In my 30’s I began keeping a food journal. Recipes are ephemeral. If I didn’t write down how and what I’d cooked as soon as I’d cooked it, something would be left out, lost.
Cooking, like doing art, is spontaneous, and inspiration is fast; it takes unconventional twists and turns.
I could easily forget that I cooked the onions down in tomato paste very gently till it was 20 seconds from burning then added the soaking broth from dried mushrooms. I might have remembered it only as “cook down some onions, add some tomato paste, add liquid.”
Cooking is more like a vapor than a set of instructions, so it must be captured before it evaporates. My food journal got more elaborate over time, and now includes snapshots of dishes and of guests, wine and cheese labels, restaurant menus, and notes about funny things that happened, arguments, and romance. I started the first book in 1983 when my office was also my closet. My current book, started in 2012, is my fourth food book.