When I began my adventures in recipe documentation, I initially had an idea of working it up in the form of the all-too-common 365-day cooking challenge. A modern, popular approach to challenging yourself on a daily basis, people out there are challenging themselves to be happy, to cook, to photograph, to live life to the fullest! I wasn’t quite in the mood to jump into that particular boat. To be honest, I can barely keep up with the challenge that is motherhood some days, much less load my days with yet another challenging task!
So I decided to go at my own pace: enjoying it, having fun in the kitchen, and trying my best to keep it interesting. So far, it has worked out wonderfully, and my family has been so supportive and extremely motivating. We share recipes & ideas to try out, and they are VERY patient when it comes to my food photography, which has to be done right at that moment when dinner is served. I have a newly-found greater appreciation for my small, very patient family.
Back in the day, our grandmothers kept their recipes in small notebooks, shared by hand, passed around from one household to the next. I can still remember my own grandmother’s notebook, greasy pages stained with blotches of food and smeared ink…which then turned into binders in many a housewife’s organized home. And of course, no kitchen could be complete without the always-present cookbook collection. A shelf, somewhere in the kitchen (if only for decorating purposes) – and sure to be included in any kitchen design – where we found the classics standing proudly side-by-side: Betty Crocker, the Joy family, & Julia Child; and more recently Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, & Emeril. International & ethnic, professional, single-subject, community, & chef cookbooks have all successfully made their way onto bookstore shelves worldwide. However, like with all paper items today, a new & more instant trend has come to town.
Today’s generation doesn’t have a cookbook shelf in their kitchen. We’ve gotten used to Pinterest and Google letting us know how to find the recipe for whatever ingredient we have in the kitchen. No planning is even necessary, no looking through the pages to finding the recipe of the day and making a grocery list. Tell Google what’s in your fridge and pantry, and I can assure you there will be a recipe for whatever three ingredients you find. I became one of those people. I got rid of all my cookbooks, and began collecting pins. Recipes I should try, recipes I tried, recipes that looked lovely, recipes to impress, recipes for the kids, recipes for the husband, recipe for the girls…one word can describe it: OVERWHELMING. How can you even do one simple thing when you are too busy looking through the million ways to make it?
I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and the single worst part of it all was knowing exactly what I wanted and not knowing which of the 7,256 results on Pinterest were actually the one recipe I wanted. So I went back. I turned back time. I found myself asking my mother to send me snapshots of that one recipe in her beloved Betty Crocker binder (2000 Edition) – nuggets, crepes, and sweet & sour sauce are the best! But finally, I got myself my own traditional cookbook: The Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition, and I got myself some old school cooking index cards: 1975 Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library. Best-sellers, fundamental resources with many of the most beloved recipes…I needed that.
I have to say, it’s comfortable & cozy, traditional. I will always draw inspiration from my beloved Tasty and anything anyone might send me for that matter. And I will always be excited to try new recipes & new ingredients, from new cultures, with new technologies. But I will not forget that everything has a past, a present, and a future…and embracing the whole spectrum of time in history rounds up what makes knowing about a certain art much more than just being able to do it. We learn through practice, but we also learn through education. And I know I love to read up on anything and everything I can, so let me know what international recommendations you might have, and I would love to try it out in my tiny kitchen!