When I was retrieving the recipe card for the banana cake I made yesterday and wrote about in my blog, I started thinking of a better way to store my recipe collection.
Many years ago when I started cooking, I had a plan to write out the recipes for everything I had made onto “System Cards” (4 x 6 inches) and file in a recipe box. I made cards for Biscuits, Main Course, Desserts, Soup and so on. This was a great plan but I didn’t make much progress.
Things start to get messy when I cut out recipes from magazines or newspapers or picked up recipe leaflets from the greengrocer or butcher. What about photopied recipes or all the great recipes in my cookbook collection? Half of the pleasure of cooking is browsing the cookbook and looking at the pictures!
I have a plan to make an archive of my favourite recipes.
1. Scan each card or recipe either to a picture or use OCR to create text files.
2. Create a text file (using org-mode – my favourite text file outlining sytem) with an entry for each recipe along with keywords to describe the cuisine and type of dish. I think it would be sensible to use tags, so an Indian dessert would have the tags Indian and Dessert. This is where a digital collection is superior to cards.
3. Browse my favourite cookbooks and scan the recipes along with the book name and page number for cross-reference.
4. All the recipes which haven’t been tried out are placed in a folder “Recipes to Try”. Once they are tested they are scanned for using later or thrown out if I didn’t like it.
5. Publish the recipes on a web site as well as blogging my favourite recipes (with photos). I think recipes should have a social life and be shared with the world. Of course I will respect copyright and acknowledge sources.
6. Print the recipes in a format suitable for compact storage and reference in the kitchen.
7. Create a PDF file (or just access the web site on the computer or Android phone) for browsing away from the kitchen.
I remember then personal computers first became available. Someone suggested that a PC would be useful in the kitchen as a reference tool. Rather unlikely in my opinion! Imagine spilling butter and flour on the keyboard. My recipe books get stained and damaged but that doesn’t matter.
How do you file your cookbooks and recipes?