How do you document your adventures with food?
Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:25 AM
I'm eating a piece of pork belly that I cooked sous vide a few weeks ago and that has been sitting in its vacuum bag ever since. I can't remember what I cooked it with, which is a shame because it's delicious! I can pass restaurants I have eaten at with little recollection of what I had there or how much I enjoyed it... I can read a review of somewhere that sounds promising and then forget the name and where I read the review... I can flip through old cookbooks and see recipes that I meant to try but forgot about...
I have, on only a few occasions, made notes about recipes I've tried and developed over time. My chocolate cake recipe has evolved over ten years and I treasure the pages of scribbled notes that record it's development, under ten years of chocolate stains. I'm currently up to version 6 of a Modernist Dauphinoise Potatoes, and I'll post my results when I eventually find success. But these are isolated cases and I keep thinking I should do this more often.
What I would like to do is this: Firstly, keep a record of everything I cook (along with the recipe) and how successful it was. Secondly, keep a list of recipes I've come across that I would like to try- ideally in a form that I can categorise and search. Thirdly, keep a list of places I'd like to eat at and finally, keep a diary of exceptional meals I have eaten at restaurants or other events.
How do you do it? Old fashioned paper and pen? Digitally? Desktop or laptop computer? iPad? Alphabetical? Chronological? Something else?
This is shaping up to be my New Year's resolution, I just need a plan.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 03:11 AM
When I go out? It depends. I documented the trip to Sydney (14 restaurants in a week) extensively ... but perhaps partly because I'd spoken about my plans for the trip on eGullet in the months prior to heading up there and perhaps partly because I had company that was interested in documenting the experience. Oft-times, I wasn't the one at the table actually taking the photos.
When my partner and I--or friends and I--go out, someone is taking photos and it's very rare for it to be me. I'm happy to bring my DSLR but I'm also happy to hand it over to someone else more skilled/interested in photography. Me, I'm happy to enjoy the experience in the moment. I find looking at food photos a very different experience to being in a restaurant. I guess I look at photos--of fine dining fare, at least--in a very clinical way. Maybe because the food has been reduced to a visual thing, devoid of texture and aroma and the whole 'you're in a nice restaurant with your friends' atmosphere.
Then again, it could just be my attitude to photos in general. When I was a child my family rarely took photos. I hate being photographed--I'm socially awkward as is, diagnosally so and being photographed just seems to make it worse--and really sensisitve to bright, sudden lights such as camera flashes. When I have to take a photo for someone else, I find it painful and just want to get it over and done with as soon as possible.
I guess I don't photograph or document much of what I cook/eat because I have a decent memory for that sort of thing. If something is important to me--and often even when it's not--and it's the sort of information that can easily be sorted into categories, I tend to have computer-like recall.
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between
Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:00 AM
*Puts a date stamp on your meals and/or cooking explorations.
*You can make side menus so that posts are also "tagged" and can be found by clicking catergories such as "Breakfast dishes", "Eating Out - London", etc.
*They are searchable so you can find things you have posted about easily by any word in the post.
*If you make it public, you can connect with other food lovers and share tips, make friends, etc.
Currently I have a public blog which I haven't updated in ages, but I also have a private blog that only my family can see. This is useful as I am in India living away from my family and a blog lets me share photos and stories very easily.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:09 AM
As far as recording meals out, I don't like taking pictures while eating out. Instead, I always carry a small notebook that I keep around for when ideas pop in my head. I just keep it accessible during the meal if I feel like writing something down. When I peruse through it I often read an idea I had and remember where I was and what I was eating or doing.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:29 AM
1. A google calendar of what I cooked, with short notes
2. When possible, a Google Books link to the actual recipe
3. When that doesn't work, I usually scan the recipe or print the web page to PDF, so I can search for it later.
These are nice, since I can access all of them while cooking from my iPad sitting on a cookbook holder (one of the ones that hangs from under the counter)
For eating out, I do a combination of photography and blogging (my blog is here). Other people's comments here are worth noting, blogging well is a lot of work. You've got to take photos, often in places with terrible lighting, and do it without irritating other diners and the staff. You've got to actually remember or record the details of what it is you are eating. You've got to edit and upload photos. You've got to then write something up, insert the photos, and post it. And then maintain the whole thing. I always make sure that I remember that I'm doing it as a hobby and not a job, and occasionally that means that if I'm finding it's too much "work", I saw "screw it" and just enjoy my meal.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:01 AM
The notebook also works for my showpiece idea sketches. Sometimes I get an idea for just one component, like a base, and I like to keep those for work on possible future projects.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:05 AM
Posted 08 November 2011 - 01:39 PM
Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:24 PM
Firstly, keep a record of everything I cook (along with the recipe) and how successful it was. Secondly, keep a list of recipes I've come across that I would like to try- ideally in a form that I can categorise and search. Thirdly, keep a list of places I'd like to eat at and finally, keep a diary of exceptional meals I have eaten at restaurants or other events.
Like you, I like to keep a record of things that I've tried together with notes for each recipe. Generally, my system consists of finding recipes that I want to try in the various cookbooks that I own using Eat My Books. I flag these recipes with a "Do later" bookmark, or I create a new bookmark if I am going to make the recipe for a special event (for example, "15Nov11 Dinner with friends"). When I make the recipe, I update the bookmark from "Do later" to "Tried" and I make sure to enter an electronic note at that time with my observations. If the recipe belongs to a cookbook/topic that is discussed on eGullet, I also try to post my notes here if they are worth sharing, and I include the eGullet reference in Eat Your Books.
I've started doing this more than a year ago and it's great; now I have all of this information in one place.
For restaurants, typically I just enter notes on my blackberry with the date, and then I decide later if it's worth sharing on eGullet (I do have a large backlog!).
I've made a decision not to have a blog as this would be one more thing to maintain and I really don't have the time.
Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:59 PM
Edited by nickrey, 08 November 2011 - 10:00 PM.
Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"
"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog
Posted 11 November 2011 - 04:26 PM
I think that I'll continue to scribble recipe notes down on paper, simply because it's quick and easy and I know that I'll do it! At some stage I'll type them into a digital format- whether that's a blogging platform or something else.
I've been quite happy at the way camera phones have improved in quality, so I have no qualms about taking a photo of nice means in restaurants discretely, but I'm not the sort of person to go out to dinner with a DSLR kit under my arm.
And Chris - I love reading through your report from your epic Sydney trip and it's been my main inspiration to keep better notes of what I've eaten. If I had eaten 14 meals like that in one week, I'd struggle to remember the names of all the restaurants, let alone all the individual plates! Out of curiosity, if you re-read your own report now, how well do you recall each plated dish? Do you find yourself reminded of dishes you've forgotten about, or are you able to recall every course from every restaurant?