Sunday, January 17, 2010


Some of you might be surprised to know that I have lots of issues.

What? You're not surprised?


Not even a little?

Well, anyway, I do and I'm going to tell you about it.

I have a recipe issue.

I love to collect them. I've actually used only 23.4% of them but I love to collect them anyway.

Let me explain.

Here are the recipes I keep by the stove for quick and handy reference. I've removed the bottle of vodka from the counter for this photo. Not that the plate of donuts is really that much of an improvement to my image. This pile group consists of cookbooks with recipes, a red folder with recipes and three binders with recipes.

Here's a better look at what I've got in the corner.

I've got recipes I've been meaning to try and my favorites bookmarked.

This is my 'current folder' which I keep on top of the corner books. In it are recipes I'm going to try this week. No really, I will get them this week. Or maybe next Monday. Yeah, next Monday....but more likely the middle of next week because I have that other thing I need to do. So definitely by next Friday. No really, I mean it.

Then I have these binders.

These were recipes I clipped, mounted onto paper and then cleverly put into page protectors (this is pre-kids, mind you). The black binder is reserved for desserts. I hope to update these some day. Hmmm....yeah.

I bought "The Joy of Cooking" for the Bo Hunkmeister when we were in college. I convinced him to go off of the college meal plan and cook for himself. I figured the Joy was a good starting book. Besides, I wanted one and I knew I was going to marry him someday and the book would be mine. Was that too Machiavellian? He married me anyway.

I thought "The Joy of Cooking" was the standard bearer of cook books. My grandma had one, my mom's was well worn so I figured my kitchen would not be complete without one either. Until I read about Irma Rombauer. Turns out, girlfriend could not cook, but needed some cash and figured publishing a cookbook would be an easy way to get some. She also didn't test more than a third of the recipes she collected. She assumed they worked and some most definitely don't. The term 'Cockaigne' also doesn't mean anything other than she thought the recipe was noteworthy. But where else would you find a recipe for kumquat compote (say that ten times fast)? It also has a great reference section in the middle. So I keep it even though the dream has been sullied.

Now I have a new steady.

"The Best Recipe" from the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated. Can't show you the dust cover jacket with the pretty picture because that got good and stained the first year I had it. This book has some good and tasty stuff, but its recipes are some times a little fussy. What do I mean by this? Their "Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese" calls for mixing a teaspoon of mustard powder with some water before mixing it with the milk before mixing it with the macaroni. Unless it's a specially picked mustard seed from the poop of the civit cat, I see no reason why a basic Mac and Cheese can't withstand a simple squirt from the old French's mustard bottle. They also put in directions like "Invert biscuits onto a clean tea towel" Really? I was just going to use this moldering one here in the corner, but if clean makes a difference, well, by all means, I'll use a clean one.

These guys are my second stringers. You know, the guys you call in for special occasions or when things need a little kick in the pants.

Despite having a recipe issue, I don't own a whole lot of cook books because for me, a cookbook must be usable. I have no patience for a book where I only use one recipe. I also must actually want to eat the stuff. And the ingredients can't be too fussy. I'm really not at a point in my life where star anise and truffles are things that are regularly in my pantry (although I have learned to always stock capers and sundried tomatoes). There also must be some hope that the children will eat it too. I once owned a cookbook called "Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies". Loved the Food Network show but really, are my little babies going to eat Jugged Hare? Not anytime soon. Speaking of Food Network, though I love it, I'm glad I don't have it. I shudder to think of how many trees I'd kill printing out all those recipes. However, I'd like to take a moment here to give a shout out to Alton Brown who introduced me to that cornerstone of gastronomic bliss, brining your chicken.

Having said all that about what I expect from a cookbook, I do have an exception to the rule:

This is one of my favorites. It was from my grandmother. My grandmother owned the Fanny Farmer cookbook, the James Beard cookbook, and one from the Cordon Bleu. But this is the one she gave me. Was there a meta message here?

I love this book because of recipes like this. The directions say, "First you take a live cooter and wait for him to stick his head out from his shell. When he does, you grab it and whack it off."
I take back what I said about the Cook's Illustrated people being fussy.

I own two Japanese cookbooks. Now some of you who know me may ask, "Why do you own a Japanese cookbook when you have a slammin' Japanese cook for a mother?" Because she doesn't measure a blessed thing! Seriously. She only recently bought a decent set of measuring cups. Measuring spoons? Good luck finding one in her drawer. When I ask her, "How do you make such and such?" she says, "Well, I just take a little of this and some of that and it's really quite simple." And then she flies into a whirlwind of motion and the next thing you know you're sitting at dinner and she's asking if you want seconds. So until I can perfect the culinary Vulcan mind meld, I am forced to purchase Japanese cookbooks.

Notice the microwave cook book. Does anyone actually use them? They seem to be a requirement at all yard sales. My chiropractor bought me one 'cause she's funny like that.

I keep these magazines which I still go back to. I hope one day to mark all my favorite recipes in them with labeled sticky notes so I don't have to go through all of them when I'm looking for that fabulous Pad Thai recipe. I also hope dance like Beyonce. Which do you think will happen first? I know, the dancing, right?

I love this old magazine simply for the pictures.

Jello-Mold-O-Rama! Notice the one front and center with the stuff floating in it. Yes sir, I like me a dessert with floaties! I will cook a seven course dinner for the person who can feed me a Jello mold that's actually attractive and tasty. (some limits and restrictions may apply, see small print for contest details)

This is where I keep all my printouts, clippings, recipes friends give me and my personal favorite ~ scribblings on pieces of scrap paper without titles. Nothing like a list of ingredients you copied long ago without any idea how they go together! I hope one day to mount these on paper, put them in protective sleeves and update the binders on my kitchen counter. I also hope to sing like Susan Boyle.

This book actually qualifies for heirloom status. My mother in law got it from a friend and passed it on to Bo Hunkmeister when he was in college. It has some really nice basic stuff in it except for this....

Party Loaf?!? Really?!? I would think the party's over when this makes its way to the buffet table. It's just sea-foam greenish (another one of my issues, but that's a later post) I think I need to go lie down.

Ok, I'm better now.

Now before you go and get your panties in a twist looking for a way to feed my addiction, know this: I've developed some hard and fast rules here about which recipes make their way into my house.

1. No fussy ingredients: Mama's not going to waste smoked oysters on the kiddies.
2. No fussy preparation methods: there's only so many clean tea towels I'm going to sacrifice.
3. The recipe cannot have the words "Cheesy" and/or "Italiano" in the title: to me this means take your average dish and throw cheese and/or tomato sauce on it.
4. A recipe that includes hot dogs and/or Top Ramen noodles is really not a recipe in my book. (did I ever tell you I saw kimchi with hotdogs in it? It made me cry.)
5. No sea foam green. This color should be limited to mint chocolate chip ice cream only.

Well, I feel better having gotten all that off my chest, don't you?

*contest rules: winner must supply groceries for dinner, one large iced coffee and babysit my kids while I make it. Hey, my contest, my rules!


steve said...

see my FB note to you ..... MY specialty.

Amanda said...

I am rolling. You are so funny, Dawn. Maybe we should start a Recipe Collectors Anonymous group? We could be the charter members. :)

carolyn said...

Thank you!!!!