My mom rarely used a recipe when she cooked. That was fine by me as I daily enjoyed her delicious meals while growing up. However, when I got married and wanted to make her yummy doughnuts, it became a problem. I still remember calling her as a new bride to ask for the recipe and hearing something like this on the other end of the line: “I use about this much flour and sugar; add some milk until it’s the right consistency. I throw in a pinch of this and a little of that. I knead the dough until it feels right; let them rise. And then I fry them in the Crisco until I can tell they are done.”
I tried to make those doughnuts. The whole batch ended up in the trashcan. I even tried them a second time—and again, the trashcan was their final destination. I knew then that if I were to ever enjoy my mom’s doughnuts, I would need her to make them.
Sadly, I can’t cook like my mom. I have to follow recipes. My daughters are not endowed with my mom’s gift either. They go by recipes too. So, before the three girls got married, and embarked on their cooking careers as new wives, I decided to create a notebook of all the recipes we enjoy.
Eight years later I’m only now finishing the compilation of this notebook. Of course I haven’t been consistently working on it all this time; the project simply got shelved along the way. However, this past summer I made a concerted effort to complete it.
I have taken all of our favorite recipes—found in numerous cookbooks, torn from magazines, accrued from cooking classes, collected from friends, and even saved from my wedding showers years ago—typed them out on my computer, printed them, inserted each one into a page protector (to protect from food splatters) and then placed them behind the appropriate tab of a big spiral notebook.
Though the original intent of this project was to help my girls, it has served me too. I’ve been able to throw away all the tattered recipe cards, messy pieces of papers and folded magazine pages and compile them neatly into one notebook. I no longer have to go searching through fifteen cookbooks before I find a recipe that was a big hit with my family. It’s also made meal planning easy. I can sit down with the notebook, flip through the different sections, quickly decide on a meal, and have all the meal’s ingredients listed right in front of me for my grocery list.
Now, by no means am I sharing the details of my system to suggest that you must do the same. I simply hope to spark your creativity—in case you desire a more efficient way to store and access your recipes and then to pass them along to your daughters (or anyone else for that matter). And if you do decide to create a better system, hopefully it won’t take you eight years like it did me!
All this talk about recipes and food is making me hungry. In fact, my mouth is watering for my mom’s doughnuts. Of course, I don’t have a recipe for them in my notebook. Maybe I’ll just give her a call to see if she’s up for making a batch for me!