Friday, January 6, 2012


When I was a kid, I always loved books. True today as well. :-P I love notebooks covered in leather, beads or fabric, old hardcover novels and well loved paperbacks. I love books of all shapes and sizes and uses. I particularly love the cute little quad-graph Moleskine notebooks that I try to keep in my bag at all times. But when I was little, one of my favorite books to look through was my mom's recipe journal. It was a lined notebook, covered and padded with blue flower fabric. It was also covered in doodles, full of odd bits of wisdom, and smelled of old oil from living in the kitchen and being covered in food messes over and over again. It also had a yellow frontpiece of such a sunny color and great contrast with the cover.

When I was probably 8 or so, my mother filled up that notebook, and bought another. I STILL don't like the new one as much. It's hunter green, with a leaf-like pattern and pale leaf-like patterned frontpiece. It is slowly filling up with just as much lore and delicious recipes, but it is still not the original.

When I was 13, I started regularly making messes in the kitchen of a determined nature. I decided that I had THE recipe for cinnamon buns. (FYI -- I didn't) I also decided that I was a fabulous baker. I followed these decisions up with the fact that I needed a recipe book. I was sorely disappointed when my mother merely searched the house for a notebook that had been previously bought rather than take me out to the bookstore to pick out a pretty one. I was even more disappointed in the fact that MY notebook was a mere 1/2" wide, whereas my mother's were close to an 1". ... all in all, way too much disappointment for a little notebook, I can say upon reflection. :-P

But I put an index in the back, wrote the date I started it in the front and started filling it with recipes. I copied out the recipes that I liked from my mother's books, and a handful from Fannie Farmer. I learned the valuable lesson of not putting recipes in the book that had not previously been tested -- I now have wasted real estate on the most horrific butter cookies I have ever had the misfortune of tasting. As time went on, I filled my little notebook -- it is listed as officially finished November 6, 2008. At last the time was at hand to go out and buy a pretty one!

Yet as is apparently the theme of these notebooks, there was not one of the appropriate size and shape! My first notebook, which was perfect except for not having enough pages, is 1/2" taller and 1" wider than my second notebook, although it has the appropriate amount of pages and is 1" thick. They are fairly complimentary in color scheme, being both blue designs on white. But here the story had paused. Not long after I bought this second notebook, I began a blog. And so even though I was experimenting with many recipes and cooking much more than usual, I was no longer writing them down. I also felt that it was not worth writing down recipes that were so easily printable and readily accessible.

However, after Christmas I needed a break from stuff. And I had had my recipe books down to add in my grandmother's 60 Minute Rolls recipe. And I realized that I wanted my recipes in there. So I took on the task of going through my archives and finding recipes. The number of times I have to scour my archives to find a recipe? Several times a week. Now it'll be much easier. Also, with adding in all of those recipes, I relearned several techniques that I had used and forgotten. Sometimes, I'm far cleverer than I remember! So after my archive digging, my second recipe book went from 12 recipes to 53. I also included things like the timetable for roasting chicken, and instructions for trussing a chicken -- the two things I look up the most!

There's something very comforting in the weight of these two recipe tomes -- and I do prefer handwriting to print. I hope my own kids enjoy recipe books as much as I do -- for they'll have a lot to inherit!

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the loveliest pieces of writing I've read. I love notebooks too, but ever since the blog -- and goodness, it's been three years! -- notebooks have sort of become superfluous, unless there are specific seasonings or recipes that are new to me.

    Write more things like this!