This is a mail bag question about the process I use to organize my kitchen and other things in general.
I love the food posts! I don’t understand how you experiment and find new recipes. What is your process?
Like most things in my life, I build a system, adhere to it, and then monitor the data so I can analyze it. I cook just like I play the piano, start a new business, make an investment, or these days, work on my own RPG.
First, I begin with a 11.75″ x 7.25″ record book, with 500 individually numbered, permanently bound pages. I get mine at Office Depot and after tax they are barely more than $50 each. It is worth every penny.
Then, whenever I am testing something, I document the entire process. That way, I can identify trends and common ingredients that either work or don’t work in given situations. I write down names of blogs to research, as well as tips and tricks I find online. The page numbers help me keep track of everything. I’ll scribble down ideas of things to try and areas I want to research. My goal is to be at total world-class fluency within a few years.
[mainbodyad]Whenever I have a few moments, I will grab the book and start testing. For example, a few days ago, I woke up at 9 a.m. or so and put on a 3 hour pork dish, knowing I wouldn’t be back until it was finished. When I came back, I took 20 minutes to finish it, and then prepared it to drop off for friends and family to rate and review. It doesn’t require a huge commitment. Sometimes, I’ll stay up between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. testing in my kitchen. It’s really whenever I get a moment here or there. I’m so systematic about it, it’s not like I’m standing in the middle of the kitchen wasting time.
There is also always a camera nearby so I can photograph each step of the process. It takes almost no time and it allows me to reduce my effort and schedule commitment to very small increments relative to the output. It’s about efficiency. It works for me.
For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been working on 2013’s recipe additions. There is one bread that is almost completely done and I hope to post it sometime this upcoming week. If I can modify the recipe enough to lower the salt content and increase the yeast a bit, it will be perfect. It’s a rosemary, garlic, and lavender no-knead dough that has the perfect crunch on the outside and soft inside.
Here are a few pictures I grabbed from the file. These were all taken in the past week or so and are the “working” images so sorry they aren’t staged and beautiful. This is behind-the-scenes so that is to be expected. This was probably 1/3 of the dishes that were prepared. (Note: You can see the book I’m talking about in the picture of one of the icings, next to the blender. I had just flipped to a fresh page to begin another test after finishing this one and taking a final picture.)
Your process might be different. For me it is about:
- Tracking what I do as I do it
- Photographing the process to make it very easy to reproduce in the future
- Always keeping what I need on hand
- Systematically working through different areas (e.g., pies, breads, etc.)
- Seeking to only add those recipes that are so good people talk about them for weeks
For me, it is an intellectual challenge meets art. It serves the same purpose as doing the crossword or painting can for a lot of other people. Hope that helps.
Also, by keeping the book for each project around in easy access, I can write down ideas when they occur to me, reducing the risk that I forget something.