Customer Writes about our Cookbook Software

“Um Mom, what’s for dinner?”

This is usually the first sentence I hear when my kids get home.  Sometimes I know what dinner is going to be…sometimes I even have all the ingredients and everything prepped and ready.  But some days this daily ritual gets away from me, and my answer is “well, it’s a Mommy invention”.

This used to strike fear in the hearts of my children.  They’d look at each other, communicating with glances as only siblings can, expressing their trepidation at the idea.  You mean that woman can look at what she has in the house and miraculously turn it into dinner?  Is that even possible?  “Mom, don’t you need a recipe?” one of them would ask quietly…

They’ve learned though that Mom can cook.  They’ve asked me to keep track of some of these “Mommy Inventions” for when I can’t think of what to cook.  My youngest has even requested his own cookbook to take with him when he’s grown.  Gulp.  That means I need a way to organize all these recipes…the ones we like, the ones we’ve made up, the ones we’ve made our own adjustments to…yikes!

Since organization isn’t exactly my forte, I started looking for some options.  I needed something simple, that I could periodically update, and where I could make more than one copy.  While the boy child is the one who wants the cookbook, presumably the girl child will eventually move out and need to feed herself too, right?  That’s where cookbook software comes in.

Matilda’s Fantastic cookbook software allows you to customize your cookbook exactly the way you want it.  You can add in your recipes as you find them, and when you’re ready just print the whole thing out on your home computer as many times as your little heart desires.  The system is user friendly, comes with several pre-loaded templates, and even has measurement converters for those of us who aren’t so mathematically gifted.  It’s a simple way to share your family traditions and keep track of those recipes that tend to get lost in the shuffle.  This is a great tool, and even comes with a free trial so you can try it out.  Genius!

Suddenly the idea of my kids being able to cook for themselves seems a little less daunting.  Now if I could just get them to not grow up…

Organize your treasure trove of family cooking secrets with recipe software

Where do you keep your favorite recipes? Are they in cut-out form, floating freely in a shoe box in a cabinet somewhere? Maybe you’re more organized and use an arbitrary alphabetical system. Is your apricot pudding recipe filed under “a” or “p”?  Or you might own a slowly disintegrating library of specialty cookbooks and only have a few favorites from each one. If you rely on your favorite recipes, why not get it together and load up some recipe software?

 

But I’m no computer geek, you’re thinking…

To the average computer user, the term “software” conjures up equally scary terms like “downloading,” or “customizing” or even paying large amounts of money for something that gums up your computer requiring a visit by your computer geek nephew, who just makes things worse. But good, robust and user-friendly recipe software – namely, an application that uses the power of a database to do one thing well (organizing for retrieval and printing) – can be just the thing to keep you from having to file your apricot pudding recipe under “a” and “p” or float free in that shoe box.

 

The best software does what?

Well, it’s not so much what the software does; rather, it’s what the software makes the user do to make it do what it does. Computer geeks call that “UI” – or user interface. The rest of us call it “the stuff we have to do to make the software work as designed.” If the stuff we have to do is so complicated and difficult that the return on the effort is outweighed by the effort itself – well, you get the picture.

 

What good recipe software does…

It’s simple, really. Good recipe software loads up ready to use so that the user can start amassing a collection of favorite family recipes immediately. And here’s the kicker: the UI – did you forget that abbreviation already? It stands for “user interface” – has to be intuitive. That means the software design is so straightforward that you can start using it without going through a week’s tutorial with your geeky nephew.

 

Good stuff in, great stuff out…

Now that we’ve got the intuitive UI (see previous paragraph if you’ve forgotten that abbreviation again) issue settled, the real reasons the user puts all the recipe information into the recipe software are these: (1) instant access of everything now; (2) total organization with no paper clips, shoe boxes or grease-stained, torn cookbooks; (3) a variety of print options that allow things like “A Book of Favorite Recipes Enjoyed by my Computer Geek Nephew.”

 

The Cookbook People have the recipe software you’re looking for. It’s easy to use, feature rich, and also has a wonderful family bio section that makes it a truly unique product. Visit us to see our demo and download our sample application. You’ll love what this software does, and at a really reasonable price.

Use Page Protectors! Crusty food does not always add vintage charm to cookbooks

Busy cooks can be proud of themselves for creating a custom cookbook in a binder.

 

Sometimes, when you are busy creating the kind of recipes that cause your family members and houseguests to declare you the World’s Best Food Maker Ever, you can lose sight of the importance of organization.

