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Thursday, July 13, 2006 

Taming a Tower of Recipes

I once went to a house where the owner had an entire wall, (and it was a big wall) covered with shelves that were filled from top to bottom with cookbooks. This guy had cookbooks on every topic, style and method out there.

Most of us don't have the space to keep that many publications. I keep one shelf of books and a basket of magazines, which I have to go through every few months. I find mostly that I'm going online more and more when I'm looking for a technique or recipe.

Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Observer has her own system for keeping recipes and articles she finds in magazines:

A few years ago, I hit on a system that works for me. At an office supply store, I bought a large, sturdy loose-leaf binder, a pack of dividers with pockets, and a box of cheap plastic sleeves.

I could set up the dividers to match my life, rather than some preset order of dishes. So my first section is "slow cooker," followed by "family," "entertaining" and "potlucks."

Desserts are divided by cakes and cookies; breakfast is somewhere in the back, because it's rare when I have to cook something elaborate.

Using clear sleeves for pages lets me add clipped recipes after I've tried them. They can be removed and taken to the stove, and they're protected from drips.

The pockets on the dividers hold all those recipes that are waiting to audition.

Hey, I do that! I actually have two binders with clear sleeves inside. One is for "tried and true" recipes, I print them out on card stock, write in notes at the bottom and slide them into the sleeves, the dividers are set up the way I would use them, not the way a cookbook might. I have a quick section, a section for holiday faves and a slowcooker section as well as one where I have saved recipes passed down to me from my grandmother. The other binder is for when I weed through that ever growing pile of cooking magazines. I cut out the recipes I want to try and slide them into sleeves in the binder marked "untried" and then I toss the magazines. When I need inspiration or want to try something new I will pull that binder out and if the recipe is good I just move the sleeve over to the other book. If it is bad, I dump it in the waste basket, lol.

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