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How do you manage your recipes?


alejita
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I have a recipe problem. I subscribe to 5 cooking magazines, have dozens and dozens of cookbooks, boxes of clipplings...My latest attempt at chaos control was to use the computer to either scan or type or cut-and-paste recipe text into plain-ol' .txt files, store them in separate folders. All well and good while the number is relatively small, but it's not so easy to manage any more now that the recipe numbers are growing: can't find the one you want, you have several with the same name...

I tried a recipe management program, but it seems too inflexible and time consuming. Also, the recipe format was proprietary, and that's a no-no.

Do members want to contribute their personal solutions or frustrations on Recipe Management?

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Try a separate directory (folder) in your word processor. I use WordPerfect, and have a folder named WPRcps, which contains a lot or recipes (no I didn't count them :hmmm:). If that becomes too cluttered, there's always sub folders.

This also comes in very handy when dinner guests say "Oh, gee, that was so good. Could I have the recipe?" You bet'cha [marches back to computer, pulls up the recipe, hits Ctrl+P, and bingo!].

Edited by hwilson41 (log)

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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over the years, i've cut out recipes from magazines and newspapers....back when I was organized, I taped them into journal type books...but by now the tape has dried and they're all hanging out. I tried putting them in postcard/album type books, but again, that didn't last too long.

Now, most of my printouts and cutouts are stuffed into that same journal, no organization whatsoever. I also have a recipe folder on my HD, only alphabetized, never felt the need for sub folders.

I love the scanning idea...never thought of that. However, when comes to actually making a recipe that I have on my computer...I print it out. If I need to use a recipe that's scanned or copied/pasted off the internet, it'll be printed out. As i've said, the printouts are stuffed in the book with the old cutouts. If I scan the cutouts, I'll still need to printout the cutout (urp) when I want to make the recipe so this whole idea isn't saving any paper/space... :wacko:

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Due to the fact that I am basically a suburban Mom, I approach recipe collection as scrapbooking. I glue my recipes from printouts, scans from books I own, handwritten stuff, etc. to acid free paper using acid free glue. Scan if necessary to preserve the originals. I put them in acid free page protectors and organize them with index tabs by category in a three ring binder. So far it's worked really well and beats all the computer programs I tried. When a friend asks for a recipe, I pop it into the printer and scan. Or I have the URL printed out on the page so I can e-mail it directly from the site (I know both Food Network and Martha let you do this).

Good luck. It's a big task.

PS: After posting and reviewing this message, I realized I might be a tad bit more anal than most in terms of organization. But I would invest in a three ring binder and those page protectors and just start shoving stuff into them so you don't lose all your years of collection.

Edited by LindaJ (log)
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I'd hardly call what I do "management," but after years of having cooking mags piling up around the house, I decided I had to try the electronic route. I now fold down page corners that have recipes of interest as I read the magazine. I've been trying to then get on line every month to pull those recipes from the respective magazines' web sites, and then I can at least toss the issues. Of course, there are also at least a few folders' worth of pages that have been torn out over the years, but I agree--there's nothing like "Sure--I'll print/email it" when someone asks for a recipe!

I can't imagine taking the time to (literally) cut and paste, plus I love knowing that if I spill something on a recipe, I can just toss that copy and print it again another time. The other advantage to keeping them on the hard drive is that I can go in and make notes easily.

My two cents...

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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While I love browsing recipes in books, magazines and the internet, I only keep those that I actually deem a success.

For years now I have gathered my best recipes by menus (that I have actually made, corrected and improved), in ring binders with plastic folders inside. I also make a note of the numbers of guests I have had at each dinner/lunch party, and of other useful details such as occasional suppliers, table settings, colour schemes, etc.

While dishes go out of fashion (no one in my circle makes cookies anymore, or lasagna, or ratatouille, or meatballs, etc etc), it's nice to keep a record of past entertaining and family cooking, and a good source of reference.

Nowadays I feel cooking is more a matter of technique and the right combination of flavours than exact measurements.

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I've taken to removing from each magazine all the ads and articles and flagging the best recipes with post-it flags. All other clippings, egullet recipes are placed in plastic paper protectors and stored in 3-ring binders. But after 4 years this too is becoming unwieldy.

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My recipe organization efforts are still a work in progress, but here are the highlights:

I have a folder in my computer called "Recipes." In it are subfolders, with names like "Cookies" and "Poultry". I think it's important to create categories that make sense to you, whether anyone else would like or be able to follow your system, themselves.

Here's the important part: If you go to the Epicurious website, most of the recipes in Bon Appetit and Gourmet can be found after the issue is no longer current. Any of those recipes can be called up, highlighted (click and drag, in other words), and copied and pasted into a word processing file. I find it helpful to paste them "unformatted." In either Word or WordPerfect, go to Edit, then Paste Special, then choose Unformatted Text. That will paste plain text into your document, without a lot of formatting codes that can make it difficult to work with. Then save to the appropriate folder.

