Tips & Stories

Cooking Up Memories with Evernote

Posted by Ron Toledo on 08 Oct 2009

Posted by Ron Toledo on 08 Oct 2009


October is food month here at Evernote and so I thought I’d share a personal food-related story about how Evernote helped me save a treasured family recipe book.

The book

My grandmother was an amazing cook. She loved to devise and collect recipes into a massive recipe book, which was a constant fixture on her kitchen counter. Spending time in that kitchen became a family pastime—full of delicious smells and flavors. Some of my earliest and most vivid memories are of standing beside her looking up as she worked her magic.

It has been many years since my grandmother passed away, but everyone in the family still reminisces about her baking. At a recent family get-together, someone mentioned a cookie my grandmother used to bake and how delicious it was. The next thing I knew, my aunt went to the other room and brought out a faded, stained book loosely held together with rubber bands. We all instantly recognized it as The Book.

As we huddled around flipping through the brittle pages, you could hear whispers of “Oh I remember those” and “Mine never tasted the same as hers.” Each recipe, in her familiar handwriting, bringing back special memories for each of us.

This book was important to my family and I didn’t want it to disappear. So, I took it upon myself to digitize it and then share it. I turned to Evernote.


How Evernote helped

Preserving this book was incredibly important. Here’s how I used Evernote to transform this old recipe book into a digital notebook:

  • First, I took pictures of the individual pages with a digital camera. I chose not to scan the book for fear of damaging it further, though scanning into Evernote is also a great option.
  • Then, I created a new notebook in Evernote and add the images.
  • I titled each note with the recipe name.
  • Finally, I shared the notebook by going into the Sharing settings on Evernote Web.

With a little help from Evernote, I was able to turn this family heirloom, which had been tucked away in a dusty closet, into something that is now archived and easily accessible by the whole family.

Take a look

I would like to share this book with you, too: Feel free to link it to your own account by clicking the “Link to my account” button at the top right of the page.

All those wonderful food memories that we thought were lost can now live on forever, thanks to Evernote!

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    25 Comments RSS

    • Nick Gomersall

      Was Evernote able to read your granny’s writing? I imagine that’s one of the rare challenges which defeat even EN 😉

    • Charles

      There are two easier, more efficient ways to do this. 1. Use DocScanner on your iPhone. You will get PDFs that you can combine into a portfolio on Acrobat and share in a number of ways including 2. Scan into a Fujitsu scanner using a carrier sheet so as not to ruin the brittle pages. You will also end up with PDFs. In this instance, Evernote is the harder way to accomplish this task.

    • Jason

      @Charles: Since he specifically said that hhe didn’t want to scan the pages, since they are both brittle and bound together. I think the pictures were a fine way of capturing them without risking the actual object.

      Besides, this way he could translate the recipes for his family (I know my grandma’s handwriting is hard for some of us to read) and paste that below the page image.

      Oh, plus! If he enabled editing of the notebook by her family that it’s shared with, they could post their reactions or comments within each recipe page.

      Sounds like a great project, thanks for sharing with us.

    • Julie Hoaas

      Great article! I’ll be sure to do the same with my grandmother’s recipe books!

    • Joe

      For us itouch users, it would be nice if we could sync and search or notes offline 🙂 is there any plans for searching the ipod touches offline database?

    • Mark Soon


      I just want to say I love Evernote so much and I can’t imagine living without it (seriously). I have managed to organize my life around with Evernote and rely so heavily upon it in my day to day tasks. Please, keep up the good work and make sure Evernote stays around for many years to come!



    • Colleen

      Ditto what Mark just wrote! My life has changed because of Evernote. I run a small design firm and all my job tickets are on Evernote and every job Tagged. Since alot of my work comes to my via email, I just save it and tag it in Evernote or I scan or snap a photo of client files using my iphone. No longer do I have to carry around job folders! Its just me, my laptop, desktop and my iphone! My desk is clear from paper and folders and I’m free to roam and never worry about not having the file I need! Love it!

    • Irena


      I read some the the recipies in the book and I think they are just wonderful. I cannot wait to try some of them out this evening.

    • Michelle

      I collect cookbooks of all kinds, and prefer older, well used ones that have obviously provided a lot of enjoyment. This is the most unusually presented one I’ve run across. Thank you so much for sharing it! And thanks to your grandmother for taking the time to record all her wonderful recipes. I can’t wait to try them!

    • Dedra

      I have been using Evernote to clip recipes, but this post gave me an epiphany.

