Recipe Organization -- computer
For a story for the Houston Chronicle, I'm interested in how people organize recipes, specifically on the computer. What software do you like? Why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of organizing favorite recipes on computer? Do you keep stuff online in recipes boxes at various websites or...? What are the important considerations for cooks who want to transfer paper recipe collections to their computers? If you organize your recipes the old-fashioned way (binders? 3 by 5 cards, etc.), what makes you stick with those systems?
I sort of do what javaandjazz does. I have a master folder on my (Windows) desktop labeled "FOOD." Inside it I have a whole bunch of food related folders that range from "Meats" to "Restaurant Menus" and more. Much more. One of the folders is labeled "Recipes." And when it began getting too tiresome to go through the growing list, then I set up subfolders for different kinds of recipes. Desserts. Beef. Seafood. Asian. Turkish. Well, you get the idea. Some recipes are saved in Word format (only if they have pictures), some are Word Pad (.doc), and some are just links to recipes on the web.
My comuter does a fantastic job of alphabetizing. The folders work just fine. Who needs a software program to store recipes? And I sure don't want to be caught without my recipes because I stored them on someone ese's website and their site is down. Once or twice a year I do copy the whole shebang to a CD and file it just in case.
This is my method too except as I add a new recipe I also print it out to put in a hard copy binder. All my recipes are converted to the same Word format so the binder has a consistent cookbook look (must be the graphic designer training I've had or maybe I'm O/C). Never thought of doing the CD backup. Will do that today. Typesetting all those recipes again would be a huge pain should the unthinkable happen!
Once I have a tried and true recipe, whatever its source, I put it into a database (filemaker) so that I have a search-able record (by ingredient, category, or title) of things that I know I like and with my changes/additions. This is handy, because when friends ask for a recipe I can print it for them. I also keep a binder with all the recipes, sorted, printed out, in. That is what I cook from. I make changes/improvements as I cook, and about once a year I go through and make sure the computer records match actual practice. After 30 odd years of cooking, this db is up to about 240 recipes.
New recipes are kind of a hodgepodge of storage methods. If I am pretty sure I will make the recipe, I tend to print it out (from websites like Cook's Illustrated or epicurious) or clip it out from the newspaper (rare) or flag the magazine or cookbook in some way. If my interest is more casual, I might bookmark the site or copy it into a word doc to try later. Then I try them as I have time or the ingredients on hand. If I don't try them within a year I tend to toss them. So many recipes, so little time....
I've recently started using gmail to organize my recipes.
I set up a gmail account specifically for managing my recipes and I copy and paste each recipe (along with the link if it's a good resource) into its own "email" with the subject line containing the category: appetizer, salad, chicken, meat, etc and the name of the dish. Gmail has a great search function too so once in a while, I'll just search for a specific item (i.e., artichokes, chicken thighs, etc) and pow. All recipes with that ingredient pop right up.
I simply use the Memo function on my Palm phone. I input recipes on my computer, then synch the Palm phone, then -- I always have all my recipes with me, wherever I go, including the market, so I can whip it out and check ingredient needs if I decide to make something while in the market.
When in the Memo function, I just start the recipe with a Category name that I choose, like meat, poultry, fish, sides, desserts, then list the recipe title. So everything lists alphabetically, by category.
If I need to, just print one out.