The Mysteries of Decluttering from Lucy Burdette

Category: Home and Garden

The Mystery of Decluttering…Recipes @LucyBurdette
August 16, 2017
By LUCY BURDETTE… Over the past 4 to 6 weeks, I’ve been involved in what one might call “productive procrastination.” This means using the inspiration about cleaning stuff out of my house that I found here to actually clean stuff out of my house. This most often happens when I am stalled on my writing. (Why is it that cleaning is so appealing when a person is hammering out a first draft of her new novel?)

We’ve made multiple trips to the clothing donation box, more trips to the church where they are collecting tchotchkes for the white elephant booth at the fair, and a family visit to our attic. (And it turns out that of our children, Andrew is a master thrower-outer, Molly and Jeff, not so much.) But I screeched to a halt when I looked at this drawer:

The picture doesn’t show you that the drawer is so full, it’s very hard to open or close.

This accordion file used to be where I kept the recipes that I would either try or had tried and liked enough to try again. At least it’s minimally organized:

Whereas this box has no organization other than the newest recipes dropped on top: (And I am still adding by the way…)

And I certainly don’t want to dump the whole drawer, because I’d hate to lose precious pieces of the past like this recipe in my father’s handwriting:

And this one from my grandmother (his mother) in 1969:

But the truth is, I also have a ton of cookbooks. And many, many issues of Bon Appétit, which I am too embarrassed to show you and thank goodness I had the sense to discontinue. And when I want to try something new, I most often either look at my Pinterest board for food, or I Google the ingredients. And I store recipes I’ve made and liked on Mystery Lovers Kitchen, like this fabulous chocolate cake or this copycat crockpot pasta fagioli.

Comments? So…help! Do you have a drawer jammed full of recipes? Or other collections to precious to part with? What will you do with them? Please let us know in the Comments section below

For further reading
This Blog post originally appeared at Jungleredwriters, where there are a ton of interesting comments!
6 More Downsizing Tips from Here and There
Kathy Vines on Decluttering

About Lucy Burdette
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries–a cozy, culinary mystery series, which debuted with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Her books can be found in bookstores and online at Amazon. She also happens to be married to Mr. Topretirements (lucky for him)!

Posted by Admin on August 16th, 2017

12 Comments »

  1. I have a drawer just like Lucy’s, 2 recipe boxes of my own and my mother’s foot-long metal recipe file. And I mostly cook from scratch without a recipe, use the ones I’ve stored online or look up a new one on the internet. However, my mom’s file is filled with memories of cooking together when I was a child. I don’t think I can ever part with it so it will be with me to the end. When I’m gone I don’t care who does what with it. The rest I can trash when I move from my current winter home.

    by Ellie — August 16, 2017

  2. I too am drawing near retirement and still adding recipes and recipe books to my collection! So many recipes, so little time!
    I also work for the Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections Library which has a world class collection of cook books. It is more temptation for me to collect unusual recipes! It is also a place to donate some of our treasured cook books. We are still collecting! see: http://www.lib.msu.edu/spc/collections/cookery/ for a glimse at the
    collection!

    by Nora Sleasman — August 16, 2017

  3. Ellie, Here is an idea but will take you some time. If you don’t have time maybe you could hire a high school kid or pay a grandchild to do it for you. Maybe you could sort the recipes out, such as a pile of dessert recipes for a grandkid to do one type of file at a time so as to not be too confusing.
    What you will need is:

    (1) Thumb Drive Size is up to you but for example, a 4 GB drive can store 80,000 doc page; 2,400 pictures,
    an 8 GB drive can store 160,000 doc pages; 4,800 pictures There are larger thumb drives too.

    (1) Scanner hooked to your computer. I have a Brother DS620 manual feed scanner and it is like a wand and is so easy to use and fast. There are other brands similar to this one.

    You will need to scan each recipe, name it and save it to a file folder. You can have a file for Desserts, Meat, Pasta, Pressure Cooker, Mom, Dad, Auntie Susan, Dog Biscuits. Whatever you want. When you want Mom’s apple pie recipe just go to Desserts, Apple Pie Mom and find the recipe. It will pop up on your screen just like you scanned it! Hand written, typed, clipped from a magazine. Then you can copy the thumb drives onto other thumb drives and give them to your children so everyone has their own copy. Then believe it or not, you could probably sell all the recipes on Ebay or just toss them once you have them all organized on your thumb drive. The nice thing is that you can keep adding recipes as you find them to your thumb drive.

