My mum has this amazing recipe folder that makes me really jealous. It has years and years of recipes clipped from magazines neatly clipped and stuck into place, organised by the principle ingredient.
I have this:
Yeah. I’ve been a lot better at the collecting than the organising and so they’re all stuffed into this massive folder, about 97.8 per cent uncooked. It’s so hard to find the one that I want that I pretty much always just look something up on the internet rather than looking through that behemoth. I’m also using Evernote to clip recipes I see on the internet rather than printing them off.
But. I spend a lot of time cooking away from home, and far far away from the internet. I spend a lot of time at my friends’ cottage in the wilds of Wales, at a small seaside resort down in Devon and camping in various off the beaten track places. All of these places have one thing in common: very very limited access to the mobile network (let alone fancy data or 3G connections). They’re also all places it’s nice to cook.
Mr V and I spent ten days in the middle of nowhere in central France last year and I took three cook books with me and really enjoyed having some old favourites to hand (as well as trying out a few new ones). But that was a holiday taken with just the two of us in the car, when a lot of my holidays are undertaken by public transport or crammed in with all my friends plus luggage. I can’t just take my favourite cook books every where I go.
So I’ve given up on creating a nice recipe binder to use at home like my mum has, and instead am happy to use cook books and the internet at home and made this nifty little travel recipe book for when I’m away, with just recipes I’ve tried and tested and know I can cook for a hungry table of people without worrying that they’re horrid or won’t work. They’re the sort of recipes that some people would know off by heart but I seem unable to remember volumes and weights of anything, even things I’ve been cooking regularly for years.
Here tis. Ta da!
I used this fancy exercise book that my friend gave me for my birthday last year. I gave it a plastic cover to protect it during its travels. It has these cute pink, gingham and lace pages with a sort of fake luggage tag to put the recipe name in.
The fact it has this pattern on every page really helps with keeping things looking cohesive. Without that, it’d look pretty chaotic because I’ve taken a mix and match approach to transferring recipes – I’ve either scanned and printed them from books I have at home, printed them straight from the internet, or written them out by hand. I haven’t organised them much, just put anything savoury in from the front and anything sweet in from the back.
I’ve also tried to think about what sort of things I might need to know when I’m cooking in the middle of nowhere without any access to the internet. So in the middle I’ve put a bit of a reference section with conversion tables, and I’m filling it up with substitutions from the Cook’s Thesaurus as I think of them (did you know you can replace eggs with mayonaise when you’re making cakes?). I also made sure to print out a full guide to how long to roast different meats based on their weights.
Most of the pictures have come from the recipe itself, but I particularly like this page where I used a picture of the cake when I made it, so I’ve left some gaps for some of my own pictures when I next make the recipes.
I mentionned earlier that I covered it with a plastic thing to keep it safe, what I didn’t say was that I bought one on the internet but when it arrived it was a bit flimsy and didn’t fit the book correctly. So I bought a better (sturdy, glossy) one (that fits) from Rymans.
But, I kept the other one (it was pretty cheap). I’ve tucked it in the back pocket of the new cover so I can use it to cover the pages of the book when I’m cooking. I’m a suuuuper messy cook. (So much so that the best way to find my favourite recipes in my cook books is to find the pages that have been stuck together).
Aaaaaaand finally, a picture with my hand in it to show you the scale.
To see some of the recipes that have made it into my tried-and-true, can’t-live-without-’em cookbook, click here.
What are yours?