11 December 2019 • Personal

alt text

I don’t actually know if my mom liked cooking, but she did it a lot and was good at it. Her Yummy Bars were always the best thing at any party, and everything she made was always full of flavor and the literal definition of comfort food. I know my dad loved to cook; he was the grill master, the one who made rigatoni or pancakes, and the one who did the most experimenting with spices when Mom was away.

But me? I hated cooking growing up.

I don’t know why, but cooking was never something that I latched on to when I was a kid. The only things I would “cook” were frozen pizzas, ramen noodles (the 10¢ packs), and later on, some boxed Kraft Mac & Cheese. A far cry from making Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family.

I can actually pinpoint the key moments throughout my life that instilled a love of cooking within me. Moving to college and discovering the Food Network during Thanksgiving break. Moving into an apartment and getting sick of frozen dinners (and being grotesquely overweight). Making some pizza rollups1 or frying eggs at 3am with college friends. Moving to a new city and going to a massive farmer’s market that next day. Meeting a really amazing woman & deciding to make her stuffed peppers, death-by-chocolate cake, and hundreds of other delicious things as a way of convincing that I’d make good husband material.

(It worked.)

But now here I am, years later, trying to figure out how to best catalog all of my recipes. I’ve been using an application called Evernote for years, but a variety of things are making that not a great solution for me. I’ve had a few people suggest Google Drive, and storing the recipes in separate notes with links, change management, and search functions. I think if I go back to a technology-rooted solution, this might be the one.

Instead, I think I’m going to go analog for 2020.

I’m always a huge fan of nice notebooks. Not the 39¢ versions you get while back-to-school shopping, but the really nice ones like Decomposition Books or Moleskine notebooks. My handwriting generally sucks, but I always get satisfaction from writing things down when there’s a purpose to it. I’m also not a sentimental person, but the idea of a functional log of handwritten information that I can share with others holds strong appeal to me.

To that end, I think my solution is going to be this: using a Moleskine notebook (or series of notebooks) to keep track of all of the recipes I cook in 2020. And I think I’ve already figured out a system for this:

  • Write down the recipe on the left-side page.
  • Keep a “made it” log on the right, complete w/ dates, notes, and revisions.
  • At the end of the year, anything that was made >= 3x gets added to the Evernote archive (or wherever my recipes are living at that point in time).

That’d actually provide me with a few key things:

  1. Intentionality. Anything I make gets written down.
  2. Journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling or blogging or whatever it is people do to talk about what they’re thinking, so this gives me a quasi-way of doing that.
  3. Reducing clutter. Right now, EVERY recipe I have resides in Evernote; there’s a couple dozen that have never been made in the 7+ years I’ve been cataloging them. Pruning or purging is hard, because “well what if I want to make this someday?” This would help me eliminate clutter.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? You have a better suggestion? You should hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

  1. Canned crescent roll triangles, each with 6 slices of pepperoni and half a cheese stick. Roll ‘em up, bake ‘em how the roll instructions stipulate, and enjoy. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.