Where oh where is that peach pie recipe?
When the pile of recipes is out of control, it's time to organize it. Here's how.
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She prefers boxes to binders, because it's easier to add recipes after the initial reorganization. It's important, she says, to laminate the clean copies to protect them from cooking spills. Another point is to choose enough categories – such as 30-minute meals, main dishes, holidays, picnics, potluck, breakfasts, children's recipes, etc.Skip to next paragraph
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For the more digitally inclined, an online service, Pixily (www.pixily.com), will scan all your documents, including recipes. (All food stains will be preserved for posterity.) It offers several plans. In one, you can send in 50 documents a month in a prepaid envelope. If a friend e-mails you a recipe or you find one while searching online, just e-mail it to your account, says Prasad Thammineni, cofounder and CEO of Pixily.
To organize them in the online storage Pixily provides, you can either do a general search, say for "chicken," or label your recipes with as many different categories as you wish. So, a sloppy Joe recipe could be labeled under "slow-cooker meals," "budget dinners," "main dishes," and "ground beef."
"My wife and I are both cooks," says Mr. Thammineni, who is always asking himself at the grocery store, "What do I need?" Pixily provides iPhone interface so that "you can look at the entire recipe while you're in the store, buy all your ingredients right there."
However you choose to get organized, Sultzman says, do track down your family's heirloom recipes. "I didn't have the chance to get my grandmother's – they were all in her head," she says. The best way is to make the recipe with the relative, so that he or she can translate "a pinch of this" or "dash of that" into specific measurements.
"I can't stress enough," Sultzman says, "it's so important to get your grandmother's recipes or your aunt's recipes." For her, the recipe with the most childhood associations "was my grandmother's chocolate pie. We had that every time we went to her house. Luckily, that was the one recipe that I got. Every time I make it, it brings back memories."
Memories are precisely what brought Judy Bastian of Cornelius, N.C., to Sultzman. "I had Pam do a family cookbook for me," says the project manager for Wachovia Bank. "I have seven brothers. I had them all send pictures and favorite recipes to Pam." The memory cookbooks, which were dedicated to a relative who had passed on, were given to every family member as Christmas presents.
"We have recipes that go back generations," says Ms. Bastian. Family heirlooms include her dad's fried rice and a "burnt sugar cake" recipe that dates to the 1930s.The most prized, though, may be her mother's homemade egg noodles. "My granddaughter now helps to make them. It's a lost art. Nothing beats homemade egg noodles."