Recipe keepers, journals, and diaries

It's the peaceful, slow part of the year. Let's step away from cookbooks for just a moment and look at an often-overlooked corner of the recipe market.  Did you know that there's a whole niche of publishing devoted to recipe journals and diaries?

They come in all different shapes and sizes, and designed for all different levels of engagement. A company called "Delicious Stationery" makes recipe journals that are essentially little more than blank books - lined pages with dividers separating the different courses.

Then there's Celia Sack's gorgeous and very different contribution, The Omnivore's Recipe Keeper.  Sack is the friendly, knowledgeable proprietor of San Francisco's Omnivore Books, and her recipe keeper is a treasury of culinary illustrations.  They're interspersed with the occasional reproduction of a hand-written recipe, tempting you to paste or copy your own...if you can give up the convenience of online recipes or the comforting solidity of your cookbooks, and if you can find the time.

If time's the main issue, there's always Cook's One Line a Day: A Five-Year Culinary Memory Book, which encourages you to just jot down a few words in a datebook - one with space for five years' worth of jottings on each dated page, say January 19th 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. 

I guess the question is whether what you're after is strictly a record, or a more leisurely and memorable experience.  As much as I love the idea of sitting down with my scissors, fountain pen, and glue and creating a scrapbook of my culinary history, that's not how it actually works.  For me it's an Excel database, now extending back almost 3 years, with ratings, cookbooks tested, seasonal notes.

It may not be romantic, but it's what works for me...


  • Foodelf  on  8/9/2013 at 3:07 PM

    I keep an online journal in which I record my doings in the garden, kitchen and whatever I feel like "talking" about. I can be brutally honest regarding how I felt about a recipe or even a dish eaten at someone else's house without having to consider the feelings of others. I include pictures, ideas, thoughts and about once a year, I go back and take a walk down memory lane. It's also a good inspiration for recipes, dinners I prepared - say - this time last year. Or, a reminder for what I did with last year's large crop of plums. I enjoy keeping a journal.

  • debkellie  on  8/10/2013 at 8:47 PM

    There was a radio program last week in Oz on "My life in Cookbooks".. see forum for hyperlink or google it! It was a really intresting exploration of books & cooking in life -and serendipitously, an interesting journalling idea was posted on the program's web site that I found fascinating and wondered if others might do a similar thing: a commentator called Meg said "Loved this show. I too am a HUGE cookbook collector. I cook from most of them but some are pure fantasy and & very satisfying bedtime reading. What I also do is use cookbooks as journals. Not only do I write where I purchased the book from, the cost & what are up to in out lives at that time. Each time I cook a recipe from a cookbook, I write on the page who I cooked for, what were doing as a family, the date, day and year (including the weather) and how good the food was. We love opening a book and reading that we baked so and so cake 8 years ago when my son had his friend Corey over and they went to dreamworld that day, for eg. Now, my children tell me they will all squabble over these cookbooks when I die. They have become heirlooms." And sorry, but their posting rules didn't allow me to nominate EYB as a venue for these cookbook fanciers, otherwise I would have done!

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