I have lost a favorite recipe. I used to make three loaves of whole wheat bread every day, using a recipe that I knew so well I apparently never bothered to write it down. Then abruptly my schedule and life changed, and for a while the bread machine took over my breadmaking duties. When I wanted to make that same wheat bread a while ago, I realized that I don’t have a copy of that recipe any more, and I can’t remember some of the ingredient amounts. Although I’m sure that I will eventually find another recipe that will make a whole wheat bread that we will like just as well, not being able to find this recipe started me thinking about how I probably will not always remember some of the recipes that are so familiar to me now.

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis arvensis)

So I am really going to try to get all of these recipes written down with full ingredient listings and instructions in a separate “recipe journal,” and add notes and descriptive comments to personalize each recipe so it will be easily recognizable in years to come as a family favorite. I also want to organize the collection of untested recipes that I have gathered over the years. I’m sure many will be discarded, but I’m hoping to test the ones that look promising and add any recipes we like to this recipe journal. Each time I write up a favorite recipe properly, I’ll add it to my recipe list here too.

As I have been looking through the untried recipes, I find it amusing to see how many contain certain ingredients or are for certain types of dishes. Apparently breads with pumpkin and apple REALLY appeal to me, and I must especially like Italian dishes, yeast breads, and sponge cakes! I wonder if everybody does this, and if the recipes they collect all have common ingredients or themes.

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Like you, I type out all of our tried and true recipes and keep them in a Word document. It is a running joke in our family, that when I try a new recipe, we take a vote and decide if it is good enough to go into the recipe book. I also personalize many of them with the dates that we have tried them, special people and memories associated with them, and any changes that we would make.

My biggest thing now, after spending the last 12 years typing our favourites into my computer, is to take the time to print them all out. On more than one ocassion, I have been completely “lost” when my computer has quit working, and the only copy I have of a recipe is trapped on its hard drive somewhere. You would think I would learn. Getting it all printed out is one of the goals I have set for myself this year.

I took you up on your challenge last night and pulled all of my loose recipes out of the cupboard where I keep them “stored”. You know…the ones I get from friends or relatives, or print out from one of a hundred different sites online that I fully intend to try someday, but never manage to go back to. I must have had at least a 3-inch stack of them, and despite my good intentions at the time I first printed them, I know that only a very small fraction have ever been made.

I started dividing the recipes up into categories to see if I was drawn to any particular category. If I was to take a guess, I would have predicted chicken and pasta recipes, with a few dessert recipes thrown in for good measure. I was surprised to discover, from that sampling anyway, the I was pretty evenly split in ALL categories, having everything from recipes for Sonic Lemonade to the Best Bowl of Oatmeal. It appears that I am non-discriminatory in my food choices.

Now that you have me thinking about my recipe book again, I really should go back and finish that off, as well as decide what I am going to do with that huge stack of untried recipes. Even if I tested one every day, I would still have recipes left over at the end of the year, I’m sure.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Michelle, it sounds like you are doing exactly what I want to do with my recipes. I think adding comments about each recipe is so important… where you got the recipe, who likes it, etc. I love to read community-type cookbooks, and I think the additional information for each recipe is what makes reading them so interesting. Good luck with your project! It sounds like you are way ahead of me, but I’m glad my post was a bit of inspiration for you!


Wow! You laddies are so much more organized than me! I love the idea of making your own cookbook from favourite recipes. I have a lot of my mum’s recipes that I remember but she wasn’t one to be very accurate when she wrote down a recipe. The ingredients are there but no directions. Sometimes even the ingredient amounts are–to taste–or something like–add flour until dough is thick enough. I have tried to make many of her recipes without success. So I can’t stress enough to keep a record of recipes that mean something to you. You won’t always keep them in your head.


I can’t agree enough. Keep a record of those recipes! I was wondering, did you ever find your recipe for the whole wheat bread?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Sadly, no… I have not yet found my recipe for the bread, although I did remember that I shared the recipe with several other people, so I have asked them to look for it too. So far no one seems to have found it!


I’m really enjoying your posts and agree with so many things that your family is doing in “Simplified” living. We lost our house to fire when I was a teen so I’ve always been fearful of something like that happening again so I started keeping back-up copies of certain things, like my recipes. The original in my index file and one on my computer which I back-up to disc and keep in a safe place. Works for me so far. I’m slowly working through the untried recipes but I fear that many years will pass before they’re all tried as I have many, many, many!
As for your lost bread recipe, you may be able to recreate it as I had to do once. Start by writing down everything you can remember about it, eg… list of ingredients and the amounts of the ones you can remember. Then search on the internet for similar breads. Find the ones that have the same content for a major ingredient or two, like “3 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup water”. See what other ingredients are similar to your list and piece together a prototype. After you have your prototype, you should be able to test and tweak the recipe until you have your original version. Note the changes each time until you have it right. Sometimes, just the repetitive act will spark your memory and bring back a forgotten step or ingredient. It’s a lot of work and doesn’t happen overnight, but a true keeper recipe is often worth it. Good luck if you try!!

Linda H

I seem to collect lots of recipes for soups and stews, and also those that contain pumpkin (breads, cookies, soup, etc)


Greetings! To find your Bread recipe try typing all the ingredients you can remember in a Google search. Use plus signs between each element and include as much of the proportions as you can remember. (Also add any terms that are peculiar to that recipe you may remember). Ex: “5 1/2 C whole wheat flour” + “2 T quick rise yeast” “+ 1 tsp vinegar”, etc. It’s possible you will come up with the recipe, or a similar one — someone may have posted it online. Additionally, if you got the recipe from a magazine add that name to your search… Good luck!