Do You Write in Your Cookbooks?

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Do you write in your cookbooks?
As children we are told to treasure and look after our books and any that are personalised in any other way than a name are considered disfigured.
I was brought up that way and have passed on that care of books to my children, but my cookbooks are a completely different thing. Despite having often had one of those clear plastic protective recipe stands in the kitchen, inevitably my favourite recipes get splodged with ingredients and scribbled with notes on possible variations and changes.  Sometimes I remind myself with a date and reason for celebration on a special occasion recipe. I reminisce as I flick through David Thompson’s thai food and remember dishes cooked for my last decade birthday.
My Stephanie Alexander Cooks Companion is so beaten up that a while ago during a radio interview I actually showed it to Stephanie, not in shame but as a sign of how much the book had been appreciated and used.  Now with its cover completely detached from the book, I don’t feel quite as willing to share the state I have let things get to.

How do you treat your cookbooks, are they kept pristine and and as perfect as you bought them or like me are your favourites well worn and do you write in them?



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31 thoughts on “Do You Write in Your Cookbooks?

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  6. Hi there. Yes I definitely write in my cookbooks, notes about what was good (or bad) about the recipe, what I changed or could change. I’ve also created my own books by cutting out recipes from magazines etc and they too have plenty of notes. I hope to give these books to my sons/daughters-in-law one day and hope they get enjoyment out of reading what I have written. Cookbooks are different to novels etc – I would never write in a novel but cookbooks are so much more personal don’t you think?

  7. I like to mark good etc in my books and I like seeing this
    in the second hand books that I buy, especially the very old books.

  8. I seldom write in my cookbooks but I do keep a notebook to jot down changes , recipes to try , hints etc. As I am now in my seventies I remember my Mum telling me that if I had to cook in another persons house I would know what recipes were popular as the page would be grubby! I bought a copy of Stephanie Alexanders The cooks companion when it first came out. It was probably the most expensive cookbook I had ever bought and sometime later I found that a bad printing error had occurred. All the pages were there but quite a large chunk was in the wrong order. I didn’t do anything about it but I do check these days if I buy a new cookbook. I have quite a lot of cookbooks and a good collection of older ones some inherited from my Mum and Mother in law. Apart from Aunt Daisy and the Edmonds cookbook there were many fundraising cookbooks as well.

  9. I often add extra ingredients to my recipes and write beside what I have added. For any really favourite recipes I have it laminated so I can prop it up on my bench and also keep it clean as it is easy to wipe. I have recipe books from my mother who passed away over 30 yrs ago and she has written on the front cover her favourite recipes.

  10. I have no problems with writing in my recipe bboks and i often make notes when I make changes to a recipe. However, I try really hard to keep them clean from food splashes etc

  11. What cookbooks? I keep my collection of recipes online, as nearly all my recipes are from other people which I enter onto my laptop. I do have an Edmonds (don’t we all?) and Aunt Daisy’s (gift), and a couple of Alison Holst’s which I sometimes write in the alterations. Otherwise – all online.

  12. As soon as I buy a new cookbook I go through and identify the “must make” recipes. I write these and the page numbers inside the back cover. That way if I’m looking for inspiration I can quickly scan down the list. Once I’ve tried a recipe, I put a post-it note on the page with what I thought of it, and any comments on changes I made, or things to remember. If I photocopy a recipe for someone they can cause some amusement!

  13. I was brought up to look after books as well, but do add wee notes in pencil when I find a recipe especially good (or bad) and helpful conversions of old weights and measures as well as variations which work well.

  14. Hi Helen
    I always write in my recipe books. I also write Ex. or VGd or just Good and the date. Always the date, and sometimes I see where I mightn’t have remade it for a year.

  15. Oh goodness yes, I write all the important things I ‘need to know for next time’ on recipes and as well I mark recipe books’ indexes – they get a ‘dot’ and a ‘v.g.’ beside the recipe’s name if the recipe is worthy of it! Mum wrote comments in her recipe books and her hand-written recipes and now I have some of them, I get a feeling of warmth and reminiscence when reading or making a recipe that Mum personalised. In her days there were only a handful of published NZ recipe books to name some: Edmonds, Aunt Daisy, and the Women’s Division of NZ Federated Farmers recipe books of which there were several volumns put out over the years. I know I will never part with my most used recipe books and would like to think that my daughter and daughter-in-law or even my grandchildren will eventually take what recipe books they want to add to their collections and appreciate my little notes added to the recipes.

  16. Yes i am always writing in my cook books, added ingredients, what the family thought. Great to look back on for the next time you cook the recipe.

    You create a living history of your families favourite past time…well mine anyway… eating.
    My 22 year old daughter has now started to collect her own cook books and does the same.

  17. Yes I do pencil lightly (so it can be rubbed out if required) comments these days in my cookbooks esp things like ‘don’t make again’ or ‘delicious – worth making again’.
    I usually put notes too for example – ‘needs more lemon juice’ etc or how long it took to cook.
    Another note I often put down is the size of the cake or slice tin I used that seemed to work out right. Often I write my notes out on a post-it note and stick it on the book beside the recipe. With things made say only once a year like at Xmas time, you tend to forget the things that worked.

  18. After inheriting a book of my Grandmothers, with lots of little pencil notes in it, I started doing the same – always with pencil though!! Today I guess you could use post-it notes instead!

  19. I try very hard to keep my books as pristime as when they are new. Instead of writing in my books, I use the little adhesive, removal tags. I will admit that after a period of time I have to start removing tags, as my books start to look a bit silly, but your books are good enough to lend out to you friends, and leave for your family.

  20. i dont normally write in cookbooks but have a spiral bound notebook i make notes in. my husband also bought me a cook book which after each section has spaces to write my own recipes and notes in. so i have put many of my tried and true recipes in, mostly for pickles, jams etc.

  21. I do, especially if i find that the amount of anything is not quite right. (eg, a recipe for Louise cake had 1 tsp salt in the base – erg!) I also experiment a bit with fillings for slices and write these in at the bottom of the base recipe. I do like finding jottings in books inherited from other people, or bought second-hand.

  22. I write in my recipe scrap book, and occasionally in my more practical type cook books (ie Edmonds) esp if it is a recipe I always adapt or double. I can’t bring myself to write in the hard cover photo type books.

    With some pages you can tell the recipe has been popular because the page is a little beaten up and discoloured…my Spaghetti Puttanesca page is a disgrace, and the Chocolate Rough page….

  23. I never, ever write in them, as to me books are sacrosanct – which is silly I know, but I just can’t bring myself to write in any book whatsoever – apart from the old exercise books of course :). My problem now is that I am relying more on technology for my recipes as opposed to the written word. Previous to the advent of the advanced technology we have now, I just committed to memory any changes for a recipe or if I didn’t like it (a huge oops – I guess that is proof that my cooking repertoire isn’t that great!!)

  24. I am one of those who makes notes in cookbooks, whereas I would never do the same in any of my other treasured books. If I am lucky enough to ‘inherit’ a cookbook from a relative or friend, those notes make it so much more personal.