Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mystery of Decluttering...Recipes @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTEOver the past 4 to 6 weeks, I've been involved in what one might call "productive procrastination." This means using the inspiration about cleaning stuff out of my house (that I found here) to clean stuff out of my house. This most often happens when I am stalled on my writing. (Why is it that cleaning is so appealing when a person is hammering out a first draft?

We've made multiple trips to the clothing donation box, more trips to the church where they are collecting tchotchkes for the white elephant booth at the fair, and a family visit to our attic. (And it turns out that Andrew is a master thrower-outer, Molly and Jeff, not so much.) But I screeched to a halt when I looked at this drawer:


The picture doesn't show you that the drawer is so full, it's very hard to open or close. 

 This accordion file used to be where I kept the recipes that I would either try or had tried and liked enough to try again. At least it's minimally organized:



Whereas this box has no organization other than the newest recipes dropped on top: (And I am still adding by the way...)



And I certainly don't want to dump the whole drawer, because I'd hate to lose precious pieces of the past like this recipe in my father's handwriting:



And this one from my grandmother (his mother) in 1969:



But the truth is, I also have a ton of cookbooks. And many, many issues of Bon Appétit, which I am too embarrassed to show you and thank goodness I had the sense to discontinue. And when I want to try something new, I most often either look at my Pinterest board for food, or I Google the ingredients. And I store recipes I've made and liked on Mystery Lovers Kitchen, like this fabulous chocolate cake or this copycat crockpot pasta fagioli. 

So...help! Do you have a drawer jammed full of recipes? What will you do with them?

63 comments:

  1. Oh, yes, I have recipes tucked into all sorts of places, including inside and in between the cookbooks on the shelves in the kitchen and in kitchen drawers. Goodness only knows where else they’ve managed to get themselves stashed.
    Lately I’ve been saving recipes on my computer, but that doesn’t have the appeal of opening that cookbook to the recipe page, and besides, many of those loose recipes are precious ones written on scraps of paper or on the backs of envelopes, courtesy of my mom and my grandmother.

    I know myself far too well to say I’m going to organize them or put them in a binder or anything like that; in truth, I’m not likely to do much of anything with them except to add to the collection . . . .

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    1. I'm like you Joan, I'd so much prefer to have and work from a hard copy! and we are both hopeless about organizing...sigh

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  2. Alas, yes. I have my metal recipe box stuffed with recipes on 3x5 cards that I'm sure I'll never make again. I also have my mother's version of same. And printouts of recipes I make once and stash down amongst the pie pans. What Joan said - I know myself too well to say I'm going to winnow them out. I, too, often head to the internet for a new recipe. Good luck with yours (and with the stalled book), Roberta.

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  3. I keep the recipes that I like and use in plastic sleeves in several three ring binders, sorted by category. I've stopped keeping recipes that I don't use because they just became clutter.

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    1. You're so smart to be a minimalist right away Sandy! What about the ones you haven't tried yet?

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  4. I don't have a drawer full of recipes. I have a drawer full of things to open or close stuff with--old locks, box cutters, and the like--and I have a separate drawer devoted to rolls of tape. The recipes get stuffed in between the pages of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Well, one of them. I think I have three: one I bought myself, one my mother bought for Warren when he was still single, and I think my mother's old copy from when she was a young bride, which is . . . somewhere around here. Stuffing recipes in with other recipes is a proud family tradition, dating back at least three generations.

    Mostly, these days, however, I scan or type or copy interesting new recipes to a Word file, which I keep in a directory folder named "Recipes" on my computer. The main "Recipes" folder has two sub-folders: "Human Recipes" and "Dog Recipes." I do not cook either humans or dogs, but I do cook FOR both.

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    1. You certainly cannot destroy a family traditions Gigi--you are obligated to carry on!

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    2. It's a great comfort, Gigi, to know you don't cook humans or dogs. :D

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    3. Don't knock it til you've tried it

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  5. My paper recipes are pared down to three notebooks (two of which have indexes!) -- the recipes are copied or taped or stapled in. Oh, there is also the folder of recipes printed from the computer.

    My best advice, and one I adhere to when going through stuff like this is -- dispose of a third. Then do it again next year.

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    1. Or else you could hire yourself out Denise! The trouble is, going through all of them one by one could be terribly time-consuming...but I think you have a good system.

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  6. My goodness, your grandmother and mine had the same handwriting. I'm fortunate to have been allowed to peruse through and handpick a few and take home her rolling pin. She taught me to make biscuits. I had to clean out my in-laws home after they died. She was a hoarder of recipes. Drawers upon drawers and boxes. Sadly, they succumbed to mold. My throat constricted even wearing a mask. So they had to be dumped. We were able to keep two index boxes though.

    I learned from that experience and no longer keep recipes except ones which have been repeated.

