I remember one summer at our mountain house, my mom, aunt and grandma going through old family recipes and figuring out what should go into a Family Recipe Binder that could be copied for each one of them, so they'd always have the most important ones on hand. It has things like my grandpa's famous fried rice recipe, my aunt's homemade macaroni and cheese recipe and some of my mom's most delicious Christmas cookies (seriously, it's hard not to eat all of them). The binder is one of those huge 3 inch binders and it's all separated by menu type. Everything is typed out and in sheet protectors. When I see it set out on the counter at my mom's house, I know something good is going to wind up on the table. Plus, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving or Christmas without it sprawled on the counter somewhere.
I have never considered myself a master chef or anything fancy. No one yells Bam! when I throw seasonings into a skillet and I have to use a measuring cup, spoon or pitcher to get my proportions just right. I hate recipes that say a pinch of this or a handful of that. How do I know if my pinch equals your pinch? Maybe your fist is smaller than mine and if I do a handful of flour, I'm gonna have cement not a nice paste.
Pinterest changed my life when it comes to cooking. I've found some great recipes and I've lost some hours to pinning (okay, fine, a lot). I started scrawling recipes down on random sheets of paper, printing others out or pinning them for later. Then, I'd just stick them somewhere, but they never really had a place. That's when I thought back to that family recipe binder and I decided I could make one of my own. Again, I'm no chef here, so the thought of having my own recipe binder is like having my own cookbook. It strikes me as very weird. Alas, that's exactly what I put together.
I went to Target for the items I didn't already have: gold and hot pink polka dot binder (I can find it in the dark now), tabbed dividers, college ruled notebook paper (I like handwritten recipes). Then, of course, I already had a pen, scissors, a 3 ring hole punch and several recipes torn out of magazines.
I wrote on the tab markers each category of recipes: breakfast, appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts. I pulled 'em apart, spent more time than it would take a normal human being to slide them in the little tabbed slots and then stuck them in the binder.
Fancy right? I keep telling myself this is how all great cookbooks are born. I mean color coded, tabbed and sorted by category? That's legit. Mom you'd be so proud.
On the magazine tear-outs, I always hole punched the outer margin of the page. The main reason is the margin on the binded side of the page is usually smaller, then when you rip the page out of the magazine there is even less room. If you were to hole punch the inner margin, you might end up punching out a crucial measurement of the recipe. Long story short, always hole punch the outer margin.
Then, because I have a thing for handwritten recipes, I went ahead and transferred a few of my scribbled notes onto notebook paper and categorized them by type. Would it be easier to just print everything off? Heck yeah! It's just not as charming as handwritten, splattered page recipes. All the best ones have stains on them; that's how you know they're good. I look back at that family recipe binder and I see my great-grandma's handwritten recipes photocopied and I see my grandpa's recipes handwritten and photocopied; it just makes it all feel more meaningful. Since we know my recipes will never turn into a cookbook, at least I can rest easy knowing they'll someday wind up in that same Family Recipe Binder.