I enjoy cooking and it is fun to try out a new recipe. Over the years my style of cooking has changed. Yesterday I sorted out my collection of cookery books and donated some to an op shop. The really tatty ones went in the recycle bin. I also sorted and decluttered my collection of recipes. I have realised having too many recipes is just another form of clutter.
Changes over the years
When I learnt to cook as a child, housewives were expected to bake cakes and biscuits. Cake recipes used more fats, sugar and lots of eggs. Many people, especially in the country had chooks and so it was not uncommon for a cake recipe to use six or more eggs.
'Fashions' in food have changed. I recall eating numerous dishes such as 'lemon snow', milk jelly and fish aspic made with gelatine in the sixties. Remember the fondue parties of the seventies? As immigrants from a wide variety have come to Australia and people have become more health conscious, the type of food we eat has changed.
Food from the sixties. Image:Marie Vonow
Additional products have come onto the market. A wider range of vegetables has become available. I hadn't heard of zucchinis, red onions or bok choy as a child. There are so many frozen, tinned and packet foods on supermarket shelves today.
My own dietary needs have changed as I have aged and face the challenges of high cholesterol and diabetes. The food I eat has had to change. Goodbye brandy snaps.
However, until yesterday I still had the cook book we used in Home Science back in 1968. I had never asked myself if it was relevant to the way I cook today. I had a copy of the main recipe book my mother used. She only had two or three books of recipes. I knew I would never use most of the recipes, perhaps none, in either of these books.
Cookery books from the sixties. Image:Marie Vonow
I had other recipe books I would never use including one that came with a bread maker I no longer own. There were exercise books of recipes cut from magazines and newspapers. There was a bulging loose leaf binder of recipes, some typed up thirty or forty years ago.
In addition there were recipes printed from the internet. Many of these I had never tried out and was unlikely to. There were also lots
of food magazines.
Time to declutter
I hadn't really thought of excess and outdated recipes as clutter before. I realised it would be easier to eat the foods I should for optimal health if I didn't have access to unsuitable recipes. I would be able to find recipes I wanted if I didn't have so many unnecessary ones.
I put exercise books of untried or unsuitable recipes in the bin after removing the few I have used and like. I must admit I wonder why I saved most of them in the first place.
I have come up with a few tips for dealing with cookery books and individual recipes to help me in the future -
Don't buy food magazines or recipe books. There are many excellent recipes on the internet.
Don't look at recipe books and magazines in op shops.
Use blu-tack to attach recipes to try to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door. If I haven't tried it within a month, I will throw it away.
If someone gives me food magazines I will look through them within a week of receiving them. If I do remove any recipes I will attach them to a kitchen cupboard door as in the previous hint. (This limits the number of recipes I can keep as there aren't many doors.)
I will put any cut up magazines in the recycling bin immediately and donate any complete magazines to an op shop the next time I go out.
Anything can become clutter. It is easy to think we have to hold onto things like old recipe books because we have had them for so long. Now I only have recipes I am likely to use, well fairly
likely. As with other things I have decluttered, I found it liberating to dump ripped and stained cookery books in the recycle bin and donate the ones which someone else may actually use.