Feb 20, 2010

Knowledge Capture in the Kitchen Clouds


Are you one of those foodies who collects recipes from everywhere ? Magazines ? Family members ? Friends ? Foodie web sites & blogs ?

That's me. I pile them and then periodically file them, plus cull a few.

In particular I've made the effort to collect family favourites for my daughter, Kat, from my Mother (Nan) & my Mother-in-law (Nanna). I gave them each one of those dinky A5 "My Favourite Recipe" folders, which came with preprinted cards to be filled in. Nanna busily typed away on the supplied cards using her trusty older manual typewriter. Luckily so, as Nanna has become very frail, hard of hearing and now lives in another state.  How easy it is to lose family favourites in such circumstances. We also nearly lost Nan before her family favourites were collected - in the end I hand wrote many of them myself, while Nan spent months recovering in hospital from lifesaving cardiovascular surgery.

And my sister-in-law, the Apprentice Chef's Mother, was stunned to find out that I had some of the treasured family favourites "captured" from Nanna, in a little A5 "My Favourite Recipe" folder. So I was able to photocopy & pass them on. I've even put a couple on Facebook to share with the widely scattered family.

Over the years the Apprentice's Chef's Mother & I learned that Nanna's tablespoon equals 2 metric 20ml sized tablespoons & her dessert spoon equals 1 metric 20mil sized tablespoon. So, along the way, we both experienced a few very runny disasters with Nanna's usually superb Mango Cream Tart due to our adding insufficient gelatine. But we followed the recipe - we wailed. That was before we did some knowledge sharing & jointly figured out how to convert Nanna's quantities to standard Australian metric's. Disasters ceased.

With so many foodie web sites and blogs, we are now very blessed with the technology to do knowledge sharing in the kitchen, compared with the old days of laboriously handwriting onto scraps of paper or in exercise books. My daughter, Kat, keeps muttering that my own collection of older handwritten items in their foolscap sized exercise book are at risk of fading away. Dropping hints that the contents need to be transferred to one of our pc's & maybe even online - perhaps on one of those nice foodie Cloud apps - so helpful. OK - I've made a start at Taste.com where you can your create own online recipe book - but I've usually been too busy to make much progress. Like Mother like Daughter perhaps ? 

However there is also the nagging question - you could invest a lot of time setting up online repositories of family favourites & other saved for future culinary experiments - but how can you be sure that they won't disappear without warning - poof ?

Like when my carefully saved SAI Global favourites list, with associated "what's changed" email updates, underwent a massive bi-section. They changed their business model - after 6 years previously with no changes. Another victim of the Global Financial Crisis in fact. Now my list of favourites was too long for their new model - so they arbitrarily chopped it in two for me - before I could choose which sublists should sit where. Much muttering and hours rearranging online.....

Interestingly a recent New Scientist article, provocatively headlined "Digital Doomsday",  questioned the limited longevity of electronic media and basically pointed back to keeping paper records as being more likely to resist the vagaries of ageing. Huh ? Heresy ?  "A century or so after a major catastrophe, little of the digital age will remain beyond what's written on paper.... "Even the worst kind of paper can last more than 100 years," says Season Tse, who works on paper conservation at the Canadian Conservation Institute. The oldest surviving "book" printed on paper dates from AD 868, he says. It was found in a cave in north-west China in 1907."

Hence you keep hard copies as backups - and the kitchen library grows and grows.




Posted via web from KerrieAnne's Kitchen

No comments: