Saturday, October 08, 2011

Cooking is all about the right tools.

I decided it was time to finish the recipe binder project that I started before we moved. The task was too daunting to finish at that time so I saved it until I knew I could devote 100% of my full attention to it. Yeah, I procrastinated.

I love to collect recipes, it's just a shame that I don't cook. I've always thought I might cook more if my recipes were in order. Just like I'm convinced that I could be a gourmet chef if I had me a big Viking stove and a Sub-Zero fridge like this one.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure if I had that fridge I could crank out one darn fine grilled cheese sandwich. Alas, it is not meant to be. So I'll be happy with my recipes neatly arranged in my repurposed binder.

I got the binder as a gift when I graduated from high school, uh, 27 years ago. It was a photo album that had those magnetic photo pages in it. I did use it as a photo album for a long time before I learned that magnetic photo pages will eventually eat up your photos over time. I removed the pictures, tossed the pages and let the album sit dormant for several years. It's covered with a pretty fabric, I couldn't just toss it.

I gathered up my recipes which were crammed into an over stuffed recipe box, an old school folder, one of my many junk drawers, and countless other nooks and crannies that I used to shove stuff in before I got all organized.  

Some of these recipes are family favorites but most of them I have collected with the intention of trying them but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Since I started this project during the Big Clean Sweep of 2011 before we moved, I didn't have time to do more than basically sort everything into categories. 

I used page protectors and index tab sheets that I already had on hand. I started out using a different binder but soon saw that it wasn't big enough. That's when I switched to the pretty floral one.

I used my well loved Brother PT-65 Label Maker (which is no longer available but there's newer model) to categorize my recipes. I knew I'd probably have to break them down further later but this helped me to get them sorted for the time being.

After I had each recipe in its appropriate category, I shoved them all into sheet protectors (one or two per category) and shelved the binder for about 6 months. I knew I needed to look at each recipe to see if I still wanted to keep it but that would have to wait until after we moved.

So...we moved. I pulled out my binder and read through each and every recipe to determine its chances of ever being made. Some of them came off product packages that don't even exist anymore so I tossed them. I also tossed those that called for ingredients that are hard to find or that I will likely never use for anything else. I don't like anise and will never buy it so why do I have a recipe for anise cookies? I'll never buy saffron, I don't care how pretty it is, so I chunked the saffron rice recipes. I also tossed the ones that looked like they would take more than 30 minutes to prepare because realistically I will never invest that much time into a meal. Unless it's a crock pot meal. I can work that crock pot like nobody's business. You toss stuff in it in the morning, forget about it all day, then eat it in the evening. I love my crock pot.

After all the purging here is what I ended up with.  I covered my index pages with sheets of pretty cardstock to make them sturdy. And pretty.

The cardstock was 12 x 12 so I had to cut it down to make it fit the 8-1/2 x 11 index pages. I used some of the scraps I trimmed off each sheet to make new tabs.

I would love to have my recipes all printed out on matching pretty paper but that will never happen. That's a time investment I'm not willing to make, plus I just can't get rid of a recipe that's in my grandmother's handwriting.

So instead of all matchy-matchy, I went for more of an old school scrapbook look. Some recipes take up a full page but I was able to glue several small ones to a single sheet of computer paper before slipping it into its sheet protector. I did try to put 'like' things together to make them easier to find within each category.

At the back of the binder I put some pocket folders that I had so I could slip in recipes that I'm too lazy to file right then. 

To celebrate my recipe organization I made San Francisco Pork Chops last night. They were very good. I can't remember where I found the recipe but it might have been from the Crock Pot Girls. Give it a try:

2 Tbs EVOO
4 1" thick boneless pork chops
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbs packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs water
Serve with mashed taters or rice

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chops & brown 1-2 minutes on each side until golden. Place chops in crock pot. Add garlic to drippings in skillet until lightly golden. Add soy sauce, broth, brown sugar & red pepper flakes. Cook & stir until sugar has dissolved. Pour over chops.

Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.

To make the gravy, remove chops from the crock pot. Mix together cornstarch & water. Whisk it into the sauce then return chops to crock pot.  Cook on high for an additional 30 min-1 hour.

I served mine with mashed potatoes and asparagus.


Jenni said...

That was quite a task! Looks wonderful...and VERY organized......and now to cook! LOL.....I laugh because I am a little like you say you are.....collect the recipes and then don't use them.I am trying very hard to change!

Etcetorize said...

Looks great! I'd love for you to share this at my linky party, open later tonight: ~

Shannon Green said...

Thanks Jenni and Etcetorize...I'll try to remember to stop by your linky party!

Honey at 2805 said...

This is quite an organizational project, but you must be really happy with it and no more searching!

Thanks for linking to Potpourri Friday. I appreciate your participation!

very merry vintage style said...

I am a recipe collector too... Good for you getting your binder set up. The pork chop recipe sounds yummy! Thanks for linking up to Share the Love Wednesday; hope you'll be back this week!

Sherry said...

Oh, you are so organized. That looks wonderful! Thank you for linking up with Home Sweet Home!