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How do you keep track of all of your cookbook recipes?

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I have quite the cookbook collection.....and growing, thanks to Chowhound! I read cookbooks cover to cover. My problem is that I find recipes that I want to make someday and then when someday arrives I can't remember where I read the recipe. For instance, I've been waiting for my CSA to deliver tomatillos for this awesome recipe..I couldn't wait. Well, now I have my tomatillos and I can't remember where I read the recipe. Any good ideas for categorizing recipes from my cookbooks? An alphabetical journal maybe?

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  1. Many of us belong to eatyourbooks.com. You enter all your cookbooks, and when you type in a dish or an ingredient, a list of all the recipes in all your cookbooks for that dish or ingredient appears. Search this site for EYB or eatyourbooks, and you will find many cookbook lovers raving about the site.

    18 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I am now doing EYB for my books, and Pepperplate.com for all my print outs, scribbled notes and family recipes.

      1. re: smtucker

        Me too (as a recent convert to pepperplate...)

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I am a recent convert as well. But it might very well be the missing link for me.

          1. re: smtucker

            Thanks to you, TDQ and JoanN I now have another way to take up my time... Pepperplate... which my brain wants to call Peppermill.

            1. re: smtucker

              I agree. I'm am as excited about pepperplate as I was about EYB when I learned about it.

              EYB is great for keeping track of your cookbooks, keeping detailed notes about your cookbooks and the recipes therein, and for searching your "indexed" cookbooks (or any or all books that EYB has indexed, even the ones you don't own) by ingredient or recipe or whatever. But, EYB doesn't actually pull recipes from the cookbooks. It does have a feature where you can import (ie., type in) your "personal recipes" , but it's not nearly as slick as pepperplate's. The only advance to doing so in EYB is that you could then do an ingredient search of all of the recipes in your indexed cookbooks as well as any "personal" recipes you put in.

              Pepperplate enables you to import (or input by hand), store, and search all of your recipes. You can choose recipes from your personal recipe inventory and plop them onto a calendar so you can plan your meals for the day, week, or month (or for Thanksgiving or whatever). From there you can generate a shopping list that is even customizable based on the aisles of the grocery store you shop at.

              Pepperplate also has a "menu" feature that I haven't played with yet...

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                My first foray into playing with the menu portion of pepperplate will be Thanksgiving, and the surrounding meals. This is the meal that I used family recipes more than any in my books, so it will be the perfect test for me.

                I am already wishing that I could have more than one store for building my shopping list. For Thanksgiving, I usually need to hit five different places!

                1. re: smtucker

                  I think you should email them and tell them that. I already don't like that when you add a menu to your calendar, it isn't clickable. I might have to email them about that.

                  In the meantime, pepperplate allows you to create custom aisles. If your five different stores are specialty markets (ie., you go one place for meats, one for cheeses, one for bakery, one for produce, etc.) you might be able to create "custom aisles" for each of those stores. E.g. one "aisle" is Meat Market counter, another aisle might be Meat Market fridge case. The next aisle might be "CHeesemonger". The next aisle might be Whole Foods produce, and then "Whole Foods" bulk, and then the next aisle might be Penzey's. And so on.

                  But, if you're going to get some produce at store "a" and some at store "b" and some meats at store a and some at store b, then I don't think my work around will work. I think it will only work if you only shop for certain categories of food at certain stores.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Oh, that is a dream I can only imagine! But, I could create a custom aisle for poultry, and another one for sausage. Maybe.

                    1. re: smtucker

                      Sadly, if I understand the way the custom grocery list works, I don't think you can do that. I think that the lowest building blocks are the "pepperplate groups" on the "customize" shopping page. There's only one category for "meat and poultry" so if you shop for poultry at one place and sausage at another, I think you're not going to be able to use my idea.

                      :( Bummer.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        No, I think your idea works. I created custom aisles for almost everything - three for Greenmarket produce, meat, and other stuff, one for the Indian store, and a bunch of other categories that I prefer to theirs. The software automatically sorts items into their built in categories, but they are easy to move to the custom ones, and then it learns where to put them. Works great for me so far!

                        I'll be trying out the menu feature for thanksgiving also.

                        1. re: Westminstress

                          Oh, fantastic! Maybe I need to play with it more.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: Westminstress

                            Westminstress, can you create your own categories, too, or just your own aisles? For instance, could you create a category for "beef" and for "pork" instead of having just one for "meat and poultry"?

                            ~TDQ

                        2. re: smtucker

                          smtucker, I think I've figured out how to get this customized shopping list to work. Have you been able to play with it to figure out how you add different "custom" aisles for different stores to maximize Thanksgiving efficiency?

