Personal Recipe Catalog

I love cooking. I love trying new recipes. But I had a problem.

First off, I have quite a collection of cookbooks, cooking magazines, copied recipe cards, and recipes printed from the internet. But unfortunately, some of the best recipes get cooked once and are then buried in a sea of forgetfulness. Josh likes to tease me that he needs to enjoy a new meal thoroughly because he might never experience it again.

Secondly, I try to menu plan according to what is in season locally. I love to eat veggies and fruit when they are at their peak. I find that they not only taste better, but I linger and savor their fleeting flavors more. Right now I’m eagerly waiting for asparagus season when I can buy bundles of the delicious green stalks from the farmer’s market. Because I try to focus on seasonal produce, I’m always digging through my cookbooks and wracking my brain, trying to remember what recipes I have for certain ingredients.

The expenditure of all this time and brain power each week was getting a little tiresome, and so I made a plan and employed my Spring break in the execution of it.

Enter my personal recipe catalog:

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I weeded through all of my recipes and pulled out my favorites. I jotted down some notes about each recipe (title, main ingredients, seasonal ingredients, type of cooking, and where the recipe could be found).

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Because I had so many favorites, it took me quite a few hours to complete this task. I also categorized each recipe according to its seasonal element (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Anytime).

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Using this information, I initially decided to compose menu plans that combined different recipes for each week. Once I started, however, I began to realize that the menu plans would be too restrictive and inflexible. I didn’t need perfect menu plans. I just wanted to be able to quickly find which recipes would be appropriate for the ingredients I had on hand or planned to purchase. So instead of a menu plan, I created a personal recipe catalog. I categorized my recipes firstly by the season and then by the type of dish (complete meal, main dish, side dish). I also included: seasonal ingredients, the dish name, other main ingredients, the cooking method, and the recipe source.

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It was quite a bit of work but, in my opinion, so worth it. I feel so much more organized and ready to tackle menu planning.

I love cooking. I love trying new recipes. And now I have no problem doing it.  😀

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The Unexpected Gift

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
    another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and one who waters will himself be watered.

There’s a knock on the front door and a package awaits me. It says my name on it, but I haven’t ordered anything. I quickly text my husband, but no, he hasn’t ordered anything either. My curiosity mounts as I open the package. Inside is a card from my sister and an autographed print from a local artist that I greatly admire.

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In a flash, I’m on the Grand Haven Pier. I smile as I remember all of the memories connected to this place.  The print now hangs on my wall: a beautiful, unexpected gift.

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“Would you like a dozen fresh eggs?” asks my friend. She and I have been talking chickens (yes, I want to get some), and she tosses out the question casually enough. Do I want home-grown eggs? “Yes please!” She has them waiting for me in the fridge, my name already on the carton. Each gorgeous egg, from rich brown to pale pink and green, is a work of art.

eggs   What a beautiful, unexpected gift!

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How many more times have I been on the receiving end of unexpected gifts? A gift card, a thoughtful text, and gesture of friendship…..

Knowing the joy that comes from being on the receiving end, I want to be on the giving end more often. I’m not a thoughtful person by nature (I know that’s just an excuse), but I want to grow in it, for he who waters will be watered himself.

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PS.  The local artist that I’m a huge fan of is Betsy ONeill. She paints a lot of familiar Michigan landmarks, although she is willing to paint other scenes too. My sister commissioned her to paint a familiar family vacation spot, which turned out beautiful! Here is a link to her work.

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Soaking in the Sun

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For the past few months, my early afternoon routine has consisted of soaking in the sunshine whenever possible. When I arrive home from work, my feline always runs up to greet me. He impatiently waits with his nose to the back door while I fumble with my keys. Dodging through the open door, he makes a bee-line for the dining room, where big golden puddles of sunshine float on the hardwood floor. I grab his blanket and he curls up in one puddle while I lay down in another. It feels amazing to have the sunlight pulse against my face, warming it and melting away the busyness of the morning. With my sunlight therapy finished, I’m then ready to tackle the rest of my to-do list while my cat lazily sleeps on.

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The Gift I Wouldn’t Have Picked

Josh: You’ll never guess what I got you for your birthday! (big grin)

Me: You’re right. I give up. Can I just have it? (I’m quite curious by now)

Josh goes to the basement where he’s hidden it for months and returns with an old, heavy, cream box. 

Josh: It’s a sewing machine! I got it at the auction! (big grin)

I look at it. The case looks ugly. In fact, it looks like it’s been sitting in someone’s basement and there is some grime and a few hairs on it. 

Me: Uh, thanks. (small smile)

Josh: Well, open it up! It’s a Kenmore, which I heard was good. I hope it works!

Me: You mean you don’t even know if it works? And couldn’t you have, um, cleaned it? (nose wrinkle)

I open the case. The sewing machine is dirty too. The dials look ancient. It’s definitely an old machine. 70’s? Not what I had in mind when I said that I needed a new machine. I sigh.

Josh: You don’t like it. I can tell. (big grin has disappeared)

Me: I do like it, I think. I’ll just have to try it out.

I’m not good at hiding my feelings, nor faking enthusiasm when I don’t feel it. To be honest, I was a little bummed about the machine. I wanted something new, glitzy, and glamorous. And I got an old machine that maybe didn’t even work.

BUT!

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It runs like a dream! It has basic dials that are easy to figure out, the stitching comes out evenly, and it quietly purrs along with no snags! I LOVE it!

Me: Thanks Josh, from the bottom of my heart, for being willing to get me what I wouldn’t have picked myself.  

And although I’m not a huge sewer and have basically used it for mending, a 2018 goal of mine is to sew myself a skirt.  I can’t wait!

 

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Fresh Pasta (in Pictures)

 

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that give back.  😉  I gave Josh a pasta maker, and this is what I get in return.

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Step One: Combine 2/3 cup all-purpose flour with one egg. Knead for five minutes until well combined.

 

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Step two: Divide dough into two pieces. Take one piece and run it through the pasta maker at the widest setting.

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Step three: Fold the dough like an envelope and put it through the pasta maker again. Repeat a few times.

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Step four: Keep putting the dough through progressively narrower settings. Your dough should get thinner and longer each time.

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Step five: Feed the dough through the dough-cutting attachment.

 

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Step six: Pop your fresh noodles into salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Results? Super tender and delicious pasta.  😀

 

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Oma’s Lace

This piece of lace stretched across my picture window. It’s intricate. It’s delicate. It’s handmade. I look at it and questions flood my mind. When did my Oma make this? Was she a busy young mother, snatching in some moments here and there to create a piece of beauty for her window? Or was she an empty-nester, spending quiet evenings crocheting? Who did she make it for? Was it for her own spotlessly kept living room? Or was it for one of her many daughters?

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All these questions, but no answers. I didn’t know her well, and much of her life remains as black and white as the old photos I have of her. But somehow, when I look up at her crocheted lace hanging in my family room, I’ve connected with her in some small way.

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A Respectable Bird

“The turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird,

and withal a true original native of America…

He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage,

and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards

who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

-Benjamin Franklin

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The wild turkeys continue to visit us. A flock of 18 were regular visitors this past summer, and now the group has swelled to 30!  They love our feeders, and sometimes even say “hello” to us on our deck.

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Their coloring is truly beautiful, and though they sometimes leave unpleasant “deposits” on our walkway, we still enjoy their antics.

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