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot save magazines that are more than 2 years old. I just don't have room. Although I may start scanning the recipes from them, I usually just cut them out and glue them into a notebook. This is the part of my system that is very much a work in progress.

When I receive each magazine, I am trying to discipline myself to writing down in a "cooking notebook" all of the recipes I'd like to make from that issue. That could be one way to find them in the future. I've also considered photocopying the indexes of each magazine and compiling them into a notebook, complete with Post-It notes to remind me of special ingredients or elements in some of the recipes. (I'm going to be very highly organized in my next life!)

:wink:

Edited by jgm (log)
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We keep all the magazines and cookbooks (I have Bon Appetit back to 1978) in date order. We go thru them and the cookbooks recording recipes by catagory if we find one we like. We simpley record the date and page number or the name of the cookbook and page number. We use this as a reference and then go and get the book. Takes up a lot of space but I don't mind. These web sites (Epicurious, etc) don't keep them forever.

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Still working on total organization.. :biggrin:

I have notebooks with glued in recipes, tips & hints. The notebooks are organized simply by Tips, Appetizers, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert. I must have at least 4 of these.

Recipes that aren't already in the notebooks are filed in the filing cabinet for future clip & paste sessions.

I also have a folder in Word Perfect for Recipes, broken down into sub-folders. I scan some in, import/e-mail some and type others. I have MasterCook software, but find that more time consuming to enter recipes into, although easier to find recipes in. It came with 8 "cookbooks" worth of recipes also.

I would like to keep most of my recipes on the computer to save space (but I have the same issue where if I want to use a recipe, I print it out) and just use the notebooks for hints & tips and non-traditional format recipes. However, that may take awhile to accomplish.

It is a very time consuming process and sometimes I think that my hubby to be thinks I am a just a little crazy...but I think it is worth it.

Today is going to be one of those days.....

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As much as it hurts me, I've stopped subscribing to cooking magazines, as it just accumulates uncontrollably. Jgm, in my organized days before I relegated most of the magazines to the great recycling bin in the sky, I photocopied both the table of contents and the recipe index of each issue and put them into a binder. If I needed to look for something, I'd just refer to the binder. It did work. I just ran out of space to store all those magazines.

I've taken to saving what I can get online, and having sub-folders on my hard drive. If I find a recipe that I like in the odd magazine I buy now and then, I rip (or photocopy) the page out and put it into a folder, so when I want to use it, I frantically go through looking for it.

In other words, I no longer have a good system.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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My recipe organization efforts are still a work in progress, but here are the highlights:

I have a folder in my computer called "Recipes."  In it are subfolders, with names like "Cookies" and "Poultry".  I think it's important to create categories that make sense to you, whether anyone else would like or be able to follow your system, themselves.

Here's the important part:  If you go to the Epicurious website, most of the recipes in Bon Appetit and Gourmet can be found after the issue is no longer current.  Any of those recipes can be called up, highlighted (click and drag, in other words), and copied and pasted into a word processing file.  I find it helpful to paste them "unformatted."  In either Word or WordPerfect, go to Edit, then Paste Special, then choose Unformatted Text.  That will paste plain text into your document, without a lot of formatting codes that can make it difficult to work with.  Then save to the appropriate folder.

I'm with you on this one. I have failed miserably at managing clipped recipes in notebooks et al and find it a lot easier to manage electronically. Also, this enables me to pull up several recipes at once and compare!

Kate

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For me, there is something oddly comforting about My Recipe Box. Yes, with the indes cards.

I can sit, late at night, with the kids all sleep, a cup of coffee or a martini, and write new ones out.

I can also sit, at any time of day, and fondle them, love them and reorganize them.

Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I like the printed (or cursive) word, and I love stumbling over those recipes which were written in the late 1800's and early 1900's in my great grandmother's spidery cursive in fountain pen.

Yes, the recipe box. I can't tell you how many times I've reorganized it, and how many times said reorganization has prompted me to make dishes that I have wanted to try, dishes from my childhood, dishes I love but have forgotten about.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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For me, there is something oddly comforting about My Recipe Box.  Yes, with the indes cards.

I can sit, late at night, with the kids all sleep, a cup of coffee or a martini, and write new ones out.

I can also sit, at any time of day, and fondle them, love them and reorganize them.

Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I like the printed (or cursive) word, and I love stumbling over those recipes which were written in the late 1800's and early 1900's in my great grandmother's spidery cursive in fountain pen.