                          For instance, I just added a recipe that calls for diced onion. Pepperplate automatically puts onions in produce, but I want to use frozen diced onion. When I went to the shopping list and hovered over onions, I was given the option to "edit, move, or delete". So I clicked on Move and a listing of aisles came up and I just moved it to a custom aisle I'd previously created "Lunds (my local grocery store) Frozen Foods". I can see you can edit the item, too. So, I can go ahead and insert the words "frozen diced onions" I guess...

                          ~TDQ

              2. re: smtucker

                What's pepperplate?

                1. re: Splendid Spatula

                  It's a free recipe database and meal planning site that allows you to easily (with one or two clicks) import recipes from participating sites including chow, epicurious, allrecipes, martha stewart etc. and to manually type or cut and paste other recipes into the site. Then you can produce a meal calendar and shopping lists. Everything is easily editable including the recipes, the shopping list and your meal calendar. It will scale your recipes up and down for you, too.

                  http://www.pepperplate.com

                  ~TDQ

              3. re: roxlet

                EYB allows bookmarks on recipes too.

                1. re: lilham

                  Yes, and even if a cookbook has not yet been indexed a note as to the page number of a particular recipe via the bookmark is a handy reminder...

                2. re: roxlet

                  And a third on EYB, that is an invaluable resource. They've got a mobile version now, too.

                3. I have three ring binders. I actually make copies of recipes on our little printer/copier/scanner and put them in plastic sheets in the binders. I have a separate binders for magazine recipes and tried and true internet recipes. Every so often I go through them and clear out the recipes I won't be making again. It works for me and the idea came from my dad who does the same!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tiffeecanoe

                    Same system, but I think I need to do some 'weeding out' as the binders are getting very heavy with all the plastic sleeves.

                    1. re: ElsieB

                      I'll make a copy (usually cut and paste) of any recipe I want to try. It only graduates /is rewarded with it's own plastic sheet protector when I've made it twice (this indicates keeper status for us).

                      For the cookbooks, I use post it notes at the top, with a brief note about the recipe : there's a Pepin cookbook that has markers for Black Bean, Lamb leg, and Black pepper bread. I use those three recipes so often that the markers save time.

                  2. Wonder if there's any commercial website that allows you to buy certain recipes from cookbooks. Not all recipes in a cookbook are fool-proof. Sometimes there are recipes which guarantee standing ovation but I don't want to buy the whole cookbook.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: pearlyriver

                      I would seriously doubt that anyone would do that -- there would be little benefit to publishing a book if that were the case. Some web sites like seriouseats.com and leitesculanaria.com occasionally will feature recipes from books, but they're doing the choosing not you. And many bloggers, like smittenkitchen.com, will take a recipe from a book or newspaper and rework it.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        I had thought about that. But people used to opposed the idea of selling individual tracks from an album on Itunes, and now it's still going strong.

                        1. re: pearlyriver

                          I had the same initial thought (about the availability of single music tracks translating to recipes) and the closest I have ever seen is Google books.

                      2. re: pearlyriver

                        Try the library. :) We're in a spot financially right now that doesn't allow me to cookbooks whenever I'd like,so until dh is done with school again (May, yay!), I check out what the library has to offer!

                      3. I copy recipes I want to try and enter them in a notebook using the magnetic photograph pages.
                        If I like the recipe after trying it I add it to my collection, If not,, I trash it. This one notebook contains only untried recipes. The recipes I keep go into my favored recipe notebook/s.

                        1. Bookmarks? I don't try to remember in which books recipes are found. I'm heavily into the use of the indices of books. If I cut a recipe out of the newspaper it goes into a book with a similar recipe. I shelve my myriad of cookbooks and documents by genre.

                          Don't get the wrong idea, but I am a kitchen experimenter, not a trained chef. I belong to the "What if...?" school of cooking specializing in "Cucina impromptu", and I have an apron that states "I don't need a recipe...I'M ITALIAN." Mi dispiace, ma i miei antenati non erano italiani. Sono italiano per matrimonio."

                          1. You could also use Evernote to keep track of online recipes. It also features tags to categorize the recipes. The best bookmark software I've ever used.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pearlyriver

                              I'm a big fan of the Evernote apps as well, pearlyriver. All of them are terrific.

                            2. Thanks all for the information! I've indexed most of my cookbooks on EYB and more tomatillos arrived from my CSA this morning. I'll have to check out pepperplate next.

                              1. Tonight I added a few recipes that my daughter needed. [Yes, she needed my Asian Chicken stock recipe, STAT!] After entering, I used the share button, and sent her an email. The email included the recipe, and a link to view the recipe online AND [this is the exciting thing] she could IMPORT it into her pepperplate account. Now this is useful indeed.

