according to ingredients. The drawback is over the years dBase was a DOS based program, and computers became windows based. dBase would only print on a dot matrix printer, printers became ink jets, and the newer dBase program was over $500. My program was on a 3” disk, not transferrable to a CD without corrupting the dBase files. Even with multiple backups it finally failed to keep abreast with technology. So I lost all the files, many were printed out, and most were in the either the recipe box or the Rolodex.

So enter yet another new age, the internet, and tons of recipes at the click of the print button, the scary part of that is that a great majority of recipes have never been tested. I try to stick to sites that actually test recipes before publishing them after several disasters. Epicurus is a favorite along with King Arthur, who will talk to you about any problems you might be having with one of their recipes. The problem with all this is I do print out recipes, tons of them, many do not cut the mustard, but instead of tossing them there is a big pile of papers in the kitchen that need going through.

I started a binder, to combat the pile of recipes everywhere , just a regular black 1 1/2” binder with page protectors, unhappily most of the recipes are just thrown in there loose and takes forever to find anything. So my latest attempt to organize my loose recipes is much more serious, I have had to call my Dad several times to get the family Christmas sugar cookie recipe, or the waffle recipe. My pile of papers binder lol

So first and foremost was to decide on new bigger binder, there are lots of them out there any thing from leather to leatherette, embossed names, or just one that you can stuff a printed page in the front. I chose one I fell in love with, it is red leather, included dividers, some page protectors, nice printed helpful info like most cookbooks on front and back inside covers. In retrospect I think I should have searched further, the dividers are larger then usual and black, plus many are not selections I would use, and there are only 12. The company does not offer extra dividers, I asked. I did come across another company that has slightly more reasonable binders with many more selections, they are however just binders, so still looking for dividers. The final clincher is that I think I will need at least 3 binders to contain just my favorites.

Just a brief note on cookbooks, I have collected cookbooks for years and years. When we used to go places I always bought a cookbook so many of them are a reminder of a trip to Florida or California, the place and date are written in the inside flap. The trouble is that I use my cookbooks all the time, but they fill a 6 ‘ bookcase and have overflowed onto the window seat and a pile next to the bookcase, probably they would fill another bookcase.
At some time I would like to add some of the recipes from the cookbooks to my binder, some books have only one or two truly great recipe that pulls me back to the cookbook time and time again.

So we have traveled over about 55 or more years of cooking, my next step was a recipe template. It is my pet peeve that computers no longer come with the word program, I have tried substitutes, but they are just not as powerful. I spent hours trying to get open office to edit templates, but they have not been supported for about 4-5 years now so it is vastly outdated. I bought Office 2007 to do things on the farm, but it is an update not the complete program, and works is not even on computers anymore. After a lot of thought and research I decided to get publisher 2016, the last one made before the whole subscription money grab Microsoft thought up. I found a place to get it at a reasonable price, and decided to get Office home and student 2016 also so I could do a bunch of things farm related on the computer. Supposedly you will get your registration number in 10 minutes and be able to download the program, I got an email that verification was not working, whatever that means, so I called them, they were out of publisher, but they could update me to Office professional plus for the same price, that was a really good deal, and refund my money for publisher.

With publisher I started to make a recipe template, there have been many revisions, but I finally like the results. There is even a place for photos if I want. I typed up a recipe for Chocolate Tweed Layer Cake to see how it looked and I am pleased. Now I am working on typing recipes a few at a time to both save on the computer and print out to enter in the book.

You might find this funny, but I finally figured out a list of sections for my cookbook, and it comes to 27 different categories. So I do think it will be 3 binders lol. To combat the lack of dividers I figure since I will need 3 binders I will just relabel the dividers from the 3 binders and have plenty!

