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Jun 24, 2010 02:34 PM

Your own personal cookbook.

There are a lot of websites out there these days that allow you to publish your own book privately. I finally decided to compile all of my favorite recipes into my own personal cookbook. No more searching through multiple books for inpiration or "that one recipe" or finding a dusty tome and wondering why I bought it in the first place. No more crumpled, stained computer print outs that get thrown away either. Just all of my favs, all in one place. So, here is the question. If you could publish your own collection of recipes, for your own personal use only, which recipes would you include? What are the essentials to have?

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  1. Good Lord, there would literally be hundreds. And they're all essential.

    1. Not to avoid your question (notice whenever anybody says that they're about to avoid your question?) but I wouldn't do it. Certainly not for my own use during my lifetime.

      My collection of recipes is ever-expanding. Sure, I could put everything I have as of today in a book and get it printed, but then what about the recipes I find or create tomorrow or next week or next year?

      So instead of committing this ever-expanding group of recipes to paper, I keep them on my hard drive. When I find a recipe I like on the internet, I just cut and paste it into a text file. If it's from a book, I retype it if it's short or OCR it if it's longer. (Needless to say, this could cause all kinds of copyright problems if I were to publish a book.)

      When it's time to cook, I either print out what I need or put the laptop on the kitchen table. My dream kitchen is going to have a flip-down touchscreen under the cabinet (not just for recipes, but for pulling music off the server or the internet and maybe even controlling things like the lights). But even with the fairly low-tech setup we've got now, every recipe I'm interested in is available, and the list of possible goodies is never out of date.

      11 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Alright, I'm willing to show my ignorance. What's OCR?

        I have my little notebook computer on the adjacent peninsula so as not to trash it. Love that.

        1. re: c oliver

          Optical Character Recognition. You scan the page and the computer turns the image into text.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Ah, I've done that years ago and it sucked. I'm sure it's good now.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I used to have a speccial OCR scanner when I was a working writer. Didn't like it much. There were to primary problems. First was the amount of typos because it didn't "see" clearly and "read" an "r" as an "n" and things like that. Second, it could saved in a graphics format which meant could only add notes in a graphics program. So I think it's in my electronic junk box somewhere. It's a good idea though. i wonder if they work better now? But life is ood without one.

            2. re: c oliver

              I had to bite too but not before asking my computer savvy son who didn't know either. YEAH, not the only dumb person in the family, < KOC

                1. re: Rmis32


            3. re: alanbarnes

              This is definitely a good way but I like having a tangible book in my hands. Something i can write in the columns of and touch and feel.

              1. re: AmandaCA

                I know what you mean. I would rather flip pages than scan a screen.

              2. re: alanbarnes

                I do the same thing, except I scan from books into a .pdf file. My laptop's in my kitchen so it's always handy plus I keep a copy on this handy little portable drive my husband got me so my "recipe book" is backed up and can travel with me. I use to print everything out and keep it in giant notebooks but it got too unwieldy. I can always make notations and changes to the individual files.

              3. Boy I know what you mean. Being a collector cookbooks and a myriad of clipped recipes, I often wonder also why did I buy this or clip that? Do our taste buds change?

                8 Replies
                1. re: iL Divo

                  I don't know. I am always on the hunt for the best version of anything. I probably have over 20 different chocolate cake recipes but unless I baked them all at the same time, I wouldn't remember which one was THE BEST you know? I think also something can look good but in comparison to others, it doesn't?

                  1. re: AmandaCA

                    chocolate cake: my moms husband remembered his favorite from his youth, as made by his grandmother. it was a mashed potato chocolate cake. I've sought out recipes for it and never found one. I imagine it lent moisture and maybe a bit of tart/sour/tang to the cake, but he'd never been helpful in telling me what was so good about it so I never did know. I should make a batch of mashed potatoes sans the pepper and try one from scratch I guess.

                    I did finally find the perfect [to me] chocolate chip recipe finally. Liked the looks of it, love the originator of it, and after tweaking it just a bit with what I thought would improve it, I'd add it to my cookbook in a heartbeat.

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      There may be a recipe for this in a Farm Journal book or possibly on Taste of Home, it sounds like their kind of thing. I'll look at the FJ books I have at home.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        thank you I'll stand by with fingers crossed.
                        because honestly, if I did attempt one, would I boil then mash the potatoes or would I rice them and leave them sans anything else, or would I make them and add the cream and butter plus salt, I have no idea and he couldn't help, too young when last eaten to have known much about cooking.

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          iL Divo, I was curious about the idea of a mashed potato chocolate cake, so I googled it -- "mashed potato chocolate cake" (in quotes) -- and more than 6300 links came up. Sounds like you just might be able to find a recipe, no? Or did I miss something?

