Friday, November 26, 2010

Recipes and Cookbooks

     A cook is only as good as their recipes. I'm sure there are people out there who can whip up phenomenal meals off the top of their head, I'm not one of them. Over the years, I have collected quite literally, hundreds of recipes, from a variety of sources. 

My cookbooks, minus one

My much battered, Joy of Cooking

     As you can see, my go to cookbook is The Joy of Cooking. It's not looking so joyful any more. I highly recommend having this book because it goes into painful detail about everything from the ingredients to cooking techniques. It has proven to be an invaluable resource to have when I have questions. I realize this will date me but I had this book before the Internet was widely available. None of my other general cookbooks get used as much.

    I also have some specialty books, mainly for canning and making preserves. Of the four I have, I use, "Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine" by Madelaine Bullwinkel, the most. Her cooking style and philosophy best suit my own.

     I like the books I have because I'm the kind of learner who likes to have the whole picture before I start something. I research ingredients, compare cooking techniques, recipes and cooking equipment.  Which brings me to my next resource for recipes, the Internet.

     I do a lot of my recipe finding on the web. I go through the forums, blogs, websites, wikis: everything. I find it to be very similar to my third and most important resource, friends and family.

     I have four generations of cooks to pull information from and have badgered all of them when they had something I wanted to learn. I have learned recipes, cooking techniques, everything. Nothing compares to actual experience. My friends and family have served as one giant FAQ for all things food for me for years and they'll tell you I do frequently ask questions. The good thing is, most cooks love to share, swap war stories if you will. I have spent a lot of time getting information and sharing stories of cooking triumphs and laughing about the colossal failures. I'll have to do a post about cooking disasters, I have a couple but the hands down winner goes to my uncle Leo. I'll save that for later.

     I don't watch cooking shows very much, I find them kind of boring. No zombies, explosions or maniacal axe murderers, too tame to catch my interest. I do clip lots of things from magazines and news papers, anything that catches my eye. It all ends up in "the dresser".

the dresser

     The dresser lives in my basement and is the catch all for all my food related stuff. The top drawer is full of folders of recent recipes, ingredient information, gardening tips, you name it. Where things are located in the dresser determines it usefulness or popularity. 

     My recipe pages are a mess of notes on what I thought at the time. I write down substitutions, comments from people who tested it for me, comments from other people who tried the recipe and occasionally the phone number of the person I called for help. The only true organization I have to my things is that it is all in the same place. This project has helped to impose some much needed order as I get things ready to post.

     It's hard to recommend cookbooks, or comment on how to organize your recipes because it ends up being a very personal thing. Find what works for you and stick with it, that's really the best advise I can give.

     Now you have all of my cooking secrets; from what my kitchen looks like to how I get my recipes. I'm not sure if it is of any help but this is how I cook and it works for me. If you have any questions or comments feel free. Thanks for stopping by.

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