      When I was on a Windows machine, I had used a photo editing program to make recipe pages for printing a family recipe book. The results were .pngs that I uploaded to Shutterfly and the book was a big hit. Since that time, my Windows machine took a header and I lost the text versions of those recipes. I still have the pngs but really had no good way to search in them.

      Reading this post reminded me that I could do what the Ron Toledo family had done with Grandma’s Recipe Book, I would just be starting with png files instead of photographs.

      Okay, I just checked to try this out and discovered they are not png, but psd files. But, it worked! Evernote every so wonderfully indexed/ocr’d the recipes. So now I am able to search across my artistic, but previously impractical recipes.

      Thanks, again Evernote.

    • Paul

      I loved the recipe idea but found the “Drop Cookies” recipe is actually page two of the “Strawberry Shortcake recipe”.

    • janitorial supplies

      I read some the the recipies in the book and I think they are just wonderful. I cannot wait to try some of them out this evening.

    • Tanner


      I use Evernote on my iPod Touch. I will make a shopping list for example and while I’m in the wifi area, I mark the note as a favorite. When I’m out of wifi range, my favorited notes still appear. I also have an iphone and have used this feature for reading on the train class readings I’ve put into Evernote. When the train goes into the tunnels and I lose both wifi and cell reception, I still have access to my favorited notes.

    • JohnnyT

      Thank you for sharing your prized grandmother’s cookbook. From the photos, it’s clear that the paper used in making the book has a high acid content (the brown staining and brittleness) and needs some preservation work to prevent the pages from eventually disintegrating. A book preservationist can do this but it may be costly. I use a paper deacidifying spray called PaperSaver on my vintage postcard collection and it seems to work quite well.

    • Allen Peterman

      Would be nice if underlined link items would capture the actual link also.
      Also, how about a one-stroke capture of a multi-screen web page?
      I recommend E-N to all my friends !!

    • Emily O

      I started something similar with my mother’s recipe index cards, especially because she had preserved some of her mother’s Russian recipes. When I take a photo with my digital camera, the writing is backwards, so I have to do a mirror image version within Photoshop. It was too many steps and it took too much time. I would like to know Ron’s technique for reversing the images. Perhaps my camera has a way of reversing the image before I transfer it to my computer. I really want to share my mother’s recipes with the rest of my family. I do not have an iPhone, just an iPodTouch. Examples:

    • Katrina

      This is wonderful,
      Trying to capture all the recipes I have, or want to try, is such a daunting task. I started to do this using evernote, but quickly gave up. With so many millions of recipes on the web, in cookbooks, etc, its easy to get recipe-overload.

      I’m beginning to think its more important to create more of a journal than an index, and just my favourite recipes. Similar to what your grandmother did. I like the idea of using evernote for this – to note changes, etc.

      Wonderful idea, can’t wait to try the recipes.

    • Karmen

      This brought back so many memories. This was a very similar story to our own family. Our Grandma was a wonderful cook who handwrote all of her recipes in a book. Your Grandmother’s handwriting looks so much like my Grandmother’s – and even the recipes are so similar. Thanks so much for sharing! When she passed away I did scan it into a computer file and shared it with everyone that way.

    • Mart

      thats a good idea;-)
      myn have all been done simply by creating a snapshot note using the evernote iphone app. Seems to work really well and much easier than copying the recipes out manually.

    • Joe

      Thanks for the response Tanner, I use the favorite star as well. I star all my notes, so they are all available offline. The problem i face is that Evernote’s search functionality is not available offline. I can’t search for tags or keywords when I’m offline, I have to browse (my favorites) which is a pain. Offline needs a search, search is the point of evernote, and to not have it offline, makes no sense. 🙁

      Sad evernote user waiting for his offline search 😉

    • Dag

      This was great, and inspired me to add some of my own recipe research onto Evernote, in addition to making my blog a bit more content-rich.

    • alygirly

      Thank you for your generosity in sharing these recipes with us! What a treat!

    • mike

      Evernote is a great program

    • Janie S

      Thanks guys for putting up this wonderful post. I actually went ahead and turned my entire recipe book (that was falling off at the spine), into a digital version and uploaded it to evernote. Love it!

    • Lori

      I love this idea. I recall reading this post in 09 and was happy to find it again as I was looking through references to using Evernote and recipes.

      I save a TON of recipes into Evernote and am slowly trying to scan in what I have loose and on index cards as well. I recently wrote a post about it to help others discover how wonderful evernote is for this!