So have any of you made family cookbooks?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I figure this is one tiny spot where I can begin to be organized again, somewhere along the way I stopped being so organized, not sure when it happened. But even my cook books are in disarray. I have been steadily typing recipes in the computer, managed a few tweaks to my template for longer recipes like the family Christmas Sweet Bread recipe that I first typed in on 4 different templates, the recipe makes 4 different breads with the same recipe. I thought about it for several days then attacked the template, which was really easy, just increased the ingredient list and the directions. It is 3 pages but all together instead of different places. Once I clean up all those printed recipes, cards, and hand written pieces of paper I will start to go through cookbooks, many will stay, but some may not. Often there are only one ot two recipes I use, but others get used all the time.
    5 days ago
    I have to get mine together one day. I have been getting rid of the books I didn't like or didn't use.
    emoticon emoticon
    I wish I was more organized.
    6 days ago
  • ALBERTA119
    When I try something new I tell my husband that’s a scientific experiment. That way if it fails we laugh.
    7 days ago
  • ALBERTA119
    I love my hand written recipe cards my mother, sister, cousins and girlfriends had given me. They’re all in a box that I had made for junior high. I also handmade little tabs. My sister has the best collection she’s got our moms old Betty Crocker.
    7 days ago
    This was such an interesting blog. I had a wonderful collection of recipes a couple of us at a previous workplace put together on an old DOS program. I lost mine though when the old computer crashed and I no longer had the ability to read the DOS floppy I had saved mine on. I had written out my favorites though on recipe cards, which I have 3 boxes to hold them. So many of my old recipes are not healthy, so I have stopped making them, but can't bring myself to throw them out. I have shelves of cookbooks too and love my collection. I do not cook like I used to, and have thought I need to downsize some of those cookbooks. But it will be like parting with old friends.
    8 days ago
    This took a while to set up, but now that I have everything in place, I can type a recipe here and there. The template, after many revisions is finished, I set up a list of tabs I want in word, they are all in the size and script I like and set up on an Avery template so when I want they will be printed on Avery labels. And to save time later I have a running list of recipes typed also in word, because word has powerful table of contents and indexing helps. It will automatically alphabetize a list, or create indexes on key words. One of the things I struggled with is the different length of recipes. My family Christmas sweet breads recipe that makes 4 different things from the same dough, was a challenge. I solved it by making each a recipe page, with notes indicating you can make any of them with the dough, and all done with copy and paste so only one typing. For now I am just saving them on the computer. So progress is being made, I often type one or two recipes after dinner, before bed, it is relaxing.
    22 days ago
  • PURPLE0906
    I have an index box, binder and a page on Facebook with recipes. I really should get them all together in one place but it does take time and seems there are other things that need to come first.

    23 days ago
    emoticon wow, what a great story about your cookbooks. I have the two cookbooks my mother saved recipes in plus her original Betty Crocker cookbook.
    30 days ago
    I collect cookbooks and recipes all the time! I have newspaper clippings and magazine cutouts along with my bookcases full of books. I know in my future I have the big job that you are doing know and I look forward to weeding through and finding some I "forgot" about in some piles.
    30 days ago
    I don't like that there is no Word Program too. I have tried different methods for saving recipes and I have collected cookbooks for years. Now I am trying to pare down but I haven't decided on what method works best for me. (I think I have Living Cookbook too.)
    30 days ago
    You must be a great cook. As I told my DIL who wanted to shadow me in the kitchen, "If you can read, you can cook." Must've inspired her, because she's a great cook now.
    30 days ago
    You are such a good writer as well as you many other talents. What a walk with tech you have had and continue. Thanks for a great posting.
    30 days ago
    I have tons of cook books, recipe books, magazine and newspaper recipe clippings, and more. I wanted to categorize and index all of my books because not all of them have indexes or table of contents. But that project has gone by the wayside, and perhaps now I've decided that I will scan the recipes that my family enjoys eating. With the internet available, I've started my scan project. Who knows how long that will take, but I can't resist a good recipe book!
    30 days ago
    I haven't made one but I started to.

    Maybe I'll work on it again.
    31 days ago
    I forgot about the recipe program I have kicking around somewhere Christine, it is called the living cookbook, the biggest problem is that it comes with 5000 recipes you can’t get rid of without a lot of effort. Typing in recipes is very cumbersome, it is made for you to download recipes, not type them in, so you can’t just start typing, you have to fill in fields which takes twice as long. I couldn’t find a good alternative, didn’t want one to add to an online recipe database as some of them do, this is a family cookbook not something for the world to use. I thought I had a good alternative with the living cookbook, but it just didn’t work out.
    I just discovered that living cookbook is no longer a company and there is no support, most people’s living cookbook no longer opens for them. The designer went to Cook’n, but that program is now a subscription at a whopping 14.95 a month, after you buy the program, so they are losing customers fast.
    31 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/18/2019 4:24:05 PM
    31 days ago
    Wow! And I thought I had a lot of recipes! Wishing you luck w/getting it all organized.

    HUGS and thanks for sharing.
    31 days ago
    Wow, that is pretty dang fancy! I just have regular 3 hole binders and those cheap dividers. And a shoe box full of my really old ones on recipe cards with homemade dividers. At one time I had a program just for recipes and I only have those printed out.

    Oh, I used to use dBase before I went to Microsoft Access. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    31 days ago
    I should as I have the same mess you had before the Rolex. Mine are all over, and one of the kids will call and want a recipe, and I have to tell them I will get back to them after I go thru all the cookbooks and papers to find the one they want. Organize Chaos, I call it. lol
    31 days ago
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