After the last plate is cleared and the floors are mopped, just take a little time to look back on how things went with your event. It is a good idea to keep a Cooking Event journal of your major cooking functions, this will inspire you to put together new menus and also help to avoid making mistakes with recipes. I keep a folder with all the recipes for the regular events that I host, so that they are easy to find. I also keep an ‘oven cooking timetable’ so that I can ensure that the food will be cooked in the timeframe that I need. It really helps give you confidence that your event will turn out well. (I also keep a Recipe journal for day to day cooking, where I keep similar details for each dish).
So how does it work? A simple notebook will work well, coupled with a display folder for the recipes. I have included some pictures from my journal to give you some ideas. I tend to keep my journal in hardcopy, but it would be fine to keep this as an electronic journal.
In the notebook, keep the following details:
- Event name, date and location. For example, Christmas Day, 25 Dec 2015, indoors – 2 tables.
- Menu – each item is listed, including where the recipe originates from (author/book). Often family and friends will bring dishes, and I will note this also. Also include key items like how much meat and seafood was purchased. This will serve as a reminder for the next event. Take pictures of the food and table, this will help to remind you of the set up and serving platters.
- Shopping lists and day by day preparations in the lead up to the event
- Who attended and perhaps the gifts that were given.
- Write comments about each menu item, and any special tips or short cuts that are used. This is especially important if the recipe is new.
The journal can also include entries for special holidays and visits to friends and family. If applicable, also note any dish taken to the event.
So not only can this journal be used for learning, it will build up into a collection of special memories to look back on and enjoy afresh.