Cutting up Nourishing Traditions!

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My local friend Christina wrote to me the other day after she’d cut up her Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Yes, she cut it up! But not to destroy it – to make it more usable for her. When I held the finished product in my hands yesterday, I thought it was pretty cool. Christina is guest posting here today – she’s sharing in her own words what she did and why she did it…  Let us know what you think of her idea – do you think it might help you? Why or why not?

It seems that many of you agree with me that the healthy eating principles in Nourishing Traditions are rather daunting! I was looking through it the other day and decided that part of the problem is the way it reads like a college textbook. So I decided to cut the whole thing up!

Essentially I wanted to re-format Nourishing Traditions to separate the “textbook” from the “cookbook.” :) First I went through the whole book and wrote the page numbers above each recipe column for reference purposes (it was a great way to spend a sick day in bed). Next I tore each page out. If it was a full page introduction to a new subject I left it whole. If it was a wide column of recipes next to a narrow column of information, I cut the columns apart, trimmed the margin and slid the columns into plastic sheets.

Here is a photo of assembled ingredients – clear plastic sheet protectors, a binder, scissors and of course, Nourishing Traditions (cover already cut off).

Next, this photo shows me tearing off a page after the cover was off.

In the following photo you can see two different kinds of sheets: two columns of recipes side by side; or 3 columns of interesting information side by side, destined for the textbook binder.

Look at my new “cookbook” in progress!

Finally – the finished binder!

In the end I have two binders of clear plastic sheet protectors loaded with the columns of Nourishing Traditions.

Here’s why this isn’t perfect:

  • when a recipe continues on the next page its a column nearby but not the next column…
  • this process is time consuming.
  • page numbers are not in perfect order.
  • the finished product isn’t as pretty as the book was whole.

However, here’s why it works for me:

  • this will be more kitchen friendly by laying flat when open and the plastic will wipe clean – I’m a messy cook. :)
  • this seems less daunting to me without tons of info and stories to distract me.
  • 600 pages of recipes condenses to 300 (size matters).

Blessings to you all,

Thanks, Christina! To everyone, please remember that I am looking for guest posts. Read this for ideas of what I’d like to see and then contact me with your great and/or helpful ideas. You have an open invitation, so please contact me at any time.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. Katie says

    I think that’s very interesting and like the idea, even if only to inspire me to consider the “changeability” of things in my life.

    I personally wouldn’t do this project with the NT cookbook because I like having the info right next to the recipe. I’m the type that is much less likely to look the information up when it’s not right there. Thanks for posting this, though!

  2. Martha Bisharat says

    Christina, you’re a girl right after my own heart! I love cutting up and reorganizing in subject form and to suit me with simplicity too. The pictures you show are all very inviting!

    But I would want to have 2 copies of Nourishing Traditions too, because I agree with you Katie too, to keep the book intact–to review the wisdom of the subject-matter close by the recipe, and to enjoy the beauty and layout of the publisher’s work, which is fabulous!

    I enjoy the textbook portions while sitting and relaxing (and reading it to my hubby) when I’m not cooking. When cooking however I tend to be all over the kitchen counters, and a binder with protective sheet covers is definitely the way to go for me.

    Thanks for the great pictures and the guest post.

  3. says

    I love this idea. However, I would likely not have the patience to do it myself. I tend to put those sticky “tabs” on each of the base recipes “beans”, “rice”, “Kefir”, “sourdough”, etc. This way I can flip to the right page quickly. I do so much enjoy “reminding myself” of the reasons I am putting the effort out to prepare my foods this way. So, I tend to re-read the fact sheets a lot.

    But this sure gets my creative “juices” flowing. Great idea!

    Thanks for the post!


  4. Christina Dickson says

    Thank you for the comments! I too thought 1 whole copy of NT would be the best beside the “condensed” recipe binder, less work too! My only reason for NOT getting a second copy was frugality. I may still buy one and the “textbook” binder could be my loaner copy…

  5. Robin says

    I’ve recently starting trying to “condense” some of my cookbooks by putting as much as I can on my computer. This works especially well for cookbooks that I don’t use very much and only use maybe a handful of recipes from. With those cookbooks, I’m going thru, entering the recipes I actually want to keep into a program on my computer (“Living Cookbook”-LOVE it!) and am getting rid of the book (donating it). This has allowed me to only keep the cookbooks I really love and getting rid of the ones I don’t really want to keep. Also, any recipes I find online go in there as well as maybe recipes I use a lot. What I love is that I’m growing a huge database of recipes that I love that are ALL IN ONE PLACE..this is HUGE for me, as I seemed to be accumulating recipes in lots of various places. I never thought I’d want to use recipes off my laptop, but so far, it’s actually been working pretty well, and again, having everything condensed in one place is a huge timesaver when planning for meals, etc.

    All that to say that I could see where using a similar system could really help with a book like NT, as I get frustrated when having to look thru too much text to find the recipes and all that I want.

  6. Ruth says

    Robin, I do the same thing! Except that I print mine out once or twice a year and put it in a binder with wipe-off pages (I can just see myself spilling on my laptop while I’m cooking! Ack!).
    My sisters-in-law have even requested their own copies! :)

  7. Kelli says

    Only a true artist would be comfortable ripping up a book to make it more user friendly! I have to take a deep breath and tell myself its OK if I hightlight or dog ear a page!
    My mom recently put together one of those “make your own” cookbooks, and now I have most of the recipes I use all in one spot, which is going to save me so much time. But I still love my cookbooks. I probably have more recipes than I could use in a lifetime!