    Right now I am ‘trying’ to go thru old photo albums and scan the pictures so I can get rid of the original pictures. So far have not gotten too far. I have no grandkids to pay or bribe!

    by louise — August 16, 2017

  4. You can also scan with an inexpensive app for your smartphone.. There are many.. I use TurboScan Pro from Piksoft, Inc. (which cost $4 or $5). It allows me to scan multiple page documents, give them a name, email them to myself or others. I have an iPhone, but don’t know if this app is available for other phones. But you should be able to find one that’s highly rated for any phone.

    by Susan — August 16, 2017

  5. What a great idea to organize my recipes on a thumb drive!!! When I moved from NC to FL last year, I managed to get rid of most of the cookbooks but forgot to copy down a recipe from “Diet for a Small Planet” before donating it. If anyone has this cookbook, I’d love to have the recipe for Carob-Yoghurt Waffles or Pancakes. Seems like the recipe is for waffles, but I used it for pancakes!

    Thanks,
    maybloomer1@gmail.com

    by Sara — August 16, 2017

  6. I love your suggestions! I can see I’m not the only one with the recipe collector problem…I’m afraid if it all of this was on a thumb drive, I’d never look again. But I love the idea of the scanners–both the app and the one attached to the computer. As soon as I finish my writing words today, I’m off to investigate those. And look at the MSU link too. Thanks so much for the comments and suggestions!

    ps Sara, I have that cookbook. I’ll look later. But wonder if this is similar to what you remember?

    http://grillsville.appspot.com/recipe/99018

    by Lucy Burdette — August 17, 2017

  7. Throw/give all the recipes and cookbooks away, and eat all your meals out 🙂

    That’s my ultimate goal!

    by Jan Cullinane — August 17, 2017

  8. Lucy, After you scan the recipes you could put a small jewelry type box in your kitchen and store the thumb drive in it. You could call that your ‘recipe box’ so you wouldn’t feel like you are missing your recipes. The cool thing is that you will always be able to ‘see’ the handwritten recipes, the recipes that were torn out of magazines or whatever hard copy that you will scan. It is tedious to do but maybe you could challenge yourself to doing it for half an hour a day or do 30 recipes and stop. It can burn you out but once done you will have them forever and can add and add to your collection.

    by louise — August 17, 2017

  9. Jan, I hope you achieve your goal to eat all your meals out but that is not feasible for most of us. The cost alone would break the bank. I have eaten my share of restaurant meals and travelled all over the USA plus the Caribbean and find that some of our home cooked meals are better than many restaurant meals I have eaten. I can get a fresh 3# lobster that the grocery store steams for me at a cost of about $36. That same lobster in a restaurant would be at least $75-$85 and that isn’t counting side dishes, cocktails and tip! My grocery store has sales on lobster for every summer holiday. Same thing with a steak dinner at home. Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat out now and then but prefer to eat home to get a better meal, most times, and less expensive. I have some recipes that would put some restaurants to shame. I say ladies and gentlemen, save your recipes and keep cookin’!

    by louise — August 17, 2017

  10. I love Jan’s idea! My plan was to cook more after retiring. It really has not happened, and I doubt it will.

    by Pat R — August 17, 2017

  11. I’m with Louise, will keep on cooking! I have to eat a low sodium diet now, so lots of restaurant food is out of the question.

    by Lucy Burdette — August 17, 2017

  12. I, too, am a compulsive recipe collector. As of 2015, I had approximately 4000 cooking magazines (eg, Cuisine, Bon Appetite, Gourmet, Cooks, Food and Wine, Savour, etc) stored in 3 bookcases and God knows how many boxes in my basement, and about 150 cookbooks in 4 bookcases in my living room. I finally decided it was time to purge, and started with the oldest magazines, some going back to the 1960s. I have clipped out any recipes of interest, and diligently categorized and filed them, so far having filled two small file cabinets. Have about another 800 to go. However, all cookbooks will remain intact. The thought of eventually donating some of the books and recipes to an institution like Michigan State U (suggested above) is appealing – beats my idea for a Viking funeral, where someone can load my body and books in a boat, fire it, and push it out to sea!

    by Dorothy, August 17, 2017

    by Dorothy Pfeffer — August 17, 2017

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