Sunday, May 16, 2010

going old school with the recipes

I have tried numerous systems for storing my recipes and planning my meals over the years, but lately I'm really into simplifying (perhaps it is a theme for the entire year--simplifying my books, my stuff, my clothes, and now my food and recipes). It has finally dawned on me that if I cook super simple meals it means I won't have a fridge crammed with half used jars of condiments and different ingredients that I only used once. A couple weeks ago I cleaned out our refrigerator and threw away a ton of that stuff. It was amazing to have a clean and clear refrigerator where we can see what we need and eat what we have. To keep it that way requires a commitment to cooking and eating more simply and I am all about that right now. As I save money on not buying a lot of exotic ingredients, I am spending more on buying organics and lots of produce (and yes, some frozen entrees for Faith who is a vegetarian now--once again, hooray for Trader Joe's).
With the recipes, what I'm trying to do is get my most loved and used ones down on cards-- easy to find and easy to put away. In the past I've used a giant binder with recipes in plastic sheet protectors. I hate handling that heavy thing, hate all the plastic, and hate not being able to find the recipes I need because they get removed from the binder and not put back. I'm so over that system. So last summer I bought this gorgeous new recipe box with letterpress cards and I've slowly been transferring my most used and loved basic and simple recipes to it. It's a pleasure to hand write the recipes and so easy to find them and to put them away. The recipe box and cards are from here. Well worth the price, I say, and when I'm done with my 2-year spending freeze this is exactly the kind of purchase I feel is "worth it." I'd love to support more etsy sellers and independent artists.

Tonight we had an old fashioned Sunday dinner and I loved it. Fried chicken drumsticks (using my friend Sylvia's recipe--it was fun looking up the scrap of paper where I had written it and recalling the picnic where she made it for us the first time), a big salad, glazed carrots, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for our Sunday treat.

I'm loving this simplified eating plan. Anyone else having these same thoughts about food and eating?

15 comments:

Nancy said...

I've tried it both ways (recipe cards and binders) but I don't have a good answer. I love, love letterpress cards, but my mom has lost many a beloved recipe from her box, so I'm not sure whether to go back to that or not.

BTW, I so did not need to know that Trader Joe's has delicious croissants. Argh! ;)

Mary Beth said...

Sorry, Nancy, but they are SO good! :)

Rain said...

I love the recipe box. And your dinner sounds delicious.
Right now I have two ways of storing recipes. One is a small blank book (sketch pad). It's the perfect size and I never lose any of the recipes because it's all right there-but flipping through it to find what I'm looking for can be annoying.
The other is a large cigar box with recipe cards and printed recipes off the computer.
Simple food is where it's at. Last nights dinner was a huge bowl of brown rice with roasted veg. on top (sweet potato & parsnips).

Mary Beth said...

Rain--oh yum. I love roasted vegetables. I have some notebooks with recipes too. You're right--flipping through pages of recipes to find the one you're looking for can be really time consuming!

Meg said...

I have been accumulating recipe cards (they always seem to have cute ones in the $1 bin at Michaels), and I recently decided that it was time to get rid of my huge binder and magazines. I'm slowly writing down recipes that are "keepers." And like you, I'm trying to ditch the ones that require exotic ingredients. Simpler is better! I do love your recipe box, and I may have to copy you on that!

Karen said...

oh, Marybeth, I've been having the EXACT SAME thoughts lately :-)

I love that you are taking the time to be purposeful about coordinating your recipes in a simple place. I'll always remember my mom and grandmother's recipe boxes ....

this would make an amazing gift for someone, too.

someday i'll do this too. thanks for the inspiration!

is all this simplifying part of your own Happiness Project? i love the idea of a HP!!

btw have you tried the masala burgers at TJ's? out of this world!

Little Ol' Liz said...

I'm a simple cook, too. I used to "collect" cookbooks and recipes, but they sit unused in another area of the house. My laptop sits on the kitchen table, so it's the easiest to use when I want to branch out and try a new recipe. What isn't for free on the Internet? If it's something we really like, I drop it into a Word Doc (and a flash drive for safe keeping) to use again. I used to love spending weeks reading cookbooks like novels, but free time is a comodity like everything else.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

I'm with you!! I think fresh herbs are the most exotic thing we need to cook up something special. As for the recipes, I'm still in the multiple, large binders. I adore trying new recipes and am forever tearing them out of mags. My new rule is to not put it IN the binder until I've tried it and it has my stamp of approval. Very recently I went through the binders and couldn't believe how many recipes there were that I had never even tried! Great post. Also, I'd love to hear more about this 2-year spending freeze!

Once Upon A Parent said...

Oh I have been meaning to do something similar for ages. I love the box and dividers. Right now I have a ton of pages and hand written recipes all stuffed in my silverware drawer. It is a total mess.

christina said...

Love,love those letter press cards! I am on the lookout for a recipe box, I have 2 binders one full of randoms and one full of what used to be our staples...but many of them I no longer cook. I am wanting to go the recipe box route to simplify also. I am in the process of accumulating simple staple recipes for most nights, so that I don't have to cook a new recipe too often. In an attempt to simplify mealtimes just a wee bit.

out of curiosity does your trader joes use lots and lots of plastic to wrap the produce and do they supply with local farms out there?

kristen said...

Mary Beth, I just love you, for two reasons, MB is also my lovely sister's name, but also because you are always inspiring me to be a better person! Thank you!

That box is so lovely. I have that same crazy binder system going on and it clearly needs to go.

Also, can you tell us more about your 2 year spending freeze?

sheer whimsy said...

that is the CUTEST recipe box i've ever seen!!

Mary Beth said...

Thanks for all the recipe box love, everyone.

Christina--our Trader Joe's has a lot of packaging on all the food and it is not particularly local either (although since we live in California I think some of the things come from nearby-ish). I've agonized over this and discussed it with my husband and we think it's best for our family, since we both work, I have a long commute, the kids are little, etc., to save my sanity and shop and Trader Joe's where it's easy. "I'm only one mama," as I tell the kids. On the other hand, we have a huge garden coming on and multiple fruit trees in our yard so will be eating super local very soon.

Kristin--thank you! And yes, I'll talk more about the spending freeze at some point.

christina said...

I seem to agonize over it also, glad I'm not the only one, but your right, sometimes we have to make choices that aren't always what we want but are the best thing for our current situation..thanks for the reply.

~Heather said...

Once your letterpress cards run out, or if you're getting a recipe from online, here's a great way to transfer the info to some pretty recipe cards:
http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/streamline-your-recipes-by-giving-them-a-uniform-look-117954