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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Recipe Indexing

Like most people we have lots of cook books, myriads of recipe cuttings from magazines and the usual handwritten scraps of paper.

One wet day all the loose recipes went from a box into plastic envelopes and into a binder. This made finding a recipe index a little easier. Jean has an incredible memory for recipes. She can remember that so and so gave her a recipe for making Hunza Pie or there was a cutting from Women's Weekly on Malay Fish Curry.

The only short coming is where in the three large binders of recipes is the one that is required. When the binders were setup each page was numbered in indelible ink with the expectation that one day an index would be created. That just never happened.

But one day there was this brilliant idea. Some recipes just get used much more than others. A new folder was started called "Most Used Recipes". A simple process was implemented i.e. any recipes that were in regular use made their way into the new folder.

The next problem to solve was cook books and tracking recipes. A simple solution is of course to insert a book mark. This works well until the book marks equal the number of pages in the book.

Sometimes standing in the kitchen with a set number of ingredients and all you need is a guiding recipe to put these ingredients together in a tasty ensemble. Wading through the cookbooks for a couple of hours is one solution. Another was to build a spread sheet of interesting recipes. Showing the Book Title, Recipe Name, Page Number and a column for each of up to  five major ingredients.

BookRecipePageIngredient 1Ingredient 2Ingredient 3Ingredient 4Ingredient 5
The Rice BookCarrot Rice115RiceCarrots

The Rice BookRice with chickpeas114RiceChickpeas

The Rice BookSavoury Rice with Herbs123RiceMackeral

The Rice BookFried Rice126RiceMushroomsCarrots

The Rice BookJamaican Rice and Peas116RiceRed Kidney Beans

The Rice BookMexican Rice and Refried Beans128RiceRed Kidney BeansTomatoes

The Rice BookSouth Indian Rice Soup153RiceRed LentilsTomatoesCarrots
The Rice BookMinestrone Rice158RiceHaricot BeansCannellini BeansLeeksTomatoes
The Rice BookGreen Rice Soup159RiceOnionSpinach

The Rice BookMiso163RicePeanutsShallotsTofuMushrooms

Each column in the spread sheet has a Filter button to enable sorting by Book Title, Recipe or Ingredient. The Filter button also allows a single ingredient to be displayed simplifying the research.

No, it wasn't a matter of sitting there for days accumulating the index. It was done a little at a time such as when looking through a book and finding some interesting recipes to try at a later date. Especially important were recipes that used a number of seasonal vegetables. Remember the food guidelines say 5 vegetables every day.

Our lives are not as regimented as this post may indicate. As much as we try to keep these things in an orderly manner much slips through the cracks. But then there are Espoused Theories and then Theories in Action and somewhere in between.

I understand that some people keep their lives simple by minimising the number of variables they work with but that has never been our style.

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