 

Once you’ve spent time putting all of your culinary inspiration on paper and dragging out the ever elusive three-hole punch so that you can file them away in your super tough sexy kitchen binder, it’s natural to just want to sit back and enjoy the feeling of awesomeness that is sure to follow.

 

Not to rain on your parade, but you aren’t finished. Unless you made that cookbook to sit on a high shelf and look pretty, it’s going to get splattered. You will crack an egg and inadvertently drag mucus across its pages. Your dog will bump your knee while begging for a drop of cookie dough and you’ll accidently toss a shiny chocolate chip onto the recipe page where it will go unnoticed until it becomes one with the paper. Even if you do manage to carefully scrape it off, it’s gonna leave a mark.

 

Do you want this kind of crusty chaos mucking up your beautiful collection of culinary inspiration? No. Don’t try to add vintage charm to your cookbook with unidentifiable splats and splatters. Go the extra foot. Drop your recipes in recipe page protectors. Hey, you won’t have to bother with the elusive three-hole punch that way, either.

Some Handy Tips for Making a Family Cookbook

Every family has favorite recipes. Some people keep their go-to formulas taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, some keep them tucked neatly into color coded binders. Some people write in their cookbooks so the changes they’ve made to traditional recipes will be accessible in the future when their kids want to recreate the taste of home.

 

Whether you family is living in the same town or scattered all over the globe, making a family cookbook can be a source of joy for years to come.

 

It may sound like a big project but it’s really quite simple. First, you need to pitch the idea to several members of your extended family that are in charge of their own home’s menus. Make a list of favorite dishes that they are known for, and ask for those recipes first.

 

They can submit them as handwritten, photocopy or scan them directly out of the cookbook they use, or retype them into a document and email them to you. Don’t worry about making the format consistent or perfect. Families aren’t perfectly formatted. Your family cookbook will be cherished all the more for its individuality.

 

personalized binder is a perfect way to store the components of your family cookbook. Each person participating gets a binder with a personalized cover, spine, and inserts. Pick a designated time of year to “add” to the binder. Some families make a recipe exchange part of their holiday tradition. Tastes change so much from year to year and new recipes are always being discovered and created. It’s a wonderful way to record the history of your extended family’s growth.

The Family and Recipe Organizer

Pavarotti once said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

 

I have to think that the type of eating he refers to here is not the type that most of us succumb to on a daily basis. When Pavarotti said, “stop,” I don’t think he was talking about the few seconds that our car is in park at the drive-through window. I don’t even think he was talking about the half hour we have at the office to eat the turkey sandwich with mustard and tomato that we so rarely think to bring with us. I think he was talking about dinner.

 

Dinner. When I was a kid, we sat at the table. We may have eaten spaghetti, but the sauce was at least mostly homemade: canned tomatoes with ground beef, mushrooms and peppers, garlic bread on the side with a salad to boot. We sat down. We passed the food around the table. We waited until everyone’s plate was full, and then we ate. We didn’t always say grace, but we were thankful for our meals and for our seats.

 

I know what you’re thinking: “Well, that’s beautiful but someone’s got to do the cooking.” “I’m a working mom.” “I’m a busy woman.” “My family’s schedule is too crazy. We don’t have time to sit down together.”

 

Arts & Crafts style recipe organizer

A recipe organizer can help your family come together

To that I say, dinner should be relaxing; family time is rare but not impossible. I believe a great dinner begins with the cooking. When there is time to cook a meal for the whole family, why not relish it? Cooking can be a chore, but what if it weren’t? What if we put on a little of our favorite music? What if our recipes were organized so that we could actually make the recipes that make our families? What if we served dinner in glass dishes instead of in the pots and pans which we cooked? What if our kids set the table? What if everyone cleared their own dishes?

 

I know what you’re thinking: “Well, that’s beautiful but it won’t work in my house.”

 

To that I say, why not?

 

What about our dinners differ from those of Pavarotti? Effort. Pavarotti obviously loved to sit down and eat, and he would not have traded those moments for anything else. Let’s start making an effort. Let’s stop whatever it is we’re doing- the dishes, the homework, the arguments, the worrying- let’s think about good things, and let’s eat dinner together.

 

Please feel free to contact us regarding our recipe organizers. This is what we do. We want to help you and your family become experts at dinnertime. 

 

The Recipe Card for Keeping that Holiday Flavor

While the holiday season has many virtues including gift giving and receiving, as we get older much of the focus turns to the foods we get to enjoy at this time of year. Cookies, candies and even some side dishes and meats are only prepared in this narrow time span. Which is probably a good thing considering that many of the dishes we look forward to are not exactly health conscience.