    But...as a writer this could be a scene. While decluttering you come across evidence of a crime or secrets.

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    1. Oh yes Pam, such a good idea! and the story about the mold should be a lesson to all of us...

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  7. Good luck, Lucy! I love decluttering, though I don't do it enough. We are lucky… We had our roof redone and the contractor left us a dumpster for two days! So today we are madly cleaning out the garage and basement, so we are in this together, And yes, indeed, I have
    a recipe drawer, which is embarrassingly difficult to open.
    I, for years, kept notebooks of recipes, ripped out of newspapers and magazines, and taped into reporters notebooks. I threw them away last year, with some regret, because, I never looked at them, and when I did, I realized they were kind of… Old-fashioned, you know? Things I would not make anymore.
    I also culled out my cookbooks, and kept only joy of cooking, Mark Bittman, and a few others. Because really… I use the Internet.
    Lucy! I love the handwriting on those recipes… Instant nostalgia, right?

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    1. yes instant! and now I have dumpster envy...John cleaned the garage yesterday because the mouse-hole caulking people were coming. Now to keep it this way....

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  8. That wonderful trip to New Orleans? Ah, that's why I've got all those cut-out/printed out recipes for 'red beans and rice.' My mother's black raspberry cobbler--which she made without a recipe? Ditto--recipe upon recipe. None of the above ever come close, so, sort of like Denise, I am slowly purging the collection, trying to pare down to the ones I can't bear to let go (written in my Mom's handwriting), one's that we actually repeat, and ones that have a realistic chance of ever being tried. Bon chance, everyone! and Bon appetit!

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    1. three options I'm seeing...
      1. clear it out bit by bit.
      2. throw it all away. or
      3. leave for the next guy to worry about

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  9. ooooh this speaks to me. So loudly. Do I have a drawer full of recipes? LordAMercy - I surely do. And in an old cabinet I have more recipes. This from a woman who doesn't enjoy cooking as much as she once did, and now has a teensy little kitchen that really is not fun to cook in. I keep saying I'll toss them, but the one time I did, I immediately came across a recipe that I do recall making for a small dinner party (individual beef wellingtons wrapped in puff pastry and mushroom duxelles) and loved it so much it stopped me in my tracks. I need to try again 'cause I'm guessing I could find these recipes on-line now (maybe??), thanks for the nudge. I did, however, finally get rid of years worth of Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines - weren't they the best??!! I do have a few Best of Bon Appetit cookbooks that I love. I am a real pushover for cookbooks; love 'em!

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    1. Did you throw those magazines out? Or were you able to find a place where you could donate? And the individual beef Wellington's in puff pastry sound marvelous!

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    2. Kaye, I have a stack of those magazines sitting in my kitchen right now, waiting for me to decide whether to pitch or to keep. I haven't cracked a single one of them open in over ten years, so I guess I wouldn't miss them.

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    3. Lucy/Roberta - I asked at our local women's shelter if they were interested. The woman I spoke with said to bring them in. Yay!! I don't think I could have thrown them away

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  10. I'm ready to pitch any recipe I haven't made, and donate most of my cookbooks to the library sale. I'll keep the Georgia cookbooks (Grandma's microwave fudge). I do have two binders, one for cookie recipes (my daughters like to bake when they come for Christmas), and one for everything else.

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  11. I am (more or less) on top of this one! I got rid of most of my cookbooks a few years ago. I have my mothers two-volume set of Gourmet Cookbook and the Joy of Cooking I got as a wedding present... the cover has come detached. And several cookbooks by Michael Fields, unbeatable but complicated recipes a good as Julia's.

    I've weeded my recipe printouts--they're down to several file folders and a special accordion file for the all time favorites. From there, pulling at random:
    NY Times recipe for Smoked Salmon Bruschetta (with pine nuts, tomatoes, mozarella, basil...)
    Michael Fields Chicken Liver Pate
    NY Times Regina's Butter Biscuits
    Epicurious Bouillabaisse
    From my sister salmon yogurt mousse
    ... none of which have I made in the last year

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    1. I have four editions of Joy of Cooking. They're all so different, with different versions of recipes, and arranged uniquely in each one. The only things they all have in common are the dogeared corners and the food stains!

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    2. I finally had to throw my mothers copy out, after a previous dog chewed off the cover. Could have lived with that but the roach droppings were too much…

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  12. I do not have a drawer. I have a cupboard. =)

    We'll print stuff out and stack it in the cupboard on top of our cookbooks. Occasionally, I'll try to take something down (or even open the door) and the entire stack smacks me in the face. A while ago, I took out the stack and said, "Okay, which of these have we used and liked, which will we actually TRY, and which are just...ewww." I thinned the stack. For the ones we like, I want to transfer them to my "cookbook" with blank pages.

    Now I just need to do it.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Entire cupboard? Sigh. I'd be tempted to put a padlock on it!

