Wanted: The perfect notebook

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I have a whole bunch of notebooks and journals. Some with lines, some with dots, some fully blank. Some pages are rougher, some are smoother.  Some take the lovely ink from my fancy glass dip pen well, some, notsomuch. Some of the journals were intended for something that didn’t materialize at all. Like the journal my aunt gave me when I went a way to university and I didn’t write a single page in it. Sorry Auntie V; I’ve really never been a journaller. I’m a project documenter and a listmaker. Some are half-full of a project (like the 100 page project that I never managed to get past 50 pages, or the Happiness Project, or the Gratitude Project). These things are timeboxed to 100 days or a year, or whatever, and then, that’s it. Sometimes, there are a bunch of pages full of notes on how I’m going to be healthier – ayeurvedic doshas, allergy elimination diet, the eleventy thousand ways to reduce stress in your life.  There was the one with the minutes from Army Cadet League meetings and seminars. The bullet Journal misadventures. The lists and lists and lists.

Sometimes I tear out the pages that I don’t need or want. That way, it’s a new notebook again, ready for new things! Except that the spine doesn’t hold the same if I’ve just torn out (or cut with blade, usually) 20+ pages. And then, the first few pages of the “new” journal will fall out because they’ve been scored through by the blade I used to take out the preceding pages.

I both love and don’t love them. And I may need to add another to the ranks. I know, I know. I can’t help it.

Child had, when he returned home from the Royal Military College in April, decided that he wanted to take a more active role in dinner. There were a few recipes he wanted to try, and he mostly just took the responsibility most days. This semester, since the school is trying to accommodate classes for students in 4 different time zones, he’s asked if he can toss that job back. He feels badly because he knows that means it falls to me. But I quite like cooking and baking. I just get tired of having plain baked chicken with plain boiled cauliflower and plain steamed rice. I want to use the impossible pile of recipes that I’ve torn out of magazines and scanned onto a jump drive “for later”. I want to actually use the giant folder of Pinterest recipes and saved Instagram and Facebook recipes.

A friend’s friend commented recently that collecting recipes is a different hobby from cooking. Amen to that. But I want to bring those together. So I thought I would do a project… stay with me… no skipping ahead… I would challenge myself to cook something every day that I could include in a Casa Di Swears Recipe of the Day collection.

I tried one journal. But the paper doesn’t take the ink from my dip pen well.

I tried another. It started shedding pages because I had cut out some of the folio pages.

I tried a third. It only had enough pages in it to last me until maybe the end of the year. And not even if I wanted to include the holiday treats I make. And this year, I’m missing being able to stretch my cooking chops (ha! See what I did there?? I slay me!) I want to revisit the greatest hits, and maybe find some new stuff as we go.

October 1, I started the project in earnest. There’s been Roasted Root Vegetables that I’ve made for many Christmases and Thanksgivings along the way. It’s not hard to make and I quite enjoy it both while they’re roasting, all the way through to the leftovers later in the week. There’s been Cod Diablo, that my mom used to make in Waaaaybackland, when she was doing the late 70’s/early 80’s version of Weight Watchers. There’s been the Sloppy Joe recipe that showed up in the fundraising cookbook for Child’s minor hockey association a decade ago, and gets pulled out randomly, a time or two over the year. There’s been the very opportune banana muffin recipe that we added to our Famiglia Millennium Project, where all my dozens and dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles submitted their Family Favourites. And I want to collect all of those in a place. A journal. But after writing the first two twice in sad failed journals (see above), and then I just kind of started collecting the pile of cookbooks into a wonky pile on the side of my dining room table/work-from-home desk. It’s not a sustainable system. But I want to record the Recipe of the Day somewhere, like Nigella does. Or like how the bottom of every SmittenKitchen recipe has links back to what she did a year ago, two years ago, and so on.

At the very root of this though, I think this is about feeling accomplished. At the beginning of every year, I put together a list of things I want to do. It’s a 20 things for 2020 this year. Some of them are things that were a wash because of Covid. So the checklist of 20 for 2020 mostly evaporated, and my enthusiasm for trying to shoehorn new things onto the list was low. So I’m putting one on the 2020 Revamp: I’mma cook my way through cookbooks and magazine scraps and Instagram. There will be misadventures, and there will be great new finds that we put into the rotation. And that’s a very OK result.

I still feel like I maybe need a new Journal, though.

2 thoughts on “Wanted: The perfect notebook

  1. I’m the exact same way! I have a growing hoard of notebooks that I just can’t seem to consistently write in. I’m trying to gather up a lot of the recipes I learned to cook over quarantine (I got adventurous) – maybe I just haven’t bought the right notebook yet….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janel, good luck to both of us.
      If we’re being honest here, I did buy another one and I’ve written 4 recipes in. So we’re off to a decent start here in the Casa di Swears. I’m trying to be careful to not put things I *intend* to cook (lest I just have another pile of ideas. I’m trying to only write the things I actually cook.


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