Yes, the recipe box.  I can't tell you how many times I've reorganized it, and how many times said reorganization has prompted me to make dishes that I have wanted to try, dishes from my childhood, dishes I love but have forgotten about.

i, too am a dinosaur. my "recipe box" now is two big workout shoe boxes that i am constantly adding to and deleting from. i copy out recipes from my cooking magazines then pass them on - cooking light to my friend 'chelle, other assorted ones i hoard up and throw in whenever i send cookbooks out to eg's who reply on the FREE COOKBOOKS thread as a lagnaippe...

when i want to do some cooking or try a new recipe(or an old one) i pull the boxes out and start going through them... i pull the cards move them around, thinking of the colors, textures, temperature the food is served at until i get a menu i like. right now i have recipes for a sweet potato pie and sweet and sour onions pulled to go with our christmas dinner on new year's eve.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I'm in the 3-ring binder with plastic page protector camp. And a few recipes on my computer, but not many since my computer is nowhere near my kitchen. I have a "system" of keeping recipes I want to try in the inside pocket of the binder. If they're keepers, they get into the plastic.

Occasionally, though, I cull the whole lot and chunk about 80% of the untried recipes and about 10% of the binder residents. I highly recommend this. Very liberating. I figure if there is something I REALLY want to make, I'll find a recipe for it or figure it out myself.

When my kids go out on their own, I hope to put together nice family cookbooks for them. Maybe I'll combine this with the scrapbooking idea... Oh well. I have 15 years or so to think about it.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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I've got a "recipes" folder on my computer. Anything that I cook with any frequency, I've got written down there. It's beautifully and efficiently formatted with Microsoft Word. Except after I had to reformat my main drive, I had to reinstall a lot of software -- only my MS Word disks are lost , and my efficient and beautiful recipes look like garbled nonsense in wordpad... Bill Gates is teh debil.

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First, I get the recipe into my computer. That means that I either sit down and type it into Word, or I scan it and paste it into a blank Word document. If you don't have a scanner, you can even take a digital photo of the recipe, and that seems to work fine, too.

Once the recipe is saved, I open another Word document, which I call 'Recipes.' This is my master document of hyperlinks. In Word, select 'Insert' 'Hyperlink' (Ctrl-K); select the 'Recent Files' tab, then choose the new recipe that you just saved. Voila! Now I have a quick way to click right to the recipe I want.

This gives me a master document with links to all of my recipes just like a cooking web site. I've organized my document with subsections e.g. Soups, Vegetarian, Poultry, Seafood, etc. And the nice thing about it is it's searchable .

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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What I do is something similar to what John does.

I leave all the separate recipe files in one folder, then place shortcuts to the recipes in various subfolders titled Chicken, Chocolate, Fish, Cookies etc, and in more than one subfolder sometimes. For example, Korova Cookies would go to both Cookies and Chocolate.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I have two different systems depending on if I have made the recipe or not. The first thing I do when I get a magazine or cookbook is to make a list of all the recipes that I might want to try and tape or staple it inside the front cover (recipes that I have torn out of magazines or printed from the web go in file folders divided by type of food in a file drawer). With recipes that I have actually tried and want to keep, I put on my webpage here:

Kim's Cookbook

It's a good site and very easy to use. I print out each recipe and keep it in binders so that I don't have to print it out everytime I want to cook it. I also keep things like my Christmas menus, shopping lists for Christmas foods, general canning information, etc. there. I really like that I can give people who ask for recipes the link and its there for them. I also like the feeling that I am keeping a record of my tried and true recipes for my daughter and any future generations - I know that I love having recipes from my older relatives - especially the ones who have passed.

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I'd hardly call what I do "management," but after years of having cooking mags piling up around the house, I decided I had to try the electronic route.  I now fold down page corners that have recipes of interest as I read the magazine.  I've been trying to then get on line every month to pull those recipes from the respective magazines' web sites, and then I can at least toss the issues.  Of course, there are also at least a few folders' worth of pages that have been torn out over the years, but I agree--there's nothing like "Sure--I'll print/email it" when someone asks for a recipe!

I can't imagine taking the time to (literally) cut and paste, plus I love knowing that if I spill something on a recipe, I can just toss that copy and print it again another time.  The other advantage to keeping them on the hard drive is that I can go in and make notes easily.

My two cents...

You're closest to my personal attempt at not drowning in recipes. I must warn those who want try the scanning route: it's time consuming and (if you want to OCR the recipe, like I do) you have to sit there and correct things like "112 cups of flour" to the original " 1 1/2 cups of flour". You get the idea). I felt that OCR was necessary (instead of just keeping the scanned image) because you can then do an ingredient search).

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I use a unique combination of intuition and a variation of the Chaos Theory...

Actually, 1/2 of my recipes are on my PDA and backed up on hard drive, 1/4 are filed in folders along side my books, and the rest are stored in the soft matter between my ears. The problem I'm having is I recently moved and all of my books are in boxes until remodeling is complete, I spent an hour in the garage the other day trying to track down a sticky buns recipe...

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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