This isn't so much a celebration of stationary, though who doesn't love a nice notebook, as another dispatch from my kitchen. This pile of notebooks is the result of a quick look round my sitting room and inside my handbag, I know I have as many again somewhere about the place. I have more notebooks than I actually need, I know this because quite a few of them are as yet unsullied by any hint of pencil or ink, but the ones I use - well they're what I would want to rescue from fire or flood.
Notebooks are great; one of those perfect things - my partner laughs at me for still using a paper diary and organiser but I find it the easiest and most convenient way of keeping track of things, especially when I want to look back for something rather than forward. I'm also extremely attached to my kitchen notebook, so much so that I often take it on holiday with me.
I've had kitchen notebooks for more than 20 years but this unappealing looking object has proved to be the best of the lot. I've had it for about 6 years now after I decided on a fresh start and binned my old notebook. I have a lot of cookbooks, not food writer numbers (I read somewhere that Nigella has over 4000, and having seen some of Diana Henry's collection think she must be in the same ball park, I by comparison probably have about 150) but enough to easily forget where I found something good, I also have every intention of getting more (impossible to imagine I'll never want another cookbook). The main purpose of this notebook is to keep a record of recipes that I know work and which I like enough to make again but not every week (there are a lot of cakes in it).
I've always been a fan of following a recipe rather than winging it - I know I can make something that tastes all right when I throw a few things together but I also know that whatever it is will end up tasting much like all the other things I throw together because it'll inevitably use the same ingredients - all the staple things I always have in the kitchen. I don't have all those cookbooks because I want to eat a minor variation of the same thing every night. It helps to because I have a rotten memory for quantities and temperatures, it's also a useful thing to take away to holiday cottages, and it doesn't matter in the least how battered it gets as it wasn't pretty to start with.
I like that it's alphabetical even if I can't always precisely remember if I would have put something like a rhubarb muffin under rhubarb or muffin, I like that I can scribble all over the thing adding notes and improvements, and the way that I can chart how my understanding of food and flavour is developing over time. Like all the best books this one has become an old friend, I only wish I hadn't written so much in it with a fountain pen - not waterproof.