  8. Maureen says

    @ Kelli –

    I too have one of those “make your own” cookbooks with the plastic inserts. I LOVE these. If I find I use a recipe a ton, I can scan a copy of it and insert it in the proper category. I working on incorporating more of the NT recipes in it but I just LOVE reading the side bars so much as I am cooking. There’s a lot of good info in them.

    But I think this is definitely an awesome post because I can see how each person’s personality builds their specialized recipe holding spots. It’s wonderful to see the finished product of Christina’s efforts and I am SURE that book will serve her well. It is motivating to find ways to be more efficient as we put more energy into good food preparation.


  9. elena marshall says

    Christina, you rock!!! That is such a great idea! I love it! I personally think that all great books should be spiral bound (just because I like being able to lay it out flat), but this, this is FABULOUS! :O)

  10. Jami says


    I thought your book was amazing when I saw it and finally understood how you had cut it up. I lay in bed last night trying to picture how you got all those strips to slide into those plastic sleeves – I have a hard time with whole pages!

    You are very creative :-)

  11. Dani says

    Robin, you are SO brave to put all your stuff on a computer… I hope you have it backed up. I have a hard time not spilling things in the kitchen, and have determined that there really is NO safe spot when I’m around!

    Christina, though: GOOD FOR YOU!!! I love that you have done this, and I have done something similar with my Bible. I have a large study bible that I can’t read in bed (big book plus onion-skin pages = flopping over to the point I couldn’t read much) and so started sectioning it out by books. My hubby was nearly apoplectic–he won’t even dog-ear a page, never mind approach it with a highlighter or pen. However, my take on it is that books were made so we could learn from them, not treat them like priceless works of art. On that note, I won’t be doing this version with my NT, but I will very likely be putting it into a 3-ring binder so it will lay flat. And I can read all of the notes that I have jotted in the margins, with a PERMANENT INK PEN. (I love my Hubby, even if he can’t mark in a book!)

  12. Becky says

    I have the hard cover of NT and it comes with a CD so I can print up any pages I need to add to my personal binder cookbook. I also have a soft cover, my original that I use to loan out to people to get them hooked.

  13. says

    Brilliant! I’d actually like to see two reformats of NT, Kelly. I’d like a hardcover, super-durable version for my homeschool to be used like a textbook and a more kitchen-friendly version with wider margins for notes. I like keeping my recipes organized by seasonality, too, so a three-ring version for me would be a big help. Hm. I wonder if there’s a bulk purchase discount somewhere…
    .-= Peggy´s last blog post… Wings for Wimps =-.

  14. Christina Dickson says

    Becky that is awesome! A printable NT would be the best along with the book, thank you for letting us know. Where did you find it? I’ve just searched Azure, Borders, Powell’s and Amazon websites and only found soft bound.

    BTW 200 heavy weight clear plastic sheet protectors like shown in the photo costs between $20-24 depending on where you shop.

  15. Becky says

    I purchased it from a WAPF book table I was working at a few years ago during a small farms conference in my area. You can purchase it from It is the Deluxe edition.

  16. Anita says

    I handwrote my favourite NT recipes, & the notes, into a small hardcover notebook,which I keep closeby in the kitchen. And can add more NT-compatible recipes as I learn;)

  17. says

    I have done this with recipes cut out of magazines, pasted them on paper and the put into a plastic sleeve in a binder. Usually two recipes will fit on a page, and then I write notes on the paper about the recipes, what dates I tried them, etc.

    This is a beautiful idea, and I think I will buy an extra copy of NT and make my own kitchen friendly binder.

    I will also send this post to Sally to give her an idea for future, as Kelly suggests!

    .-= Kimberly Hartke´s last blog post… Farm Food Voices 2010 =-.

  18. Marilyn G says

    I am thinking of purchasing a copy of “Nourishing Traditions”. But does anyone know if a new edition is coming out? Thanks, Marilyn G in Omaha

  19. Christina Dickson says

    Buy the deluxe version from so you can print what you want is my advise.
    By the way, everyone, my finished binder turned into three! I decided two small cookbooks are better than one huge one. I forgot to take into account that adding plastic sheets adds to the overall volume. But I am glad I made my book more user friendly.

    Also Costco sells heavy duty sheet protectors 250 for about $9.00. In my earlier post I had looked it up online and it showed then being much more expensive from there.

  20. anndelise says

    Similar to Robin, I just finished reinstalling and reregistering my Living Cookbook software so that I can start putting in recipes from Nourishing Traditions. In fact, even though I’m taking the gnowfglins lessons, I found this post by searching to see if anyone else had done it. gtma :)

    However, I don’t want to risk harming my netbook in the kitchen, (very little counter space), so will likely print off the recipes I use often and place them in a spiral binder.

  21. Kirsten Evans says

    Makes sense to me only because my edition is literally falling apart. Half of it is totally off the binding. My family laughs at me each time I whip it out. I would love to just tear out all the pages and put them in the page protectors in the order they’re already in, tab them, and pop them in a 3″ binder. I do this for all the eCourse recipes I have. Course, the binder is $20! :-/

    My oldest for Christmas last year took my dilapidated collection printed from online from the last 15 years and rebound it all in a bigger binder with page protectors. Although I can’t find anything anymore (lol) it’s precious to me because she illustrated each section’s cover page and wrote me the sweetest note toward the front- made me cry! ?

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