 

So you had a really great time and maybe you overindulged a bit and raided the cookie jar or candy dish a few times too many. Now it is time to face the music and the resolutions you will make going into a new year. Out comes the scales, the water bottle and those low calorie meals that will quickly seem boring and routine. Time to hit the treadmill and attempt to come up with menu options that are appetizing and will pare down some of that spare tire or muffin top you’ve acquired. Oops, muffin is a dirty word in the world of healthy eating. Or is it?

A way to ease the painful transition from going all out and preparing those scrumptious high calorie holiday treats to the more mundane world of healthy eating is to keep that recipe card handy while in the kitchen.

 

Most of us need to have our top-secret extraordinary recipes in front of us when making those memorable holiday specialties. To turn that dish into a healthier treat you can enjoy year-round; as you are peering over the ingredients, think of ways to tweak that recipe into more diet-friendly fare. Keep your recipe cards handy and jot down reduced calorie or lower fat alternatives that might just work as well as those less healthy ones.
Easy replacements include alternatives to real sugar and fat-free dairy products. However, what about making some substitutions for that traditional turkey dinner and enjoying a lighter version a few months later? Roasted vegetables in place of those fat laden buttery mashed potatoes with gravy makes a perfect accompaniment to a lovely turkey breast. The holiday aura is there but without the guilt associated with the high calorie version.

 

When you reach for the rolling pin, bowls and luscious ingredients during this holiday season, make sure to contact us for more ideas and keep those recipe cards handy to jot down healthier ingredient options to help you keep those New Year resolutions.

 

Please take a look at our selection of recipe keepers as well as recipe cards.

Tidy Caramel Apples

Makes 24 slices
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
• 3 large Granny Smith apples (or any apple of your choice)
• 1 large lemon
• 2 cups caramel squares, unwrapped
• 2 tablespoons corn syrup
• 1/4 cup chopped pecans
• Chocolate sauce (optional)

Directions
Cut your apples in half and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving the walls intact at about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness.

Squeeze the juice from the lemon onto the apples and allow to set. (This will keep them from turning brown right away.)

To make the caramel sauce, melt the caramel squares in a sauce pan over low heat, with the corn syrup. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Using a paper towel, wipe your apples down, removing the lemon juice as much as possible. If the inside of your apple is too wet, the caramel wont stick.

Pour the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top. Sprinkle with pecans.

Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes. Cut into slices and drizzle with chocolate sauce, if desired.

 

Love my chickens!

Having chickens in an urban environment can be a great way to get fresh eggs for all those recipes! Here are some advantages to consider when owning your own mini flock!

  • Fresh Eggs Delivered Right to your Backyard!
  • You always know how your chickens were treated (With lots of love!)
  • You know “eggs-actly” what went into making those eggs!
  • Chickens provide lots of entertainment!
  • Natural weeders and bug eaters (to help protect your garden)

Do you own your own chickens? What are some of the advantages YOU find to having them?

Here are some of my favorite Chicken and Rooster Recipe Binders:

Where is that recipe? No, that’s not it. Maybe…no, that’s not it either. Forget it. Let’s order pizza.

Sound familiar? It’s the route I often took after pawing through a pile of haphazardly folded computer print-print outs, scribbled-on notepapers, and the other odd assortment of scraps of paper that composed my recipe collection. Little did I know there was a simple solution that could take the frustration out of my time in the kitchen and bring back the fun: a recipe box.

I know…it’s not exactly rocket science. And yet we so often don’t take the time to find the tools that will make our life in the kitchen easier. A lovely recipe box and a stack of recipe cards go a long way in putting the joy back in cooking. Here’s what I love about my trusty recipe box:

No fuss, no muss

Yes, there’s a little bit of time that goes into transferring recipes to a card and organizing them in your recipe box. Just a little bit. But this little bit of time leads to a no fuss, no muss experience down the road. All of my recipes are at my fingertips. And if I’m heading out to the grocery store I can grab that card and go. The result is that I actually use my recipes, instead of just looking at them and thinking, “Someday I’ll make that delicious sounding dish.”

It’s a solution that works

I’m a fairly digital person. I have about every device on the market. And I love the idea of all of these recipe websites that allow you to create digital recipe boxes on their site. I have happily clicked away and archived many recipes. Then I leave the website and forget they exist. Why? It’s just not the right solution for the problem! When I’m in a cooking mood I’m in the kitchen, not in front of my computer. Nothing compares to being able to grab my recipe box and flip through until I come across something that strikes my fancy. So now I save the computer for emails and spreadsheets and keep my recipes where they belong.

