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Keeping a Diary


rich
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In reading the February issue of Bon Appetit, I came across an interesting tidbit. On the back page (not cover), the magazine runs a monthy Q&A with a celebrity, asking culinary questions. This month a writer was featured. The question was about how much entertaining is done at home.

The women (forget her name) replied and in the answer stated her husband kept a diary of every meal they served to guests. It listed the names of guests and what they were served.

I found this interesting because I've been doing this for three years. It started because at one dinner someone commented on how flavorful the soup was. Another guest said "...it may be better than the last time you made it." I was totally embarrassed. I would always trust my memory to never serve the same thing to the same person. But when you do three to four dinner parties a month, the memory begins to get overworked.

After that night I decided to start a diary, which would list the dishes I served, who was ther, the date, the recipe source if any and the wines served. Now every time I have guest over I check their entries, making sure I do no repeats (unless specifically requested - I have people who have made repeat requests and I try to accommodate).

Does anyone else do this? I also list all the dishes I prepare for the holidays (Chirstmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Kentucky Derby etc.) so not to repeat except for some things that have become traditions.

It's also fun to pull out on occasion and make note of the things made - to check in which direction your culinary skills are headed.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I have been keeping some form of food diary for the past few years, I religiously put in anything related to a dinner party. I write down the names of guests, menu, what dishes worked, what didn't.

Recently (~6 months) I have been writing down every dinner I make at home when it is just the two of us. I do this not so much to keep track of what we ate, but more along the lines of keeping track of my cooking experiements and if they worked or not.

I recently started using the notebooks to keep track of recipes I like from magazines as well. I used to keep every issue of every cooking magazine I got and it got to be a huge space hog. What I do now is read through each issue and transcribe any recipes that interest me into the book. Usually it is only 2-3 per issue. Hand transcribing the recipes although tedious, allows me to better remember the recipe type for those nights I am trying to come up with something for dinner.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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I've kept a jounal from every kitchen I've cooked in, the menues ,dishes I've prepared, what worked, what didn't, and another book just for ideas when I've a idea(or a buzz). Even sketches of what I would like them to come out like.

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I do this. I started a couple of years ago. I keep a list of menus that I serve to company and also holidays. I also put in special meals in local restaurants and meals eaten on trips. If I have matchbook covers/business cards from the place, I put those in, too. Its a nice little scrapbook kind of thing. My current one is small (5 x 7 inches, probably), but my next one is going to be bigger, so that I can get more on one page and I usually print out my menu for special occasion dinners on nice paper, so I'll be able to put those in there, too.

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  • 5 months later...

I've been thinking about keeping a diary to include family dinners as well as notes from when we entertain. Can those of you who keep such diaries elaborate on the format you use: type of book or computer file? chronological or by dish type?

I can also see such an undertaking as becoming a family heirloom.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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I keep a baking diary. I bake several times a week, trying new recipes, fiddling with baking temperatures, convection vs reg oven temp, ingredients, etc. I use a small (4" x 6") wirebound notebook. My entries are chronological with little post it tags when I am satisfied with the recipe. I keep notes on any adjustments to the recipe, where I got the recipe, who the baked good went to, any feedback I received.... I started this 2 years ago and I am now on my third little book.

My family jokes about my baking notebook because I carry with me 24/7 in my purse or suitcase. Where ever I go and taste other people's or shop's baked goods, I keep notes on what I liked or didn't like. This is how I developed my own recipe for a chocolate chip cookie with candied orange peel and almond orange flavorings. My hubbie and I stopped in a small bakery in Emeryville, CA and tried a few cookies and loved I the Orange Davinci cookie.

A dear friend passed away last week and I have been thinking what a shame she never wrote any recipes down. She kept all her recipes in her head. Emily was a great natural cook.

"A few days ago, I heard a doctor talking on television about the dangers of stress. It can kill you. It can cause a heart attack or stroke. The doctor listed many ways of coping with stress. Exercise. Diet Yoga. Talk a walk. I yelled, "Bake cookies." I often talk to the television. I yelled it again and again. The doctor went on with his list of 12 ways to reduce stress and he never once mentioned my sure-fire treatment......"

Maida Heatter

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I just started doing this! I have a goal to push myself to cook two new meals a week (I don't cook much at all during my long work week). By next spring I want to have a very long list and hopefully the knowledge and experience that comes with this activity. Then, and only then, will I allow myself to sign up for Boot Camp at the CIA.....

I use an excel spreadsheet - hmmmm I wonder if a spreadsheet could be a family hierloom? :huh:

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

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I keep a Kitchen Notebook -- in it is recorded recipes which I have either made up or have gotten verbally from someone else, & I also started writing down special meals I've made for friends. I keep a separate database on the computer which has menus for special occasions (holidays, the "thank-you" party my husband & I throw each year for his theatre volunteers, etc.). I've also recently started a wine diary, recording the new stuff we've tried, with brief notes.

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For years I have been keeping a record of parties, I just recently started keeping track of dinner entertaining and it sure comes in handy when you don't have that great of a memory. I will start to photograph the table setting any time I have guests also.

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  • 3 months later...

My first post here...

The one thing that I would add is, everytime the wife and I do a dinner I also make notes on things like whether we needed more serving spoons, how many quarts the punch bowl holds, (so I can better plan for the drink) and all those other things that occur to you while you are serving and entertaining or washing the dishes and cleaning up.

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My first post here...

The one thing that I would add is, everytime the wife and I do a dinner I also make notes on things like whether we needed more serving spoons, how many quarts the punch bowl holds, (so I can better plan for the drink) and all those other things that occur to you while you are serving and entertaining or washing the dishes and cleaning up.

Good idea, and welcome, Vilasman!

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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