Friday, August 31, 2012

Seasonal Produce Recipe Notebook

Recipe organization is a constant struggle for me. I know my problem is that I save too many recipes! It is daunting to find a way to organize them all. I often forget I have a particular recipe, or can't find a recipe that I'm sure I have somewhere.

A couple years ago I hatched the idea of organizing some of my recipes seasonally instead of by type of dish.   (I wrote about it here and you all gave me some ideas.) I like to plan my menus to use the fresh things growing in my garden. It was frustrating to search through six cookbooks to find zucchini recipes. Or discover a recipe using peaches that I clipped out of magazine, two weeks after the peach season ended.

Last summer I started a notebook for my seasonal recipes. This year, I've added to it. It isn't complete yet, but it has worked wonderfully this summer.


My recipe notebook is a three ring binder, filled with page protectors. I'm not sure if you can see much by the photo, but I typed up some basic info for every fruit and vegetable that we typically eat. I have three sections on the page - Grow, Preserve, and Serve. Under "Grow" I list my normal planting and harvest dates, or the date I need to order from the orchard. Under "Preserve" I list all the ways I preserve this fruit or vegetable as well as some of the specific details. Hopefully having this info written down will cut down on the number of phone calls I make to my mom during canning season! Under "Serve" I list all the ways we like to eat it.

After this page, I have empty page protectors to slide in recipes. Some of these are my tried-and-true favorites and others are ones torn from a magazine or printed off the web.

It has been so nice to have my recipes all together. I'm not about to give up my cookbook collection, but at least my well used favorites and recipes on scraps of paper now have a home. Whether I have a bushel of tomatoes or a huge pan of cooked pumpkin, I can turn to that section and quickly find all our favorite recipes. It has helped jog my memory of recipes that my family looks forward to each year.



I also have a general section with labels for Main Dish, Baking, and Canning. This is for those recipes that are adaptable for many different kinds of produce, such as the quiche that can contain any vegetable, the muffin good with any fruit, or the canned soup containing ten kinds of vegetables.

And to cull my recipe collection? Now that I have a central place for all my seasonal recipes, I made it a rule that, for example, any asparagus recipe that I had not made by the end of asparagus season would be thrown away. You can't believe how hard it is for me to throw away a recipe. But why do I think that holding onto the recipe for another year would make it more likely for me to use it? Time to be ruthless!

I'm not finished with the notebook. I still have a few recipes that I want to type up, or print off my blog to add to the notebook. As I discover new recipes, it will always be a work in progress. But this notebook has held a place of honor on my counter this summer and I expect its value to increase as the years go by.

Do you have any ideas for seasonal recipe organization?

12 comments :

  1. This sounds like a great solution! I had a hard time remembering where my peach-tomato salsa recipe had come from last year-couldn't find it in my canning books, or my notebook of recipes (which doesn't have a canning section but certainly should!).

    I finally located it saved in Mastercook (tho we've switched computers since last summer and my version of Mastercook isn't fully compatible with the new one which means I have to work off a flash drive to retrieve my entries.) That makes this an especially timely idea for me. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen -
      If you are like me, some of these recipes you only use once a year, so it is even harder to remember where I last put it!
      Gina

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  2. I so need to do this! I have been searching all summer for various recipes since I can't remember where I put them or what book I got them out of. What a great idea!

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  3. Sounds like a great system! Perhaps someday you can publish your own seasonal cookbook from all the recipes you have come up with.

    ReplyDelete
  4. you to? Mine's not really seasonal but since we started eating Wheat Belly style (Dr. William Davis) I got rid of most of my recipe books and have started doing the 3 ring binder to. You can see my post here how I'm doing mine.

    http://mrsbettybargain.blogspot.com/2012/08/recipe-binders-organization.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a wonderful idea for those that really eat seasonally. I don't know if it would help me because we eat pumpkin baked goods 365 and my hand picked blueberries all through winter. Lol. Maybe when we actually have a large garden I will have to organize mine like this! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe I shouldn't call it a seasonal organization because I have it organized alphabetically. I wasn't sure how to do it by seasons, since like you, we can eat pumpkin any time and enjoy broccoli in the spring and fall.

      But I'm loving having it organized by fruit or vegetable instead of all baked goods together, or main course.
      Gina

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  6. I outgrew my three ring binder(S) for my various recipes a couple years back. They got so big and cumbersome and I would clean them out regularly too LOL I went to a plastic crate from Target with hanging file folders. I am able to have "categories" that I didn't have room for before. Many of the pages still have the page protectors on them - if they are tried and true they get a page protector. Its so easy to throw new ones printed off the internet etc.. into the files and then ditch the ones that don't work for us. I LOVE my file and would never want to be without it again!!!

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  7. I'm with you Gina, I can hardly throw out a recipe but know that if I have not made it in 2 or 3 years that should tell me something don't you think? :)
    I like your method of organizing..I have a number of binders with different categories and it works quite well but these binders are getting too full so ;downsizing' them will be one of my winter projects..ohh boy!

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  8. Hi , do you have a good , and easy bath bar soap recipe?? please email me one if you have it.. thanks
    gdkardos@hotmail.com

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  9. Tomato pie is really good I wondered if you have tried it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No I haven't. Do you have a good recipe?
      Gina

      Delete

I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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