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    2. Lucy/Roberta, you inspired me to finally put all the recipes we like or want to try into my recipe book. It took hours but the cupboard is much cleaner. =)

      Mary/Liz

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  13. Last year my daughter got married and I wanted to give her copies of our recipes. That led me to go through the pile and sort. Horror of horrors, I did throw out some recipes that we had never used in all the time we had them. Then I mounted each of the chicken-scratched ones on a full sheet of white paper and punched holes in them. A three-ring binder was next with tabs for the various categories. You need a big binder if you are like me, but it works!

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  14. With the kitchen renovation came the cookbook purge, so I'm is fairly good shape. I do have both my mother's and Julie's mother's recipe boxes, treasures to be archived although I do go into them for the odd remembered recipes of our childhood.

    I kept the Joy of Cooking, Julia Childs The Art of French Cooking, the NYT Cookbook, the red and white checkered Good Housekeeping (because this is my go-to for the most basic recipes for plain cakes and cookies) and Marcella Hazen's Italian whateveritscalled. The latter I've never opened, but Julie likes to read it.



    Recipes I use or intend to are all in a big binder. I keep a hole punch right beside it so I can file things forthwith. I

    I have always been a seat of the pants cook, rarely using a recipe for anything other than cakes, which is a chemistry project, not art class. So I haven't collected a bunch of recipes over the years until recently. But this has been the spring/supper of experimentation, and I realized I was very much in a rut.

    So come to our house if you would like Poulet a la Normande, Carribean Stew, Shrimp Linguini aglia e olio, Thai Green Curry, and a whole raft of new salads and main dishes. This week's special is zucchini bread with walnuts and currants, redolent of allspice.

    Fortunately the freezer is full, because all my cooking efforts cease on Monday and for the foreseeable future.



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    1. Earth to Ingrid: No permutation of your e mail address works, gets bounced back with a message that Ingrid@ingridthroft.com is non-existent, no matter how creative I get with the capital letters.

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    2. Ann, I can smell that zucchini bread! Ahh!

      DebRo

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    3. All of the dishes You listed sounds wonderful! We will be thinking of you next week and wishing you well. For Ingrid's last name, do not put in an R in Thoft

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  15. I was just shoving recipes in a drawer yesterday. I have a box with index cards and loose recipes that fit in. I have a drawer with printouts, pamphlets, booklets, all with recipes. And I have my cookbooks, which I did thin out considerably a few years ago. I still thumb through Southern Living each month and cut out recipes that look good. Mystery Lovers' Kitchen gets a lot of action. Once in a blue moon I'll sit down and try to weed out the recipes. How many different recipes do I need for squash casserole? Or punches? And honestly. I must have been under the influence to have cut out some of the recipes that I will never make.

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  16. I am a merciless thrower outer so I toss with joy in my heart. That being said, I have two recipe boxes of my grandmother's that I keep with my pared down collection of cookbooks (from fifty to five). When I find recipes I like - I susbscribe to Allrecipes magazine - I take a picture of it with my phone and if it's a keeper I save it to a file on my laptop. The magazine then goes to the Visiting Nurses Book Drive donation box next to my bank.

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  17. To answer your first question, maybe the concept of feng shui will provide an answer. Cluttered surroundings equal a cluttered mind. When you organize your space it makes room for creative thinking. In theory.

    I have three shelves of cookbooks, a drawer full of recipes, and a file box with a bunch more. Some in the file box are recipes I wrote down in the early 70's while watching the Galloping Gourmet on early public television. Have I ever made any of them? Nope. But I learned a ton from that crazy Graham guy, including how to make a Dutch dessert called Hangop, literally hung up and drained, yogurt, I think.

    On top of all this chaos I also put together a family recipe file for my three daughters, typing over 100 recipes into Word files, and giving them the files for Christmas, along with a binder, sleeves, and cardstock for printing out the ones they wanted to keep. Since then (about five or six years ago), I've added hundreds more recipes to my own computer files. Again, some of them I will never make, although some I added because I did make them and they were hits.

    My youngest daughter, soon to be 30, refuses to keep any cookbooks or physical recipes. She uses the computer, period. Her home is also the tidiest of any in our family.

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    1. Karen, I don't think my daughter uses a single cookbook either, although she's quite a good cook. All from the internet.

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  18. I have a similar drawer, Lucy, and endless cookbooks, but I find these days. I want a recipe I can find it on the Internet! I do have a tried and true favorites book and could never throw that away. And John has put all of his mothers recipes onto the computer. Good luck!

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  19. Oh, ack. I have a 3 ring binder. It started out with clipped recipes in plastic sleeves, organized by category. Over the years the recipes I actually use came out of the plastic sleeves and got stuffed in the front of the notebook, along with anything new that I clipped. So I should scan or copy the half dozen recipes I actually cook and put on the computer. Then throw out the binder!!!

