A kitchen notebook is more than a set of pages. In the kitchen, a notebook is a mass of recipes, tomorrow’s prep list, the seafood order, and infinite ‘note to self’ scribbles. And an archive.
Somewhere around twenty-years-old, the ability to maintain a database of important information cataloged in short-term memory becomes less achievable and more of an annoyance. Writing bits and pieces down becomes essential. “Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted,” extolled author Jules Renard. Cooks barking at each other, the constant din of oven timers, and the whir of the exhaust hood are all enough of an interruption to completely overlook doing the bread order. That is why every cook should have a kitchen notebook.
The Shinola soft-covered journal ($8.75/2-pack) is aptly sized at 3 ¾” x 5 ½” to keep notes while sturdy enough to not fall to pieces in your sweaty pocket. American made from soundly sourced domestic paper, the 72-page book has enough heft to provide a solid surface while not bulking out your pockets.
Need to get beyond the daily runnings? The Shinola linen wrapped, hardbound journal ($24) is a crowning accomplishment in archival quality notebook construct. Lined or blank (or grid, ya’ freak!), the pages are thick, acid-free paper. The large format runs 7” x 9”, with 192 sewn-bound pages. The space is suited to hold on to those must-have recipes, techniques, and menu ideas. Want to gift your chef a memorable token of your endearing devotion and gratitude? Monogramming is free if you order online. If you are close to a Shinola store, get a few lines printed on the cover, at no charge.
When the conditions are really swamp-like, the Rite in the Rain waterproof notebook is the all-weather option. The line is constructed from regular paper with a water-based coating to take a chicken stock bath without giving up the notes. These guys are serious. The design was conceived for use by the logging industry, and the product line has evolved into a supplier to the military as well. Battle-grade means kitchen-grade. The spiral bound, pocket version ($3.95), has a flip-top design with 50 pages of 3” x 5” liquid-fearless fortitude.
The Rite in the Rain recipe cards are a foolproof way of dealing with errant drops and specks. While many recipes have found their way to the cloud, a print reference will always have a home in a kitchen. The grease, water, oil, and sweat-proof cards will keep the alligator pie recipe around longer than most cooks. The 50 cards ($19.95) are pre-printed with reference bits like prep time, ingredients, and servings, and fold to 3” x 5” to make for convenient storage.
Of course I have to mention the Poached Notebook as well. Poached knows a thing or two about what happens in a kitchen, so they put together a notebook with helpful info on the inside covers. The notebook lists temp conversions (from celsius to fahrenheit and back again), volume conversions (metric, US and Imperial) as well as a ruler (inches only).
These are not for sale, however if you post a pic of your kitchen on Instagram and tag @poachedjobs in your photo, they’ll reach out and send you one!
“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up in your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory,” mega writer Jack London wrote. The Call of the Wild author had an early existence in the food industry as a cannery employee. At the age of 14, London knew of the importance of a properly equipped kitchen ruffian. Your kitchen notebook is another of those indispensable tools that contribute to making the 3,459,845 tasks of a day that much more manageable.