Gift: Favorite Cookbook, worn, old, bruised, battered, loved
A friend posted a picture on Facebook where she gets all her recipes. The point she made was this: Recipe books are diminishing.
Most of my recipes come from the Internet, like the Food Network. They have a great database of recipes. You can save recipes into categories under your sign-on. With smartphones, ipads, and laptops, you don’t have to print them out. You can bring your electronics into the kitchen and refer to them as you are cooking. No more pages sticking together because of grease splatter or dripping sauce. No more flour dusting the pages and falling into the binder to be found later. It’s efficient and clean.
What I do miss, however, are the memories attached to the actual books. In the photo above, my grandmother gave me that cook book. When she gave it to me, it looked like new though its copyright is whenever and unknown. After a number of years of using it, it looks like that now–papers falling out of the binder, pages stained and sticking together, and the front cover totally detached. Evidence of its use means my kitchen is well-occupied. But I do love the easiness of the electronics.
I put the laptop or smartphone on a table in my kitchen so its not near the cooking and baking areas. My hands are kept clean so as not to ruin my electronics when I tap the screen or touch the mouse pad. I get to see a photo of what it should look like, and read notes from other cooks who made adjustments. Trust me, when I say, how necessary that is because in a recipe book I made something that tasted awful. The struggle between using actual books or electronics will always be up for debate. But I don’t think one or the other will go out of style.
Dragon’s Breath Chili by Guy Fieri on the Food Network website surprised me. Every recipe I have made on that site has always been correct on the time it takes to prepare and make the recipe. It was on a Friday night that I chose to make Dragon’s Breath Chili. The recipe said on the phone app, “total: 25 minutes; cook time: 15 minutes; prep time: 10 minutes.” The regular website said the same thing with one difference: “2 hours inactive time.” What does that mean?
The inactive time didn’t show up on the phone app. The cook time should have included the two hours. So needless to say, I was not happy after spending thirty minutes chopping chilies, browning beef, and following the recipe, to read the last line which read, “Simmer about two hours.” On a work night when my husband has to go to bed at eight, it’s a good idea to make the meals quick and convenient, not a two-hour simmer. That being said, the Dragon’s Breath Chili was great.
Safeway didn’t have pablano chilis. I substituted with serrano. I also forgot the tomato paste. To thicken the soup, I tossed a little flour in with the oil and butter and let it simmer as if I were making a roux. In spite of these mistakes, the chili turned out quite flavorful though not “dragons breath” as the title claimed. Maybe the pablano would have given it more spice? Or maybe I should have went with the habaneroes? The preparation time was also not as advertised. You have to roast both the anaheim and the pablano peppers. Other cooks in the review section used a BBQ. I used my broiler to roast the anaheim peppers, then tossed them into a plastic bag, and put it in the freezer as a quick way to loosen the skin. For the lager, I used Alaska brewed beer. Because I didn’t have tomato paste, I took a few sips of the beer to lessen the amount of liquid in the chili.
A recipe for double fried fries is at the end of the recipe. Because chili is high in calories and fat, I decided to go with Parmesan BAKED fries as a healthy alternative. Overall, I really loved both recipes, especially the Dragon’s Breath Chili, and I would make it again. This time I won’t forget the tomato paste and will use habaneros in the place of pablanos to heighten the spice in the chili. I will also let it simmer for two hours to see if the length of cooking will increase the heat.
Humorous note: I chose not to include granulated garlic in the recipe because a head of garlic was used in this recipe already. Too much garlic has a chemical effect on me where I smell for hours after ingesting it like I hadn’t showered in weeks!
Have you ever started a recipe and forgot something? In the comments, tell me about it.
The Southern Foodie by Chris Chamberlain was the first cookbook I have ever reviewed, especially on a kindle. The moment you open the cookbook on kindle you get right into the index.
On my food blog, Whine and Cheese, I featured some of the recipes. The recipes are great, but some do not explain clearly on how to prepare the ingredients. In one recipe, I wasn’t sure if I should cook the fresh collard greens. In the Southwest, we do not have canned collard greens on the shelves. It’s distinctly southern. But we do have them fresh in the produce section. Having never tried collard greens, I didn’t know whether collard greens are steamed or what-not, and had to guess.
The stories of the different restaurants in the south read like a review. They were less interesting than the recipes themselves. The recipes I tried turned out great, and since I usually substitute or improve upon any recipe, that is not a detriment to the book. I have decided to keep the cookbook on my kindle and not delete it. I am still working on trying the recipes. My food blog is accessible at www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com.
I would recommend the book to anyone curious about southern cuisine. Just don’t expect the narratives on the restaurants to excite you as the shows on the Food Network or to read like Rachel Ray’s travel/recipe book. I gave this book four stars.
A friend was coming over, and as I debated about what to make I thought of that recipe I copied a week ago, but due to lack of time never baked: Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. I rummaged through my kitchen drawers, hoping I had some cupcake wrappers left, and found them. They were Christmas cupcake papers.
“I’m being green.” I thought with a grin. Why hold them until Christmas when I need them right now?
As I dumped the ingredients into the bowl I thought of my friend. She was eagerly looking forward to coming over for dinner. It’s nice to have friends who enjoy your company. Food is a lot more than something required to nourish us so our body can work properly; it’s an expression of love and friendship.
When I first learned to cook it was to gain acceptance. I was also inspired by my grandmother who used to let me lick the paddles of her mixer when she was done. The duty of cooking and baking evolved into a passion and an expression of love for me over the years. Whether people knew it or not, it was my way of saying, I love you when all other words failed.
I love inviting my friends and family to get comfortable in our home. They can put their feet on the furniture. They can spill. Nothing is taboo. They hang out in the kitchen with me, watch the television, and laughter fills the empty spaces of our house. The only rule is honesty.
What special memories do you hold of cooking or baking? Describe them.