    I do have my mom's recipe box with her handwritten cards and newspaper clippings, but that is a treasure I won't give up.

    And I have to admit I love cookbooks. I call them "food porn." When we remodeled our kitchen I got rid of the bulk of them, but the stack is creeping up again and I really have no place to shelve them. I need to make a recipe file on the computer ... I suppose our daughters will never miss the card files we didn't keep...

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    1. "I suppose our daughters will never miss the card files we didn't keep,". That made me so sad, Deb. And I've left it a bit late to do something about it.

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  20. I've given both of my daughters recipe cards for their favorite recipes, none of which are on the internet or cookbooks. I wonder what they did with them...

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    1. I think this was a gift for Molly at her bridal shower – everyone brought a recipe card with one of their favorites to start her collection. I wonder where that is?

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  21. When I read something like this it makes me realize how much I need to declutter. I helped clean out my mother's apartment, my sister-in-law's small house, and my father-in-law's apartment when they passed away. At the time, I said I really need to declutter so no one will have to do this for me. I have tons of cookbooks--I love cookbooks especially those that have stories along with the recipes. Maybe I will hold on to those because they would be easy for my kids to get rid of. But I also have totes full of recipes, food magazines and all those small recipe books that they sell at the grocery checkout. I had to force myself to stop buying those things. I also have a tote full of miscellaneous recipe clippings or printouts. And what do I do when I want to make something--just google all the ingredients. That's what I've told my daughter to do when she wants to make something I used to make. I'll tell her what it's called and she can google it. Time to start cleaning but then again it would be easy for the kids to get rid of the totes too!

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  22. I see many of you have switched partly or completely to the internet for recipes. That's fine, as far as it goes, but I have found that most all of the recipes on line have been what I called "healthed up". Try, for instance, to find an on-line recipe for Mexican food that specifies lard. Good luck with that, yet the use of lard makes a huge difference if you want authentic flavor. The same can apply with certain cuts of meat, use of spices and types of bread. So, if I want the "real thing" I remember from my Mom's table, I go with her hand-written recipe cards in the old green plastic snap-lid box.

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    1. Rick-- That is really interesting… I will notice that the next time…

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  23. Oh, those handwritten recipes. To me they are a precious part of family history and even history as I've traveled through young married life to motherhood to middle age and now getting older age. The handwritten recipes have dwindled down to the last one being from my mother-in-law a couple of years ago. There are the simple recipes my mother sent me as I was starting life out as a new bride at 22, and the vegetable soup recipe that she sent me entitled "Mommy Hen's Vegetable Soup," with a postscript of "give the soup bones to Barry and Fella." Barry and Fella were our two dogs at the time and preceded children. I have had such good intentions of gathering up the handwritten recipes and putting in a binder, but then I think of my mother's recipe drawer, just like mine, and sentimentality wins out.

    And, of course, there are the recipes torn out of magazines and, more recently, printed from online sources. I really do need to go through those and weed most of them out. But, looking through those seems to be like weeding books. "Oh, I really should keep that one, as it looks so good and I might want to fix it/read it one day.

    I am fortunate that my two favorite cookbooks are slim volumes that fit in the recipe drawer. They are Shaker Cookbooks, two volumes, and come from Shakertown near Harrodsburg, KY, so they are full of recipes that are familiar to my growing up and life in Kentucky. One of them was a wedding gift almost forty-one years ago now.

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  24. Oh, I forgot to mention that my extraordinarily well-organized daughter has a binder with family and other often fixed recipes in it. She so puts me to shame in the organization department, but I like to think that at my house there are lovely serendipitous surprises to be had.

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    1. Ha ha, at least you have a very good attitude about clutter Kathy!

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    2. It helps that my almost eight-year-old granddaughter loves to come and explore my house. Hehehe!

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  25. When I downsized to a 600 sq. ft. cottage, I cleaned out my appalling recipe collection. Now when memory calls up a recipe I either look at the cookbook I pubished and hope it's there or search online. And the worst is I'm building a new collection almost as big. Bon Appetit, Southern Living, the NYT cooking column--are are siren calls for me. Cooking is a way of life. I feel another cookbook coing on.

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  26. I have three file boxes of family recipes, his and mine, but his takes up no space at all, because his physicist
    -engineer-tech librarian mother only cooked four things: meringues, meringues with chocolate chips, crockpot chicken with peas and tomatoes, and german pressed and cut-out cookies that tasted like communion wafers and stuck to the roof of your mouth, like the kind in church. Mine are all great, okay mostly all, especially the French, and one Irish, maybe Scottish, recipe for lamb stew passed down through the generations, international and indigenous. I have them on 3x5 cards in three recipe boxes. Box #1 has the place of honor up front for my mother-in-law's recipes.

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  27. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary!! I love following authors, especially Rhys Bowen.

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