                          ETA Just saw that you got some help on this below. Posted too fast!

                      2. re: iL Divo

                        il Divo

                        I found this in The White Trash 88...of course paraphrased

                        oven 350 degrees

                        Make 1 cup mashed potatoes (unseasoned). These need to be hot for the recipe. Cream 2 cups of sugar with 2/3 cup Crisco until light. Add eggs 1 at a time to sugar Crisco mixture, beating after each addition. Mix potatoes and 1 T vanilla into the mixture. Sift together 2 cups flour, 3 T baking powder,1 T cinnamon, 1 T nutmeg, 1/2 T salt, 3/4 cup cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the Crisco mixture alternately with 1/2 c milk. Mix in 1 c nuts. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

                        1. re: jill kibler

                          Jill, are you the bomb or what? Never heard of White Trash cookbook. Where'd ya get that? I'm looking it up online right now. How many eggs Jill?

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            There's this too, there are quite a few recipes that come up if you Google recipe mashed potato chocolate cake:
                            I myself wouldn't want to eat anything with a T of nutmeg in it, if by T tablespoon is meant - that amount borders on the psychedelic ;-)

                  2. i tend to print recipes from the internet and store them in a plasctic sleave in a ring binder.

                    works well for me and ive got quite a nice thick binder with many many recipes.

                    the only drawback is trying to keep a logical order to them however so far i havent had any major dramas.. and sometimes searching through the folder reminds you of a great recipe youve forgotten!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bdosa

                      Indeed. :)

                      My solution to the organization problem was to go chronological. It became kind of biographical after a few years.

                      1. re: bdosa

                        I do the same thing and write notes on the sides. It's constantly changing as I update what I've done and how it's been. I figure it's there if my kids ever want to replicate what I've done, at some point. It's constantly increasing in size. I print them out and keep them in a napkin holder, first, until I've made them several times and decide it's a keeper. I go through the napkin holder periodically and weed through it.

                        I've also noticed that it's almost all sweets. I think it's more that you can wing dinner but am more precise when it comes to cakes, etc., you want more precision--not that I'm mostly a sweets person. But, I have an entire section devoted to chocolate chip cookies, one to brownies.

                        1. re: bdosa

                          my dilemma is that people that know me or have heard along the line somewhere that I cook [A LOT] come out of the woodwork and ask me for recipes. I can sit down and compose one for them but then I always wondered if I forgot something in the ingredient column and the timing of the recipe to be complete. ie. did I mention to soften the corn starch in the liquid or just assume they knew that? stuff like that. plus then I would like to exactly make it as I wrote it so I could see how it turned out. but without asking them for the copy I wrote out for them, I'm without it and much of a mind also :))

                          1. re: bdosa

                            I also use a ring binder. They used to be organized chronologically -- i.e., most recently clipped recipe at the back but that became unwieldy as the collection grew. If I was looking for inspiration on what to do with some particular ingredient (chicken, salmon) or some particular component of the menu (app, dessert), I had to page through the whole binder.

                            I've now organized the binder alphabetically, using an almagam of key words -- sometimes an ingredient, sometimes a meal course -- similar to how hard-copy books are organized. So, all the "beef," "chicken," "pork" recipes are collected together, as are all of the "desserts," "dips," "salads," or "vegetable" courses. Of course there are sometimes judgments as to where to file -- e.g., does a seafood salad go in the "salad" or "seafood" portion -- but the books not that hard to navigate. Makes it much simpler to find things.

                            I prefer to have hard copy pages that I can pull out of a binder when cooking, rather than work from my laptop. It's just easier to find room for the recipe near my workspace, and I don't have to worry about a spill.

                            1. re: bdosa

                              I do that too but only for my tried and true recipes I'll make over and over. A recipe has to be really good to make it into the book.

                              It can come into the kitchen with me while my desktop can't.

                              1. re: karykat

                                I print the recipe off the computer because, especially the first time, I need it close by. If it's a clunker, I just discard the copy. Otherwise it makes it into the book.

                            2. I tend to think that this is what the blog is for: accessible from anywhere, shareable, includes photos of the in-between development. Helps with the narcissism. ;-)

                              Which recipes to include? The successful ones, the ones that generate the most discussion, radish jello, stuff with butter in it.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: wattacetti

                                I wish someone would explain a blog to me. I mean, I do have one set up by a main blogging stream, but have no idea how to use it. I go in there to get a recipe for someone that I've written and can't find it although it says it's there. frustrating or again, dumb on my part.

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  That's outside of the Chowhound scope of things, but I can discuss offline if you like.