Almost every night I ask myself the same question: Should I print this recipe out or look at it on my iPad? I might be fighting the future, but at least for right now, I’m taking the old-fashioned route. It’s hard copies for me.
I subscribe to a number of food magazines; I also read a number of food blogs. I look up recipes in my cookbooks; I also look up recipes on Epicurious.
In the five months since I’ve had my iPad, I’ve used it on a regular basis. There are a few downsides: You might get the screen dirty with your grubby greasy fingers; you have to turn it back on if it has been dormant for a while; and it’s hard to get the entire recipe on the screen at one time.
The thing that has frustrated me the most, however, is there isn’t a natural, easy-to-use library. I save recipes I like and might want to use in the future to Instapaper, but Instapaper doesn’t format recipes well and they are hard to read. I also find myself jumping between Instapaper and my Epicurious app trying to locate recipes I remember liking and saving.
Over the holidays I did an electronic vs. hard copy test. To prepare the Thanksgiving meal, I only used my iPad. I found myself working slower than I would have liked. I was paranoid about spills, and in general just didn’t feel like a working kitchen was the place of an electronic device. (Yes, I’ve heard of the Chef Sleeve. I haven’t tested it yet, but I was reticent to spend another $20.)
For Christmas, I printed out every single recipe beforehand. It felt comforting knowing I could just grab the recipes when I needed them. They were easier to share and pass around, and easier to read. I know I was more calm during the cooking rush.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I prefer the old-fashioned print-it-out system. I’m sure that will change in the future, but for now, I’m staying old-school.
Now, the key question: How do you organize and store all the recipes you clip and print out?
The categories in my cooking binder: Appetizers, soups, salad/veg, pasta, seafood, chicken (I should really change that to poultry), lamb, pork, beef and holidays (for season-specific foods).
Here’s my system: When I see a new recipe I want to try, I print it out and transfer it to the front of the binder. I’ll clip recipes from magazines and put them in the binder, too, so I don’t accumulate pounds of magazines on my shelves. Then, when I’m looking for inspiration, I’m reminded of recipes I want to test. Once I’ve cooked with it and like it, I file the recipe in its designated section. I try to clean out my binders every year so they don’t get overly stuffed.
My one exception to the magazine recipe rule is regarding Cook’s Illustrated. CI is a fantastic magazine with great recipes. Unfortunately, it costs extra to subscribe to their website. I wanted a way to remember recipes I saw and liked. I also didn’t want to tear up the magazine – I wanted to build a library that I could reference in the future. Instead I placed a lined sheet of paper at the front of each section in my binder. When I see an enticing new chicken, pork or bread recipe, I simply write down the recipe name, page number and issue number. I cook much more frequently from CI recipes now that I have this system.
Before I used binders to organize my recipes I had everything stuffed in a giant accordion folder. It was a lot of work to sort and organize everything, but I was so much happier once I had all the recipes stored cleanly away. I save countless minutes by not having to go digging for recipes, and its easier to remember new favorites that I want to make again.