Saturday, June 23, 2012

To E or not to (recip-) E (-book)... that is the question

This morning, I took 5 carrier bags full of unwanted "stuff" to the charity shop, and another black bag went into the bin at the end of the farm road - woo hoo!

Wendy (no blog) left a suggestion to look at a blog called the Vivienne Files, and one link led to another, until I found myself at Courtney Carver's lifestyle de-cluttering hub:  Be More With Less.  She is also behind Project 333, a wardrobe-refining programme, which aims to get you down to living with only 33 items in your wardrobe for a 3-month period.  While I am not quite at this evangelical end of decluttering, I have really enjoyed reading through some of the posts. 

She has written some e-books on the subject... but I don't have an e-reader device.  There's the rub:  to declutter in the technological age you have to ditch paper in favour of electronics! 

But I am seriously considering my options.

I took a big pile of books to the charity shop.

My next de-cluttering target is my cookbook collection.
The view when standing on FL's chair, peering over

I can't actually get at my cookbooks unless I ask FL to get out of his chair, then pull it away from the corner so I can get in at the bookshelf. 
The shelf, FL's pill collection and the only place the aerial can get a TV signal when the trees are in full leaf!

We did try making a kitchen bookshelf, but it collapsed under the weight of such tomes as "The Passionate Vegetarian" by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, really). And in reality I maybe only use 5 or 10 recipes from each book. 

So I am looking at ways of making my go-to recipes more accessible.  I am thinking of photocopying all the ones I use and then putting them into some sort of loose-leaf folder, or pasting them into a notebook.

But I can see it would be just as easy to scan them and make them into a book using a web-based self-publishing solution... or subscribing to an online recipe database like Ziplist.  But I imagine this works best if you have an i-pad or similar.  Booting up the laptop and balancing it on the worktop while I cook sounds like a highly dangerous sport in this house!

So I am just wondering... what do YOU do?  How do you manage your recipe collection?  Or do you just enjoy having the books?  I  won't be ditching them all:  some are really beautiful!  But I know I don't need 27 cookbooks.

21 comments:

Laura said...

ah, cookbooks--we own 5 I think; with no children at home, having cooked for many years, and being vegetarian, we have settled into a general pattern of eating. We have a few favs for which we still need the actual recipe, but most cooking is done with a fixed number of techniques and a respect for the local/seasonal [if possible] ingredients. When we want to try something new, stuff seems to arrive: an email from the local produce store we support, a magazine article,mention by a friend. If we are cooking something new or in a new way we do an internet search, read a few recipes, jot down what we need to do and that is it. If it is a winner it is printed and goes into a binder..if not it is released back to the cybersea. The first step is deciding how you use your cookbooks..browsing, pretty pictures, recipes...hope some of this is useful.

Mags said...

I currently have 3 cookbooks, 2 about vegan cooking and 1 about gluten-free baking. I USED TO have about 30, which was nuts. About a year ago I copied out the recipes I used the most (and the ones I had meant to make but not got around to) onto large-ish index cards and donated the books to the library. Now they live in a cute little wooden box next to the toaster, sorted by course and main ingredient. When I cook a particularly successful dish I take a picture, print it off and stick that onto the blank side of the card. It works for me :)

Louise said...

My MIL put all of her recipes on to computer via word so I have a copy but I find it a bit frustrating as there isn't room in my kitchen for the laptop safely without putting it on the cooker or near the sink, so I email the recipes to my kindle and then I can follow it from there.

Aberdonian said...

*looks at shelves of cookbook* I just love cookbooks and cherish all the ones I have. I know I'll never cook everything that's in them but I love taking a pile to the couch or to bed and leaf through them for inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Crescent Dragonwagon. . . there's a name that brings back the '70s (shudder). The cutesy hippie name so annoyed me that I never actually read anything by her.
-- stashdragon

dottiedoodle said...

We use plastic folders with clear plastic pockets in them. Great for people (my husband) who like to cook on the book. But I have to confess, this is for recipes torn out of magazines - we still have 38 cookery books, after decluttering!

Anna said...

Manage it, what's that then??

http://vegfoodforthought.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/underestimation/

I'd rather revel in them, one section of my life I will NEVER 'declutter'!

.x.Helen.x. said...

I'm proper old-school. I have an A5 size binder, if I like a recipe i write it out by hand and file it in the binder. This means no more keeping a big book for one or two good recipes. And i get books at the library so i can try stuff out and write it in the binder if i like it.

Minnado said...

I am a sucker for a bit of decluttering - makes me believe I am in control temporarily. I recently found a book called Cut the Clutter by Cynthia Townley Ewer in the charity shop, I have been reading it and following a few ideas from it. I cleared out the cookery book cupboard using the question - have I used this book in the last year....now I am left with the books I use and like. My mum used to copy favourite recipes onto index cards and store in an alphabetized box. An old fashioned solution but one that works.

Scruffybadger said...

