Mind the Gap – Cookbooks or Electronic Recipes

This morning I was reading through the Mind the Gap post over on Daily Post and it got me thinking about where I pull my recipes from. The discussion they posed centers around eReaders and hard copy books. They asked, “How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?”

On that subject, I enjoy using my Nook and E uses his Google Nexus for his reading. But if it’s a book that I’ll need to reference again (like a parenting book), I like to have a hard copy. But what about your recipes? Do you use a tablet to display recipes off blogs or magazines? Do you use a cookbook or maybe a recipe index card box? For me it’s a mixture of all of those, but lets look at that a little closer.

Cookbooks

Pros:

I have my fair share of cookbooks and regularly add new ones to my Amazon wish list.

I have my fair share of cookbooks and regularly add new ones to my Amazon wish list.

I love that you can mark them up (don’t like as much cumin in your tacos? Make a note of it on the recipe page.) and dog ear the pages with your favorite recipes. I have several cookbooks that have been passed down from my Grandma or E’s family and the history and tradition there is heartwarming. I especially love it when I come across a page with my Grandma’s formal handwriting.

Books that have a good index are great too. I often cook around a specific ingredient. (Need to use up some ground turkey or just feel like meatballs? What can we find in the index?) It’s handy to just search through the list of recipes under “turkey, ground” and see what you come up with.

And for the times when you’ve planned diddly-squat and you need to find something quick, you can just grab a tried and true book off the shelf rather than finding your computer and hunting around for a recipe.

Cons:

Clutter, clutter, clutter. If you’re like me, you receive a handful of cookbooks every Christmas. This year we received three four between the two of us. And, for those gifters, don’t get me wrong – I love getting them. But the problem is that there’s only so much room. So option A: the books get stacked and jimmied into the already cramped cupboard; or option B: I do some weeding. It’s always a tough job to pull out the cookbooks to weed. Some of them you haven’t cracked in ages, but they came from so-and-so and you’d hate to get rid of them. Others are ones that you find a recipe in once every six months, and you just know the moment you give it away you’re going to miss it.

Also, as good as cookbook indexes are, can they ever really stand up against tags, categories, search engines, and the diversity of options that is the internet? Not really.

Recipe Index Cards

Pros:

I've told you before about my 'little red book of recipes' before. It's the hall of fame of recipes.

I’ve told you about my ‘little red book of recipes’ before. It’s the hall of fame of recipes.

You really can go crazy personalizing a recipe on these babies. And it still has the tradition and family-ties. I got my little red book of recipes at my wedding shower that E’s Aunt Gail threw for me. She had everyone send in a recipe, so the book came fully stocked. I love flipping through it and seeing all the different handwriting from the people I love. I regularly add new recipes that I’ve tried and I know I want to be in my weekly or monthly arsenal.

The clutter issue doesn’t really come up with these, does it? I also have a little recipe card box and it’s teeny tiny and holds maybe 100 recipes. They’re pretty compact and it’s strictly a bunch of recipes that you like. Nothing in there that has beets (eww) or veal (don’t get me started on this), like cookbooks might have.

Cons:

There is absolutely no way you’re going to try something new if you go strictly this way. Index cards, generally speaking, are recipes you’ve tried and loved. But, unless the recipe fairy is coming you your house at night, there aren’t any new recipes just popping up to try out.

eReader or Computer

Pros:

I use E's Nexus for displaying recipes all the time.

I use E’s Nexus for displaying recipes all the time.

You have a multitude of recipes at your fingertips. If you’re cooking around an ingredient, just search around for a dish that looks good and you’re off! While we’re on that topic, PICTURES! Cookbooks often have photos, but online you’re guaranteed at least one photo. And sometimes, when you’re at sites like Pioneer Woman Cooks, you get step-by-step photos. So helpful!

I also find using eReaders a good way to stay organized. I have a long list of online recipes I want to try. Rather than printing them off and trying to manage a stack of unorganized paper, I can just hop online and scroll through my list – read through the ingredients if I need – and find the one that works best.

Cons:

Am I the only one who gets really nervous cooking around a tablet? I’m pretty scatterbrained and clumsy and I really find it to be a likely scenario that I dump half a gallon of milk on it. Or maybe drop it in the sink full of dishwater. What about smearing it with my grubby little fingers after I rolled the chicken in flour? It’s scary business, people. (I do have a waterproof case for the Nexus that I could use – and I know they make these to fit any device – but it doesn’t have a kickstand and it’s a teeny bit harder to use the touch screen. Still a better option than dumping half a gallon of milk on it!)

I know there are loads of personal recipe catalog apps. Here are a couple that I’ve heard good things about, but never used myself: Paprika and The Recipe Box. Like I said, I’ve never used one, but I have to imagine it’s not as easy to cross of an ingredient and write in your own notes. Though the personal rating systems attached to these probably helps some. So if you try something and think it’s only mediocre, you can give it two stars. (Next time maybe KrystalCooks.com will spare you the effort of cooking something you don’t love though!)

Recipe Reader

I’m throwing this in the list because I’ve heard of enough people using them. I’ve also heard of people who have iPads and other tablets mounted in their cabinet or fridge, so I’d count that as a recipe reader. Something that is mostly dedicated to use in the kitchen counts here, I say. If you’re curious, here are a couple options: Key Ingredient Recipe Reader, or the Samsung Refrigerator with LCD, including apps.

Pros:

The kitchen-specific readers are built to take the abuse of spills and bumps. The Key Ingredient Reader is designed to store your ingredients and offers a bunch of other good features (like measurement conversion and ingredient substitutions).  It also says it connects wirelessly to a database of recipes. And the Samsung fridge app connects with Epicurious to get recipes, in addition to storing your grocery list and calendar.

If you have an iPad or Android tablet specifically for your kitchen, I have to imagine you also have it decked out in kitchen safety-wear. So, you can probably get rid of the concern of dropping or spilling on it. And an actual tablet is going to let you browse the entire internet for recipes, plus you can download an app for storing your own.

Cons:

Umm, pricy. Two hundred beans for a device that displays your recipes, but can’t connect to the internet at large? That’s a little steep. Or, buying a tablet that’s really primarily used in the kitchen? You’d really have to do a lot of cooking to make that price tag worth it.


So many options! I use a mixture of cookbooks, recipe cards, and the tablet. I would say I cook mostly off blog posts, so either a print-out or tablet works best. But cookbooks are a close second.

What about you? Do you use an eReader in the kitchen? How do you keep your recipes organized and leave room for trying new ones? Any recommendations for keeping your cookbooks organized and relevant to what you cook? Tell me in the comments!

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4 responses

  1. Interesting take on the topic — I like e-recipe sites/apps simply because they offer more options, but I almost always *print* a copy of the recipe to take into the kitchen!

    • Thanks! I agree, I like the options on websites or apps too, plus they’re easier to search. I print a copy often too, but then I end up with a stack of papers of recipes I liked but didn’t love enough to add to my recipe box. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I have recipe cards that I write everything down on, but I research new recipes on the internet. If they are card-worthy, I copy them down and put them in my book. I am glad I don’t get cookbooks as gifts because I have no space! The books I have are beyond dog-eared. They are split down the middle!

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