When my husband and I were first married, I began collecting the recipes I used most often in a steno pad. Unbeknownst to me, I was commonplacing.
Commonplacing is the act of writing down favorite passages (or in my case recipes) in a book. The choices we make about what to enter in our book tell us a lot about who we were at the time of the entry. For instance, when I look back to the entries I made at the beginning of my Commonplace Cookbook, almost all of the dishes have meat or dairy in them while the latter sections do not. Beans and lentils are completely absent for the first quarter but then, over time, come to dominate the main dish entries. t
My little book is about full so as I get another steno pad ready to go, I thought I would right up a mini tutorial on how to start this practice.
First off, your notebook selection is key! This is a book that you will (hopefully) be writing in and using for years to come so make sure you select something with a line height you prefer and will lay flat when open. I love steno pads because of their top binding and sturdy cardboard back. (I take out the binding and flip the cover around because I don't usually like the color of the covers.)
Second, do yourself a favor and make a table of contents log. I didn't do this for mine and have spent so much time flipping around for recipes that I knew were in there!
Third, start adding recipes! Food blogs and recipe books from the library are my two favorite sources. Like most people, I tweak recipes to fit my family's preferences and to accommodate what I can readily find at the grocery store. By cooking something multiple times before entering it into my book, I can better ensure that I am recording a more accurate version of my cooking method.
Cookbooks from the library go through an additional step because I only have them for a short while. I start by making a list of all the recipes I think I will actually cook in another steno pad. I used to just use scrap paper for this but switched to a notebook because sometimes I would lose my list! Also, unless we are on a school break there is no way I will have the time to try to cook each recipe I wrote down, so when I’m in a cooking lull I sometimes flip through this book to see what cookbooks really inspired me and will check them out again.
Hope this inspires you to start commonplacing your recipes too! Feel free to tag me on IG (@rachelloewen) with your books!
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