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Aug 8, 2011 05:25 PM

Your recipes--do you feel ownership?

I'm in the middle of taking recipes I've collected, and transferring them to Gmail, using their label system, in order to have the collection all together and, well,--- collected. Even though I've not baked much in a long time I find that I want to collect my old baking recipes. I feel they are 'mine' in some way, or perhaps that are part of 'my' collection of recipes. Perhaps they represent some way I felt about how I cooked for my family.

At any rate I wonder if how I feel about my little collection is typical. Do you treasure your recipes? Have you collected them, or simply gathered them? Do they have meaning for you beyond simply being a recipe you cooked a few times a decade or so ago?

How did you keep your recipes 10 years ago? 20 years ago? 40 years ago?

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  1. I haven't taken on transferring my methods to one collection, but I do have recipes I started collecting over twenty years ago. (I'm in my early forties.) I don't really feel that they are mine, but rather that they do reflect on me and my changing diet, lifestyle, preferences, oh, so many aspects of my personality and history. I even have some of my grandmothers (on both maternal and paternal sides)and maternal grandfather's on index cards in boxes, or clippings stuck into cookbooks. My grandad even copied out recipes into a book, including some of his mother's, as well as many recipes from when he worked as a candy maker during the Great Depression. I don't eat much candy, but those are precious to me, perhaps because they are so old, or because they represent something to me.

    So, to your other question, my collection is in lots of formats, none of them digital yet. I've written recipes out on cards, like my grandmothers did, and then moved on to notebooks. I started pasting recipes into books sometime in my twenties when my life got filled with working more than forty hours a week. Now I don't bother to save recipes I haven't made several times. I have a folder of recipes I have yet to try, as well as bookmarks on the 'puter. But, I don't save near as much as I did when younger. There's just so much available online now, it seems redundant. But, I haven't let many in the collection go, either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: amyzan

      Same age as you and same deal here...I had the recipe cards in books with plastic sleeves. Recent project is storing "keepers" in a large binder with sleeves for each recipe. My "gotta try it" file gets fatter and fatter as each week rolls by...nevermind what is stored on my PC and in my e-mailbox. How lucky you are to have a handwritten book from your grandfather. I love handwritten recipes as a signature/reminder of the person they came from.

      1. re: kattyeyes

        I recently found a small book of my grandma's handwritten recipes (mostly desserts involving 9 eggs, a cup of heavy cream 2 pounds butter and a pound of sugar, the bulk culled from the Ladies Home Journal circa 1935) I scanned it page by page and reassembled it as one multi-page PDF. It was sort of faded so while tweaking the contrast in photoshop it was a treat to find a satiric piece entitled "How to Cook a Husband"

    2. No ownership at all ... the internet (now, books before) is my recipe collection!!!

      I don't write down recipes, I steal and borrow from a couple of reference cookbooks, blog, online recipes, ... I inspire myself from restaurant food I tasted or from TV shows.

      With some very, very, very few exceptions all the food I ever made have already been done (probably better) a gazillion time by countless cooks of all calibers.


      1. I still keep a card file just as I have for sixty years. I did make cookbooks for my children with recipes they grew up with, just printing them out and having them bound on a spiral at Kinko's, with plastic covers. Many of the recipes do have memories associated with them. I love sharing them and passing them along (or tossing them out into cyberspace where I hope someone finds them and loves using them as I have).

        1. Not really. If someone wants to copy a recipe that I use, so be it.

          The recipe does not make the food.

          The most critical component of any recipe (of all cooking for that matter) is *you*.

          1. My general feeling is that a good dish can never really be summed up as a grocery list.
            I have no problem sharing any recipe I have, which is usually scrawled on an index card or piece of note-paper, or nestled somewhere in my scattered brain.
            If you can pull off a great dish, then good on you. Technique turns out to be a much bigger player than you would guess at first.
            Funnily enough, when I asked a legendary BBQ pitmaster how her brisket was being prepared (for dietary concerns), she freely told me what the recipe was. I don't think she was concerned about the competition stealing her secret (it was just salt and pepper).