I don’t remember when I first started keeping a kitchen journal. It was a long time ago. Sometime in my youth…when I was in grammar school. I would spend my weekends putting together little notebooks chronicling everything I did in the kitchen…what I learned watching my mom as well as all my glorious culinary adventures my sweet mother graciously allowed me to explore as I took over her kitchen.
Over the years my kitchen journals grew one after the other. And their contents expanded too. Not only was I recording what I learned, I added all the recipes I wanted to try, what I thought of them once I tried them, recipes I developed on my own…and what I thought of them once I tried them. I also included lists of products I observed at the grocery store.
Instant pudding turns me into a food activist
One such observance had to do with a new fangled product called instant pudding guaranteed not to burn. I couldn’t resist. I asked my mom if we could buy a box. She was wonderful about indulging me when it came to my passion for food. (After all, she’s Italian…and original foodie!)
We rushed home and I made the pudding. And…it burned! I couldn’t believe it. I was so disappointed. None the less, I recorded all my observations in my kitchen journal. When my dad arrived home from work, I was so sad not to be able to serve him his favorite chocolate pudding for dessert. When I told him what happened he casually suggested that I write the food company. I took the advice to heart and wrote a letter to the company using my notes from my kitchen journal.
The pudding strikes back
Months passed and I had forgot about my letter until one day a man in a dark colored car, wearing a dark suit, drove into our driveway, parked, and walked up to our front door. He rang the door bell, my mother answered, and he introduced himself as a representative of the pudding food company…and asked for me! I was terrified and ran upstairs (I was seven years old and was positive I was being hauled off to jail for complaining about the pudding). My mom called me back downstairs reassuring me that all was OK.
The man introduced himself, this time to me, and apologized for the burnt pudding. He explained that the batch from which I had purchased my box of pudding was defective. He also commented on how thorough my letter was and that the comapany appreciarpted all the detail…as well as my review of their pudding. Next…to my delight…he handed me a case…yes, a case!…of the instant pudding. I was in heaven. I thanked him profusely and then he was on his way. My kitchen journal had paid off…big time!
My kitchen journal lives on
Although my days of instant pudding have come and gone…my kitchen journal is still with me. These days it contains meal plans, memorable menus, recipes I want to try, recipes I develop, cooking triumphs…and culinary disasters, shopping lists, coupons, grocery store receipts, wish lists for cookbooks and kitchen equipment, kitchen decorating ideas…all sorts of wonderful and luscious food stuff…and most important…lots of comments in the margins about my family’s likes and dislikes with extra stars around their all time favorites… slow-cooked baby back ribs anyone?
Starting a kitchen journal for a happy kitchen life
Every home cook’s kitchen journal will be different. And what you put in yours will be different than what I put in mine…but my one recommendation is…dedicate your kitchen journal just for kitchen related information. Don’t add anything else…otherwise it just becomes a mish mosh of clutter. (I speak from experience! ) Dedicated to your kitchen, your kitchen journal will prove invaluable, allowing you to keep track of all sorts of wonderful things including recipe likes and dislikes, favorite holiday menus, memorable party foods, and a whole host of wonderful kitchen memories…as well as foodie aspirations for the future!
A kitchen journal can start out as simple as a spiral notebook. But I guarantee once you start keeping a kitchen journal it will morph into a large three ring binder and eventually…for the high-tech minded…a collection (did I say huge collection?) of stuff on your laptop. The kitchen journal is addictive but it’s also fun and a wonderful source of useful information…all in once place.
PS…I wanted to share…in case it sounds strange that a representative from a big food company would come to my home…that the comapny’s headquarters was located in the county where I lived. And…it was the 1960′s back when there were telephone operators, gas station attendants, a milk man…and the customer was king…or in my case, queen!