Wow you can email recipes to your kindle? Never knew that - it might be useful to understand so that I can organise my e recipes. However, I love my real books, and have just one kitchen cupboard shelf to store them - any additions require a one in one out policy. I can't get the same inspiration from e recipes as an old fashioned cook book & I love coming across previously used recipes marked by splashes & remnants of flour ....

LinB said...

I keep a shelf of cookbooks for light reading and inspiration. The recipes I use most I transcribed by hand into a blank book -- small and handy and easy to prop open while assembling (mostly) casseroles and cookies. Mostly cook just plain things, so hardly ever need recipes. I like to buy a cookbook as my souvenir of a place -- I like the local church or school fundraiser ones best. They often contain stories about the people who live in the area.

Maureen said...

I'm really stuffed then as I have around 120 cookbooks and that's half of what I had when I decluttered after me and an ex split 7 years ago. Perhaps the total may have gone up after I got married and my husbands books made it into the collection. I think a proper declutter is one of those things I dream of and know would be nice but until we both learn to let go of more of what we have then it's going to remain a very long, ongoing process. Doesn't help when I keep making new stuff :-)

Roobeedoo said...

Oh this is such a wonderful collection of comments! I love that everyone has their own approach to this issue: from revelling in the cookbooks because they are lovely books, to strict editorial cataloguing of the essentials! Today, I halved my collection of cookbooks, copying the odd few recipes I wanted to keep from the 14 volumes, which are destined for the charity shop. I have pasted my copies into an A4 notebook for future use - with plenty of pages left for when I get round to the other 13 books! And I have found lots I want to try out in the process - woo hoo!

Anna said...

ohh, which ones are you getting rid of? If any are vegetarian I'd love to see the titles if you wouldn't mind (and would of course offer recompense and postage costs) in case I've not got them in my collection yet (I do have The Passionate Vegetarian already!). Thank you!

Felicity from Down Under said...

You have only 27 cookbooks? I'm very impressed by your considerable restraint. I'm definitely in the far too many and always acquiring more category because, yes, we do actually collect them. We have shelves of cookbooks (maybe 150 or so) and most people probably think that excessive BUT I always think that if I've used only one recipe from each of them, it was worth having for that alone. It's true that some we use more frequently than others and I still refer to my collection of handwritten hand-me-down and "custom-fit take on old recipe that I have to write down or I'll forget what I did" recipes.

My experience suggests that the time for each recipe book waxes and wanes (fitness freakery and particular nutritional needs around endurance sports, for example, prompted purchase of some additions to the collection) but that they never truly go out of style. I like the idea of recipe books as souvenirs. Hm, hadn't thought of that!

Paola said...

Cookbook collection! Yes, I relate. I have just posted about decluttering this place, but my cookbook collection (about 30 books, and every edition of Australian delicious magazine, 110+ magazines) was sacrosanct. I read cookbooks when there is nothing else to read, or nothing I'd rather read. Every book is different, and every book earns it's place even if I don't cook a single recipe from it. I have donated cookbooks in the past if they don't delight me.

Lizzi said...

I have just counted the ones on the kitchen shelf - 48 and not including what will be beside my bed and dotted about in various bookshelves around the house.

I know I should do something about them - but I am not going to, so there.

Lynne said...

Ah, cookery books. I do own some, I don't actually use them, but I do own some! Taking them to the charity shop seems like a good idea! :)

The Foggy Knitter said...

My parents have an entire book case just for cookbooks, plus overspill on other bookcases. We have a collection going back into the 1940s of books belonging to various family members, such as my grandmother and great grandmother, neither of whom I knew, but whose comments, additions, notes and recipes scribbled on the back of envelopes survive on in their books. I find that precious and important and love using the older books. I'm also a fan of reading cookbooks, particularly old ones, they say so much about how we live and our times. So I also have a collection of reproductions of old cookbooks. So far as decluttering goes I'm doomed!

Ali said...

These cookbook posts have been fun to read! I love love cookbooks, some of them marking out periods of my life where I learned to eat/cook better -- I'm thinking of World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey, Modern Vegetarian by Peter Something and my recent fave, Clean Food. I'm not even a vegetarian but they helped me change my diet immensely! Anyway, I've been known to worship my Nook Color a bit, and dream of Project 333, but it's still hard for me to love cookbooks digitally. I did pare them down, but I still love flipping through books and trying new recipes!

Dichohecho said...

I'm in the midst of de-cluttering my childhood bedroom and making it habitable and have much sympathy for you.
Being a young one with no house of my own, my book collecting is limited to what I have room for so I haven't got too many. There's also the fact that most of the time when I'm looking for inspiration I'll go to Pinterest or Smitten Kitchen and scrawl recipes on scraps of paper, so I don't actually use the books I have much.
What I have started doing is collecting tried & trusted recipes in a little notebook so that when I move away from home I'll still be able to make old favourites.
Having started in an A5 notebook I have established that that is TOO SMALL, but a tough canvas cover is good. I was given a "Dodo" book for recipe pasting and although I'd normally think such a thing was a bit unnecessary and a have, it is actually quite useful - there are pockets for cuttings and dividers which force me to be organised.
Happy de-cluttering!