My favorite cook book? Not some fancy, expensive cook book of which I don’t prepare half the meals listed. It’s my homemade cook book. Filled to the brim with recipes that are tried and trusted, I pick this cook book over anything else. Not only are the recipes I wrote/ taped/ stuck in there particular favorites of mine, they are also some family and friend favorites. In my opinion, the best recipes aren’t the ones compiled in glossy bound books, but the ones I know that work, or that my mom/ best friend/ other food loving people know work. If you can forego fancy photography, which is usually the selling point of most cook books it seems, all you’ll ever need is a book that teaches you the basics of cooking and your own, homegrown book of recipes. Here’s mine and how I made it (with a glimpse at some of my favorite recipes).
All you’ll need is a binder or notebook and your favorite recipes. And all that rests is organizing them and putting them in there. I have been compiling mine for almost 8 years and it features anything under the sun. From my mom’s homemade pea soup to how to prepare my favorite low carb/ wheat free meals, and from fish recipes which I got from my ex-housemate to my favorite cheesecake recipe: it’s all in this one snazzy red binder. You can go different ways about finding recipes and putting them in there.
What I like about my notebook is that it comes with different colors on the side which is easy for recipes so you’ll now where to find your different recipes. Blue = starters, soups & salads. Red & grey = main courses. Green & purple = desserts & baking. Last but not least is orange which is for miscellaneous recipes such as sauces, smoothies and other random recipes that don’t fit into any of the previous categories. I wrote the legend in the front of the booklet when I first got it, but I had to fuse some categories so I could fit more into it. To resolve the mess that created, I numbered all the different pages and made an index accordingly. I left spaces open for the pages that contain no recipes yet.
Since I came about these recipes in different ways, the look of the recipe book is quite messy. I started out writing everything down neatly at first. But then you find recipes in your supermarket, like the pumpkin soup recipe on the right hand side of the above picture, or your mom simply tells you how to make applesauce (on the left). I got tired of writing everything down, so I simply used scotch tape to stick these recipes in there. I did label the pages though, so I still know what it is.
Here is an example of a handwritten recipe and a printed one that I annotated while I prepared it. That is another advantage of this homemade recipe book: I can make notes, and annotate where necessary. In a full-color store bought recipe book I would not feel inclined to do so, as I’d like to keep it neat. My recipe book compiles both Dutch & English recipes which is again an advantage, as it makes for a bigger variation that is inherent to your personal tastes rather than whatever someone else fancied might go together.
My recipe book also features fotocopied recipes from supermarket magazines. These recipes are from the special edition Allerhande on American cooking from last year which my mom kindly lent me. And that’s another thing I love: the recipes in my recipe book are from all over the place. When my housemate moved to his own apartment, I knew I was going to miss some of his cooking, so I asked him to share some of his staple recipes and wrote them down in here. It also features some old family recipes that have been passed down from my great grandma, recipes from internet sources, other cook books, and cooking magazines.
What I also like is that this recipe book gives an overview of what I liked to cook 8 years ago and what I’m into now. When I started this cook book I had just gotten serious about cooking food. Before that preparing meals was simply a chore I had to do, but through making this cook book I also found how much fun cooking can be and I even have a few recipes in here that I adapted or came up with myself. My latest round was adding recipes that I have been preparing or have been wanting to prepare ever since I went wheat free almost a year ago. The wheat free brownie recipe you see in the picture above, I already shared before including pictures.
And just to show you how much love this recipe book has had: my recipes for hummus and a pound cake. I wouldn’t dare dirty or smudge an expensive cook book from the store. This one however, I don’t really care about. Which is nice, because I can just stick it wherever in my kitchen without having to worry whether I’ll be able to keep it clean. Especially if it’s a recipe you use a lot, chances are the pages will get dirty. And this notebook has a binder style to it, which means I can fold the book into two without breaking spines and save space on the counter top. This even sits on top on my kitchen counter door knobs!
Writing down or printing out recipes you find also helps you to remember what it is you like the most, hence it’s more likely you’ll make it again. To me, that has caused an increase in my joy for cooking. With that I also like to cook more and more and try out more and more different things. Whether it’s a simpler way of making pesto to smoothies I have yet to try, I keep adding to this little nugget of cooking gold as I become a better cook and know more about food. My tastes also change, but that doesn’t mean that one day I won’t want to make that oven dish again that I first made 8 years ago. By compiling your own recipe book, you don’t only combine your favorite recipes but also a piece of yourself.
What’s your favorite recipe?