                                1. Pepperplate peeps, what categories are you using? I keep thinking of new categories and it's super time consuming to go through all of my recipes and add new tags, so I thought I should get suggestions now before my list of recipes grow even larger:

                                  course: main, dessert, soup, side, etc.
                                  ethnicity:
                                  prep method: stove top, oven, no cook, crock pot, grill, wok, etc.
                                  time requirements: make ahead, marinate,soak, rest, cool, fast, elaborate
                                  other: one dish, freezer friendly,
                                  primary ingredient:
                                  recommended (if it's been recommended by someone but I haven't tried it yet)
                                  Holiday, entertaining,
                                  COTM,
                                  vegetarian, flexitarian (meaning, it has a meat element that can be added in or removed)
                                  to try

                                  ~TDQ

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Right now I'm categorizing by:
                                    Course
                                    Ethnicity
                                    Other (one dish meal)
                                    Primary Ingredient
                                    Holiday

                                    I'm taking baby steps...it can be so time consuming, but I'm glad to transfer recipes I've been filing in docs. Gives me a chance to edit and purge those I won't ever get to make, or those I've changed my mind about. Also, those recipes in UK weights & measures are being converted when entered.

                                    I will say I'm not setting shopping lists on the site because right now G is doing all the shopping. I list items on the shopping list he carries according to group such as all meat, then a group for produce, another for groceries, etc. He knows where to find things.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I am also using:
                                      Vegetarian
                                      To Try
                                      Holiday [though Thanksgiving is the only one]

                                      I like some of your ideas above.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Thanks, SMT. I also have the Vegetarian category, I forgot to list it above.

                                        Under the Holiday listing I have;
                                        Thanksgiving 2012
                                        Christmas Eve
                                        Christmas Day
                                        New Year's Eve
                                        New Year's Day 2013

                                      2. re: Gio

                                        Smart converting the UK measures. I haven't done that yet. But, I have been going back in after I make a recipe and making notes and/or tweaking them. So, maybe I should make a point of updating the measures after each British recipe I try.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Yes, I thought getting the conversions would expedite matters.

                                          The thing I'm having trouble with is getting the recipes to "stick" in the menu section. When I click on the NYE menu, for example, and type a recipe I will make that day it doesn't appear anywhere. The Add box simply sits there doing nothing.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I think first you have to add a recipe to a menu. Then you can go to the menus tab and add the menu to the calendar for Dec 31.

                                            Have you tried that.

                                            By the way, can you see this recipe and import it to your account? Does it show any of my name or any other identifying info?

                                            http://www.pepperplate.com/sharedreci...

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I can't see anything that identifies you on that recipe. All I see is:
                                              "Add this Recipe to your Pepperplate account." Then the recipe.

                                              OK, I'll try to add the NYE recipe to the calendar. Thanks.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Cool! I think we might be able to share recipes with each other this way if we already have them in our own pepperplate accounts. I wonder if the mods will allow it or it it's too similar to linking to your own blog...

                                                I added some more directions in a post below...

                                                ~TDQ

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              To add a recipe to a menu, and the menu to a planner

                                              Click on desired recipe in your recipe list
                                              Go to "create new menu" (on the right hand side) and type your menu name "NYE" then click "add"
                                              To add another recipe to this menu, click on desired recipe in your recipe list, then click on "menu" (on right hand side), find where it says "add this recipe to a menu" and click on the upside down carrot ^ to bring a drop down listing of your existing menus, select the menu NYE and your recipe is automatically added to that menu.

                                              To add the menu to the planner, go to the menus tab. Click on the calendar on the upper right hand side, use the arrows to scroll to Dec, click on Dec 31, then you click on the drop down menu that gives you the option to add it to the evening, morning, or midday, then click "save".

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thanks for all of that TDQ. I actually figured it out by looking on the right side of the recipe's page. There's the box for adding a recipe to a menu. Duh. My eyesight is so bad, even with reading glasses, I have the zoom really big...

                                                I do like having easy access to recipes I'm sure to use. I can now go from COTM or EYB to Pprplate to store.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Yep, COTM+EYB+Pepperplate is an awesome combo.

                                                  I'm glad you figured it out. It's not intuitive at all. The thing I'm having a problem with is saving a "scaled" recipe to a shopping list. So, doubling a recipe and have the shopping list show 16 ounces of salmon instead of 8... that sort of thing.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I hope the mods let us continue this side discussion... I do think it applies to the OP though.
                                                    To double a recipe click on the "2" on the scale. The recipe now has double the ingredient amounts of the original recipe... However I don't think you can "save" the altered amounts. At least I don't see it.

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Yeah, I don't see how to save the doubled recipe, either. I suppose if you always made double of a particular recipe you could double it, print it, then edit the original recipe and save it. That's kind of inefficient, though. At least in the short run.

                                                      ~TDQ