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?