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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Kitchen Journal

Frugal Kitchens 101

Like many cooks and chefs, I keep a kitchen journal.  A kitchen journal is essential for testing and tweaking recipes especially those you create yourself so that you can duplicate the recipe at a later date.  I have a very strong scientific background with advanced degrees so my kitchen journal is set up very much lab manual style.  In many ways this make a lot of sense when it comes to setting up a kitchen journal because the kitchen really is a lab.  The important thing to keep in mind is the kitchen journal can help you save money as well.  It's where you try, test, experiment and correct.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses how I set up my kitchen journal.

  • the book - I prefer an A91 lab manual which is a bound book available through any university bookstore.  You can also use a composition bound notebook available through most department and dollar stores.  The important thing is the book you use should be bound and not loose leaf (eg. binder) to prevent pages from going missing.  
  • the format - Each time I start a new kitchen journal I write the title and start date on the front along with my name.  The first two full pages are labeled i, ii, iii, and iv.  These are for the index that will help easily locate entries later.  All pages after that are numbered.  This takes a few minutes to set up but again helps the organization in the long run.  All entries are dated with the entry added to the index.
  • journalling - All journalling is done in blue ink pen with the exception of tweaking that sometimes is entered in the margin in pencil but most often done in green ink pen.  All dates are underlined in red.  If there is something about the recipe itself or instructions that is important I highlight it with a yellow highlighter marker.
  • data recorded - I record the recipe and method.  If the recipe is regular cooking I record: source, prep time, cook time, cook temperatures, comments, any problems, tweaks, and cost per serving.  If the recipe is a canning recipe I record the recipe, source, canning method, pH of the product, pressure, processing time, cost per ml and anything else that will help me develop the recipe further.  I also record weather conditions for some recipes something that is important when making candy.  I'm a bit of a stickler too as far as adding additional comments with dates when I make that recipe again.
  • loose papers - Like many home cooks I come across recipes online that I print off to try.  I also test recipes for a couple of magazines which require printing off and carefully recording notes.  Loose papers are securely attached in my kitchen journal using scotch tape.  I write any comments and notations directly on the sheets.

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