It sparks my cooking creativity

Cooking is an art. And the kitchen is the place of inspiration. Being able to flip through all the recipes in my recipe box easily and quickly gets those creative juices flowing. It makes meal planning an adventure instead of a task. And the end result is a meal that is infused with all of the creativity, adventure and joy you felt while planning it. Delicious!

If you’re feeling inspired to ditch your pile of stained and scribbled papers, find the recipe box and recipe cards that will keep you feeling inspired.

Tips for making your recipe binder work for you

Yes, it sounds a little like something a kitchen overachiever would have; a vast collection of numbered, color coded, perfectly filed recipe binders filled with insightful, witty, precise notes on successfully executed dinner parties, wildly popular family supper ideas, and go-to instructions on everything from how to properly remove the flesh of an avocado to which method for peeling an entire head of garlic is the fastest.

A very durable leather recipe binder.

Let’s leave that image behind for a moment and discuss reality. In a real, working kitchen, you write stuff down. Whether you cover your refrigerator with sticky notes or fold down the edges of your favorite cookbooks is entirely up to you. If you’ve entertained the idea of making your culinary discoveries a bit easier to access and share, a recipe binder is probably in your future.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your recipe binder a part of your cooking life.

  • Use tabs. You know, the kind that stick out on the side of the pages. There may not be much to it at first but before long, you’ll be wishing you could hire a professional indexer to handle your out of control binder. Label now, cry less later.
  • Perfectionism will hold you back. Your binder works for you. You do not work for it. Misspellings, inexact measurements, and little notes in the margins about which kid likes which dish best aren’t all necessary to the function of your binder, but they give it character, which is priceless.
  • Go for durability. This binder is going to get dropped. You will probably spill something on it at some point. Make sure it can stand the test of time.

For more information on how to create a recipe binder that will stand the test of time and serve you well in the kitchen, please contact us.

Check for Fresh Eggs

How to Check for Fresh Eggs

#1. This is just what my Mum once told me. If you do this test and get sick and die, well, please don’t sue the Cookbook People. We sell delightful recipe binders and recipe boxes and write cookbook software. We aren’t organic biologists.

#2. That said, if you use this test, cook the good eggs immediately. Bacteria can get in through the water through the shell once you submerge them.

#3. Fresh eggs are harder to peel after boiling than older eggs.

#4. Always spin your eggs a little in the grocery store. If one sticks to the carton, you’ve got a bad egg. Nobody likes a bad egg.

#5. Please buy Free Range Eggs. They taste better, they only cost a little more, and the lovely birds shouldn’t spend their whole lives in little boxes. #6. Place this useful tidbit inside your recipe binder! 🙂

Preserve Herbs for the Winter

Another handy tip to save for your recipe box:

Freezing herbs in water causes them to crystalize, damaging flavor. Olive oil will not have this effect, but will preserve herbs by preventing contact with air. Frozen olive oil has the consistency of butter. Olive Oil easily reconstitutes when melted without loss of flavor. Simply add the cube directly to your favorite sauce!

5 Simple Steps to a Meaningful Wedding Cookbook (and the most memorable wedding favors ever!)

Wedding Recipe Binder gift

1. Include a single recipe card with each of your invitations, and a note asking that they include a favorite recipe on it with their RSVP.

2. Enter all the recipes you receive into Matilda’s Cookbook Software.

3. Print the cookbooks at Staples for around $2-$4 each, one for each guest.

4. Make one cookbook for the bride and groom that’s bound into a beautiful recipe binder.

5. Let each guest leave the wedding with a unique gift they helped create. Let the bride and groom leave with a foundation of recipes that joins two families and numerous loved ones.

Easy way to make a naked potato

potatoe peeled

Peeling a potato without a knife

This also works for tomatoes. I made a marinara sauce the other day and needed to quickly peel fourteen romas. I boiled seven at a time, never boiled for more than two minutes, then about two minutes in the ice water. I cored them first (just cut the little stem at the top out) and cut an X in the bottom so the skins would slip off easier.

This one is not quite done:

Bottle Bag Closer

This is a very clever (and green!) way to save open bags of goodies. (However, in my household it rarely happens that chocolate chips go stale.)

Be on the lookout for an updated free recipe binder printable with this in it!

Great Healthy Eating Diagram to Add to Your Recipe Binder

healthy eating plate diagram

This healthy eating diagram published by Harvard is such a major improvement over the USDA’s version, mostly because the USDA has the conflicting jobs of promoting health while also promoting the American refined grain and corn syrup industries.

I plan on including this in an upcoming free recipe binder printable (click that link to see others already available). I love a nice cherry pie, but I think when cooking you also need to keep nutrition at the forefront!