I’m sure that some of you have all your recipes on-line and (could it be?) don’t have a cookbook of any sort in your house. Most of you, I know, have from some to many cookbooks plus a personal recipe file or binder. As I wrote last week, I have a couple of cookbooks, and I have a rather large recipe binder, which I use almost exclusively.
My binder is not a thing of beauty; however, it suits me perfectly. I made it from a 4″ binder, plastic sleeves, dividers, and colored paper, all of which I had in our office supply cupboard. My divisions are
- Vegetarian Entrees
- Pizza, Tacos, Sandwiches
- Hot Pasta
- Cold Pasta, Salads
- Veggie Sides, Grains, Beans
- Other Desserts
- Appetizers, Sauces, Beverages
The recipes I have tried and want to make again are at the front of each section. Recipes I hope to make are stored behind these. I try to be brutal in deciding if a recipe is worthy of being added to the book. I hope to make any recipe that I clip from a magazine or newspaper within the next month, preferably within the next week; otherwise, it’s in danger of becoming aspirational clutter. In addition, I try to be honest about what I really will make. I am a successful and functional family cook. I am not a gourmand (or as we like to call them in the United States, I am not a “foodie.”) While Chicken with Garbonzo Beans and Fennel may sound delightful, the truth is that in the last 48 years, I have never to my knowledge eaten fennel, and I am not likely to start now. To store the recipe would be to add aspirational clutter to my cookbook.
I use the on-line source allrecipes.com for the majority of my explorations into new recipes. I occasionally see a recipe on-line that I’d like to make and store it in the “recipe box” that All Recipes provides, but most of the time I make the recipe by reading it right off the computer. If I like it, it gets printed and stored in the binder. If not, I just shut down the computer.
It’s easy to pull recipes out of the newspaper and magazines, especially if you have a subscription to a cooking magazine such as Vegetarian Times or Cooking Light. Try to be realistic. Clipping more recipes that you can or will ever make adds clutter to your life and makes it harder, not easier, to make decisions about what to have for dinner. Most of us only make a handful of recipes over and over again. That’s okay. And if the occasion ever arises where you really are going to make Lobster Nurenberg or Châteaubriand, there are plenty of on-line guides, as well as the library, to help you get that special meal just right.
In addition, to my recipe binder, I have a separate list of a few meals that I can pull together very quickly, and I keep all the ingredients for these dishes on hand at all times. Being prepared in this way prevents a mad rush to the store or the take-away place when my afternoon doesn’t seem to allow for cooking (or when I just can’t get off my hind end). These foods are:
- I have a package of cooked chicken that has been diced or shredded in the freezer, as well as meal-size packages of ham. I also have a wide variety of frozen vegetables.
- Six can soup. I use frozen chicken, rather than canned, and add cumin and oregano to this basic recipe.
- Tortillas with canned beans, cheese, and the frozen chicken.
- Red beans and rice mix from the pantry cooked with sausage links from the freezer.
- Canned chili accompanied by cornbread from a mix
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Chicken a la King
Paper clutter is one that really bogs people down, and dealing with a bunch of unnecessary paper clutter at the same time that you’re trying to make a meal is just unnecessary. I challenge you to go to your recipe box right now and recycle 10 recipes that you know you’re never going to make. It’s okay. Let them go. There are millions and millions of delicious foods in this world. Ten recipes fewer aren’t going to keep you from a delicious life, but they could keep you from finding that recipe that you really do want.
Today’s Declutter Item
One of these cables belongs to something we don’t even own any more and the other has a US plug. So neither are of much use to us. These two will go in the trash as I think they will be of very limited demand or use here in Australia.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
Correct postage calculations on ebay sales. I love to go to the post office to mail off completed ebay actions and find the postage is exactly what I am expecting. Couple that with the fact that more stuff has left my house and I am a very happy lady.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast