Thursday, January 9, 2014

Organized Hoarding

When I first got married I bought a stenographers notebook to write my favorite recipes in.  Over time that filled up and I progressed to a three ring binder.  When that filled up, I got another one, and separated the desserts into that.

The binder system works well because I can keep things more organized by putting recipes for certain ingredients, or types of dishes, together.  Salads, Soups, Chicken, Ground Beef, Crock Pot, etc.  In the dessert one, I not only put the recipes for certain types of things together, but I do it seasonally as well.  Rhubarb, Strawberries, Blueberries and Blackberries, Pumpkin, Zucchini. Chocolate and Lemon somehow don't quite know where to sit in that book so they landed in folders tucked inside the binder cover.

All this makes me sound rather organized, don't you think?  The thing is, I get a lot of women's magazines and when  I see a recipe I like, and I turn down the corner.  That makes them easy to find later, when I'm cleaning out the magazine pile, which happens every 3 to 6 months. Then if I haven't done so already, I pull out the page, if the recipe still interests me. Some of them get weeded out at that point, so that couple of months waiting period sometimes turns out to be a good thing. The bigger problem is that some times there is a magazine with so many good recipes in it, that I keep the whole thing rather than tear out so many pages.  Trying to remember just which book holds the recipe for spaghetti pie, or a certain cookie isn't easy.  The magazines piled up so quickly that it never occurred to me that I could have kept a master list of where to find favorites, like I do with my cook books.  For those I list the recipe and the book it's found in, right down to the page number, and keep it in my main binder. Maybe I'll have to resort to that when I get to the magazine part of this de-cluttering.  But then again, if I keep the magazines, I'm still not throwing out the clutter, right?

Another source of incoming recipes popped up when we got high speed internet, just a few years ago. With that came the ability to sign up for numerous newsletters.  Many of those come with recipes, or links to recipes. I'm always on the look out for something different, especially if it doesn't require me to go out and buy ingredients that aren't already a staple in my house.  I print off several new ones each week and add them to the growing pile.

I outgrew my binders, but I have a red file folder for recipes I want to make, and have not tried yet. The file got so thick that a couple of years ago I created some more files, with categories for Beef, Fish, Pork, Chicken, Pancakes and Muffins, and Pasta, and.....well, once again, I'm sure you get the idea.  One would think I'd be able to find the recipe I'm looking for.

But say I get my hands on some boneless chicken thighs.  I know I have recipes that call for those, and I'd love to find them at times like this, rather than have to do the de-boning myself some other time.  But when I have to sift through the piles to find the required recipe I generally give up and make some old standby.

It's only in recent years that I've had this problem. Last year, when I first thought I'd get this situation under control,  I even created sub folders within the Chicken folder, for Legs and Thighs, Breasts, with and without bones, etc.  But since I still have the tried and true recipes in the folders mixed in with the untried ones, that's not working out as well as I had hoped.  This year I'm going to try to put all the tested and approved recipes in the binders, and get the untested ones out of there. I'm going to get rid of duplicates, though finding 4 copies of one recipe, or even 4 different recipes for a similar dish actually lets me know I must really want to make that.  I'll test those ones as quickly as possible, and get rid of the duplicates, or copy cats.
I made my first stab at all this today.  I chose to start with the Pasta folder.  Maybe that wasn't wise as I kept finding things I wanted to make instead of recipes I didn't mind disposing of.  I did get rid of 20 and file 5 previously tested ones in the binder.  I thought this year, instead of copying out recipes onto lined paper, I'd simply glue them on.  After all, I do have an over abundance of glue in the house.  But the two recipes that were not already printed off the computer were on small pieces of paper, so I ended up copying them after all. So much for saving time with glue.

It was day one. I'm sure I'll get better at this as I go along. Hopefully I'll learn to be more ruthless quickly. If not, I'm likely to replace the few pieces of paper I'm throwing out with even more when I get to the magazines.

I've made a couple of new resolutions:  I will not resubscribe to any of the magazines this year, and I will not print off any new recipes (unless I'm actually going to make that dish that very day). I might even go so far as to cancel the newsletters if I find I can't resist.

Baby steps. One thing at a time. One day at a time. 


  1. Oh my word! That's a lot of recipes! Idon't envy you that task!

  2. Organizing paper is always the worst. How is it going this week? Make any good recipes?

    1. My energies have been diverted to computer files this week, for reason that will be explained in my next post. As for food, there is a flu bug in this house just now so we haven't been very hungry lately.

  3. Well, I dragged the box up and went through over half the pile of magazines ripping out yet more recipes. I have the same issue as you though. Some magazines just have too many good recipes. So there sits on the counter a stack of zines yet that I'm not sure what to do with. Life got in the way (sick little one) and the stack of magazines now sits accompanied by my even bigger stack of favorite cookbooks.

    I struggle with deciding which ones are the tried and true. I guess I need to decide what my prerequisites are. At least you have plenty of glue! ;o)